Using A Balance Ball To Improve Your Seat In Dressage
Establishing balanced seat bones and a strong core is vital for dressage riders to move freely with their horse. A Swiss Ball is an effective tool to help create the feeling of an independent seat by engaging your lower abdominal muscles and stabilising your pelvis.
The benefits of a Swiss Ball for dressage riders
Swiss Balls are highly effective at improving your balance, position and flexibility. They can help:
- Foster proper alignment by engaging particular muscles and promoting stability
- Help strengthen your core muscles in your abs and back
- Prevent and alleviate chronic back pain
- Restore and improve the body’s flexibility
- For dressage riders, in particular, a Swiss Ball provides movement which forces you to activate your abdominals to remain balanced. This is very similar to what you need to do in order to remain stable in your saddle when riding.
Swiss Ball exercises for an improved seat
In the video above, I share with you a simple exercise that will help improve your stability and balance while off your horse.
Firstly, choose the right sized Swiss Ball for your height. As a general rule, your legs should be 90 degrees on the ground when you are sitting squarely on the ball. If the Swiss Ball is too large or too small, you’ll be out of alignment.
The table below provides you with a Swiss Ball size guide:
Once seated squarely on the ball, relax your upper body so you’re sitting up straight and evenly. Allow your ribs to drop down and your shoulders to soften to achieve a nice, neutral spine. Keep your head up with your gaze forward.
Slowly lift your right foot slightly off the ground, without losing balance or rocking side to side. Hold a couple of seconds, before putting your right foot down and lifting the left. You want to be able to remain as still as possible as you lift and transition to the other side.
By doing this, you’ll help activate your lower abdominals and strengthen your core. When we’re riding, a stable core is essential, especially when we need to provide leg aids or move slightly in the seat. Gaining strength and balance will allow you to remain in alignment and give you the ability to move freely with the horse.
Practice this exercise several times a week and you’ll notice greater improvements in your riding. If you have the opportunity to, you could even use the Swiss Ball as a chair at your desk and test your balance throughout the day.
By spending more time working on your own fitness, strength, and balance you’ll gain more freedom and energy to enjoy your riding more. For me, this is exactly what it’s all about!
For more exercises, stretches and workouts that will help take your riding to the next level, take a look at our dressage rider training online program. Designed specifically for dressage riders, this program will provide you with all the tools you need to improve your fitness and strength for riding.