How Balanced Are You?

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BY April Bilodeau

Everyone has a dominant side, but typically that refers to if you’re a righty or a lefty.

As riders, it’s important to look at the whole picture. While you may be a righty, do you have a stronger leg? Do you tend to lean one way or the other?

While all of these details may be tedious, they are crucial to work on to maintain balance. Here’s a list of fun of ways you can check in with your balance at the barn so you can identify areas that may need improvement.

  1. Can I sweep with my other hand? – While it may seem silly, sweeping the opposite way you are used to can be a good way to see how comfortable you are using a different hand, as well as if you’re able to twist your core in the opposite direction than you’re used to. A bonus? Your trainer will be thrilled you swept up!
  2. How well can I clean tack with my other hand? – While similar to the above, cleaning tack with your opposite hand relates more to pressure. Are you able to apply pressure through your hands equally? This is an important piece when applying equal pressure to your horse’s mouth.
  3. If I lift two water buckets with the same amount of water, do I lean a certain way? – We all hate filling water buckets. However, having that equal weight through each arm and shoulder can be a good indicator of which way you lean in the saddle. Fill two buckets half-way (you don’t need the full five gallons!) and walk down the aisle or to your horse’s stall. Which way do you lean?
  4. Moving rails? Do a squat! – If you’re helping to set a course (or for the sake of this experiment, volunteer to!), pick up the rail as if you are at the gym doing a dead lift. Are you able to bend better through one side? Is one leg less flexible than the other? When you bring the rail back up, which side leads?
Can you paint your horse’s feet with both hands? Try next time!

Getting to know your body and how it functions is key to optimizing your time in the saddle. Weak points can be strengthened, which not only will enhance your athletic ability but will be key in training your horse on both sides.

A balanced horse and rider are a happy horse and rider!

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