Sit Centered and Balanced for Effective Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is all about balance and staying centered. You always want to keep your horse in good balance for his stage of training no matter what your discipline.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a dressage rider, a western pleasure rider, a trail rider, or an event rider. Correct balance is essential to effective riding because the center of your balance directly affects your horse’s balance.

Your goal should be to have an independent seat so you can effectively influence your horse as positively and as harmoniously as possible.

In order to have this independent seat, you need to sit in the saddle properly. By that I mean that the both the placement and the position of your pelvis must be correct. This position will, in large part, determine your level of success.

So in your quest for good balance, here’s a great image to help you keep your pelvis in the desired “neutral” position.

Imagine your pelvis is a big bucket filled with water. If you ride with an arched, tense back, the top of your pelvis tips forward, and the water spills out the front of the bucket. In this closed or tipped pelvis position, your seat bones are actually aimed toward the back of the horse.

If you ride with a rounded lower back, the top of your pelvis tips back and the water spills out the back of the bucket. In this position, your seat bones are aimed forward and down, and can sometimes drive the horse’s balance and back downward.

When your pelvis is in a neutral position, you can keep all the water in the bucket. When your pelvis is neutral, your seat bones point straight down toward the ground.

In this neutral position, your body is balanced over your horse’s center of gravity. When you’re in balance with your horse, all things are possible,

So, help your horse find his balance by riding with your pelvis in a neutral position so you can keep all the water in the bucket!

Click on balanced seat for more help with your position.


  1. The horse begins to associate that posture with the freedom to move forward. When you step behind this line, you put pressure on the horse to move forward. If you step ahead of this line, you restrict him a little. As you and your horse get to playing together and paying more attention to one another, you can eventually use these actions to encourage the horse to turn another direction or change speed. For example, you can step ahead of the shoulder line, turn, and ask the horse for a turn.

  2. Your objective is to keep the horse’s attention on you without making any loud moves. So before something else gets his attention, you want to make just a little bit bigger move to get his attention back to you–jiggle a whip, raise a hand, or walk in a little closer or a little farther back from that shoulder line. his head down and starts eating grass or whatever, you’re going to have to be loud with your actions to get his attention back. You’ll startle him, he’ll run from your “attack,” and it will take longer for him to trust you.

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