5 Tips from Ken McNabb on Riding Your Horse with Correct Body Position
You’re passionate about building a relationship of trust with your horse. When you embark on your next horse riding session, try a few of Ken McNabb’s tried-and-true techniques to improve communication with your horse and advance in your horsemanship journey. When you focus on correct horse riding position using the following techniques, you’ll be impressed with the impact it can have on your riding.
You can choose to ride your horse by accident, or by intent. You can GET BY with riding by accident. But in order to ride with EXCELLENCE, you must ride your horse with intent.
Following are a few tips from Ken to guide you on your way to better body positioning with every ride:
- Maintain a Balanced Seat – Riding with intent starts with maintaining a balanced seat riding position. You’ll want to be in tune and relaxed with your horse. Work to keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet by standing in the stirrups while still sitting in the saddle and using your knees as springs. This technique helps ensure you stay with your horse anywhere he goes.
- Properly Position Your Legs & Feet – It’s important to be aware of correct lower leg position when riding your horse. Many people ride with a stirrup length that allows their legs to hang long. Ken recommends adjusting your stirrups to be short enough so you can bend your knees while keeping weight in your feet. Keeping your legs directly underneath you will help you stay balanced and square, neither in front of the movement nor behind.
- Lift Your Inside Shoulder - Raising your inside shoulder helps keep you out of your horse’s way so he can more easily move with balance. Remember: Your balance directly impacts your horse’s balance.
- Lower Your Hand Position – Ken recommends you use your hands less and your legs more when riding. Envision your hands are handcuffed together at the saddle horn. This helps you maintain the correct hand position for riding your horse. Keeping your hands low and slow is the way to go! Be aware that pulling on your horse’s face will distract from effective communication.
- Use Your Eyes – It’s crucial to always look where you want your horse to go. If you’re riding in a smaller circle at a lope, use your eyes to draw the circle in and make it smaller. When out on the trail, pick a tree in the distance and ride to it. Using your eyes to look where you want to go will make subtle shifts in your body that in turn improve your communication with your horse.
Always remember to ride with intent. When we intentionally do something, that task has our focused energy. To achieve excellence, we must be dedicated to our work and push through what feels uncomfortable. It will cost something, but what makes it worthwhile is not just the end result. The PROCESS of making something excellent changes us for the better while it also inspires others.
It’s important to keep in mind that striving for excellence is not the same as striving for perfection. Trying to attain perfection will leave us feeling defeated and depleted. Striving for excellence, however, allows us to celebrate the progress in the process.