Could you suggest some exercises to combat one-sidedness in riders. Apparently, I ride with too much left leg and left hand, though I am a right handed person 🙂
Well, a couple things come to mind. Try holding your left rein between your thumb and first finger, known as a driving rein. It will lighten up your contact on the left rein considerably. Also ride with the reins in your right hand only (bridge reins). You can turn with neck reins.
If you wear spurs and your left spur is affecting the horse, only wear one on your right boot. If it does not affect the horse, then only wear it on your left leg to encourage your right leg to work harder.
Hope this helps!
You’re not alone. This issue is common for many riders. I find that in a lot of ways, it’s a matter of balance as much as it is strength. If I tend to go to one side of my body or another for balance, that will be the side that I’m more dominate on as you describe ‘too much left leg, left hand’.”
I suggest trying some balance exercises. The simplest and easiest one to add into your daily life, is to stand on one foot then the other while brushing your teeth. If you really want to challenge yourself, try switching hands too. So for example, you’d be standing on your right leg and brushing your teeth with your left hand. This will help you to see where your balance and your mind-body connection are weak and need strengthening.
I also like step-ups for increasing strength and balance of each leg. Choose something stable to step up onto. The height can increase as you get better at the exercise. Hold the other leg up in a 90 degree position (knee up). Do sets of 10 on each leg, up/down, up/down. You’ll quickly find that one leg is much stronger and significantly more stable. Once you get really proficient at it you can add weights to this exercise to increase the challenge.
I’m going to assume that if you’re riding with too much left leg and too much left hand, that this problem exists mostly (if not exclusively) when you’re tracking left. Another exercise that you can do, which is much more about your mind than anything else, is to every so often ride a few steps as if you’re tracking right, and visa versa when tracking the opposite direction. I find this really helps me stay connected to what my horse is doing and what I’m doing each step of my ride. It keeps me using both sides of my body equally and improves my horse’s straightness. Maybe best of all it keeps us from going into autopilot mode where we are both likely to fall into our most comfy, but probably not most productive habits.
I wish you the best in your riding. Feel free to email me with questions or even better to let me know that the suggestions helped!
Developing Good Hands
In this topic Bernie discusses the vital role good hands play in the communication between rider and horse. Tactful, sensitive hands that are used with feeling can be developed using the exercises Bernie presents here.
Running Time: 11 minutes and 10 seconds
Learn how to bridge your reins in this video:
Eventing – Mastering Your Cross Country Pace
In this video, international Eventer, Olivia Loiacono of OKL Eventing, shows you how to practice and master a good solid pace for the Beginner Novice, Novice, Training and Preliminary levels of the cross country course. There is a lot to think about when riding cross country; including keeping a proper galloping position to achieve a rhythmical, consistent and balanced pace. For any eventer, keeping the right pace for your level should become second nature, but it takes practice! Olivia shares some training exercises you can set up at home to establish and learn the correct pace for galloping at your level of competition. She also discusses how the reins (bridge and pulley rein) effect the horses balance – specifically the benefits of using a bridge as a tool for inexperienced riders to get better balance over their feet. Knowing different styles of holding your reins and hands is of the utmost importance when riding the eventing cross country course.
Running Time: 11 minutes and 10 seconds
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