Building Confidence in the Saddle ~ Part One

February 14, 2017

Building Confidence in the Saddle ~ Part One
© J.L. Hardesty

Comfort and confidence rely on balance . . . and balance relies largely on core strength.

In this series focusing on RIDER confidence, we’ll cover a number of ways to develop this fundamentally important attribute.

From this rider/writer’s perspective, the most essential physical attributes of the confident equestrian are: A Strong Core, Good Seated Balance and Well Developed Proprioception. The love of the horse, the desire to ride, and the value of miles in the saddle are also enormously important elements.

Here’s a brief look at the basic physiology we’ll talk about in more depth as we go along.

Human Core Muscles––broadly defined––are all those muscles that align, stabilize and move the trunk of the body. When the core is strong and flexible, bodily stresses are well-distributed, the spine is well-supported, and we’re able to move efficiently.
• The Core includes much more than merely the large, external abdominal and gluteal muscles that receive the most attention in discussions about exercise and strength. We’ll look at the deeper, more extensive definition in another article.

Balance is essential to physical health . . . AND it is THE most important of all athletic traits. Since balance is dynamic––in the sense that it is ever changing––the adventure of trying to master it never ends. All mammals spend their lives in a constant battle with gravity. Those of us, who stand and walk upright on just two legs, face the greatest challenge.

Proprioception is the body’s ability to transmit a sense of position, analyze that information and react (consciously or unconsciously) to the stimulation with the proper movement. Put simply, it is the ability to know where a body part is without having to look. Proprioception allows you to scratch your head without looking in the mirror or walk up a flight of stairs without having to peer at each stair.

More to come on how the relationship between horses and their humans can be improved through the development of balance, core strength, and proprioception.