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Today I’ve got a special exercise for equestrians to improve your seat while riding.
Whether you’re a dressage rider, three day eventer, show jumper, reiner or cutter, this practice will balance your pelvis so you’re more comfortable in the saddle and have a better connection to your horse.
It will also help to relieve back and hip pain issues during and after riding.
But even if you’re not an equestrian.– or you don’t even know what one is — you may still want to stick around because the exercise I’m going to show you is one I use regularly with clients to help with back pain and poor posture while sitting.
How To Improve Your Seat For Horseback Riding
What you’re going to need to do this exercise is a wobble board (Amazon). Now, if you have a stability ball or a bosu ball lying around, you can sub that in temporarily.
But to get the maximum benefit from this practice, I definitely recommend picking up a wobble board, which is one of my favorite tools actually for solving physical imbalances. It just works so well and I think you’ll see why here in a minute.
The one that I like to use is from FitterFirst, and you can find it on Amazon.
How To Do The Exercise To Improve Your Seat: Anterior/Posterior
So what you’re going to do is actually to sit in the middle of the wobble board keeping your feet on the floor, legs crossed.
You want to make sure that you are centered on the board and that you are sitting up on your sitting bones, or ischial tuberosities. Those are the little pointed bones at the base of your pelvis.
If your hips are tucked under and your lower spine is rounded, you won’t be able to do this exercise properly — and if you’re an equestrian, this isn’t how you want to be sitting in the saddle.
So once you’re properly aligned, all you’re going to do is using your core muscles, gently tip the board forward and backward, moving from your pelvis.
This mimics the motion of riding because when you’re on a horse, you need your lower body to move with the horse while your shoulders stay centered and still over your pelvis.
If your upper body is rocking back and forth with the horse’s movement you’ll have a hard time staying balanced.
Wobble Board Vs. Bosu Ball: Which Is Better?
The reason a wobble board is better than a bosu ball is because the bosu ball keeps you in contact with the floor the whole time so it allows you to cheat a little bit.
When you’re on the wobble board, you’re going to see right away where you’re tight and where you can’t control the movement of your pelvis, and it will start to build the strength and mobility you need for balanced movement while riding.
Core Exercise For Equestrians
As you’re doing this, you’re engaging your core muscles while at the same time mobilizing your lower back muscles.
A lot of core exercises create stiffness and rigidity in your center, and not only does that not work for riders, it results in back and hip problems over time.
Like I said, this is actually a great exercise for anyone who has lower back stiffness and tension.
How To Do The Exercise To Improve Your Seat: Lateral Movement
So now that you’ve moved the board forward and backward, we’re going to tip it side to side.
This is the same principle. You only want to be using the muscles of your core and pelvis to move the board so mind that you’re not tipping your shoulders side to side.
You are using your feet to balance, but lightly, just like you would balance in the stirrups of the saddle. They’re there for support but they can’t do the work for you.
You might find that you move more easily to one side or the other, and this is going to tell you a lot about how you ride, right? Because if you tend to sit heavier on one seat bone, your horse is going to feel that.
And if you aren’t able to drop the other seat bone into the saddle, you’re going to have trouble moving your horse off that side of your pelvis.
You might think your horse is crooked but actually it’s you! I actually had a client one time who told me her horse had a hard time turning to the left.
I never met the horse, but I did about six or seven sessions with her and somewhere after the third or fourth one, she told me, “My horse is turning left really great now!”
How To Do The Exercise To Improve Your Seat: Putting It All Together
Okay, so now we’re going to put this all together and make circles. So let’s do three circles to the left. Make sure you’re moving slowly here, the slower you move the more chance your body has to let go of all that tension you’re holding onto.
If you move too quickly you’ll just hold onto the same old movement habits that you’ve always had and the point here is to change your movement, to improve it.
And now to the right. Make sure you hit all the four points of the circle, so front, right side, back and left side. Try to make your circle as smooth as possible. And no the edge of the board doesn’t have to touch the floor.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, a simple exercise to improve your seat while riding your horse, whether that’s dressage, eventing, reining or even just a casual trail ride. It will make you more comfortable in the saddle and your horse will appreciate it too.
This is a great exercise to use daily and you can also use it as a warm up right before you get in the saddle to ride.
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