10/ MAY 2021 THE RIDER

Pro and Non-Pro Reiner Article Series Insiders Guide: Rider Position

Pro and Non-Pro articles written by Jen Jonas of Jonas Performance Horses (Pro) and Sharon Jones of Be A Better You (Non-Pro). Together, they are J&J Rein- ing Inc. Both Jen and Sharon are be- lievers in continual learning – if you’re not learning you’re not growing.

Sharon: One of the reasons I appreciate Jen’s coaching style is that she does not focus just on what the horse is doing, she looks at the whole picture – what is the rider doing to either help, or hinder the horse? I learned to ride in England at age 7, and sitting English is quite different to sitting Western. When I started riding West- ern in 2004 I looked like an English rider in a Western saddle… not very comfort-

able! I’ve been working on my rider position ever since and the faster I go, the harder it gets! I wanted to get Jen’s view on correct rider position and I must admit, when I read what

she’d written, I laughed out loud because yes… I am always hear- ing ‘lean back’ and ‘look where you’re going’ especially when practicing the faster reining ma- neuvers. Jen: We often talk a lot about the

Make the most of the time between horse shows!

Position’ shows she still has some of the English rider in her posture, she’s not looking where she is going and she has not mastered the art of lengthening the calf muscles to allow the heels to drop – even at a walk. The other 2 pictures ‘Correct Rider Position 1 & 2’ show the

Pictures: Here are 3 pictures of Sharon riding, the first ‘Incorrect Rider

benefits in fluid movement of putting it all together – so she can do it, it’s all about making it consistent! And yes, I often have to say ‘sit back and look where you’re going’!

1. Host a clinic. Need a fresh perspective? Riding sessions and workshops. Learn a new skill. Perfect an older one. The science of equine behaviour and learning for competitive and recreational riders. 2. Book some private/semi private lessons. “Is it me or my horse? Training YOU to train your horse with the tools of equitation science. Ask if I’m making farm visits in your area.

Sharing the science of equine behaviour and learning.

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Melanie Gray Shari Irwin

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Inactive Judges John Ward

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horse’s body position, yet we don’t address our own position as a rider enough. Many riders focus so

much on the horse and what the horse is doing or not doing, trying desperately to fix the horse. Often times, from what I observe, if the rider could reposition them- selves on top of the horse to make sure they are giving the horse the best chance of success, that would either fix the problem they are having or enable the horse to do a better job in their work.

Here are a few body

position problems that I en- counter with students: 1) Not sitting back. When riders lean forward, they don’t have the right seat connection that enables them to communicate effec- tively with their horse. I know my students hear a lot of “Sit back” during our les- sons! Sitting back in the rundowns especially makes a huge difference. 2) Looking up. I think most of us are all guilty of this one at some point, but if we can make a conscious effort to ride looking up, to see where we are going or even better where we want to go -we will end up there. Such a small thing to change yet has big rewards in the end! 3) Leaning. I believe that a lot of riders tend to do this thinking that they are in

some way helping the horse. The problem is, when you lean to one side of the horse, you are off balance and therefore, so is the horse. Then your horse tries to compensate for you by shifting his weight to keep you under him. When your position is centered in the middle of the horse, and you are not tense – you’re sitting quiet, the horse can do his job more effectively. 4) Leg position. A rider should have their legs un- derneath them, not stuck out forward or even to the sides, with no contact on the horse. When your legs are underneath you, this creates more balance for you and your horse. Your reaction time will be quicker and much more effective! 5) Hollow lower back. When a rider has a hollow back, they are not effective with their hips or their seat which makes it challenging to engage any core muscles. Core muscles are essential to good rider position. The hollow-back


doesn’t create flowing movement in a horse, in fact the horse who can feel a fly land on his back so certainly can feel whether you are sit- ting centred or engaging your core or not, could be stiff and resistant. When you better your-

self as a rider, you better your horse!

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