Positioning

Again, I`ve been swotting up with my coaching books, and in one of the more old fashioned books it talks a lot about position left and position right.

They aren`t terms you hear that often now, but actually they are useful phrases to know because as they encompass a whole explanation within two words so act as useful reminders when teaching.

So what are these different positions? And don`t get thinking that they are some strange yoga contortions!

Think about when you are riding in a straight line – in walk, trot, or canter – you are sat evenly on your seat bones, your legs are hanging symmetrically by the girth, there is an even rein contact and the hands are held at the same height, and level. Ideally, you are symmetrical.

Now think about turning left. Your left shoulder comes back as you turn your upper body left. Your left leg stays on the girth, and the right leg comes behind the girth as your weight shifts slightly left. The left rein opens slightly, and the right rein stays close to the shoulder. You are looking left. This is position left. Everything about the way you are positioning your body says “we are turning left”.

Logic dictates then, that position right is right shoulder back, upper body turning right. Head looking to the right with the right rein open and the left rein close to the shoulder. Right leg is on the girth and left leg is behind, with the weight shifted slightly right.

Now think about the aids for canter. They are the same as “position left” or “position right” aren`t they? So thinking about these two positions can help a rider make it clear to their horse which canter lead they want, help improve their feel for the correct strike off, and help improve a horse who favours one lead over another.

Incorporating these terms into teaching can also save on “wordage” – highly important when you spend as many hours talking as I do – because you only have to state which position your rider needs to be in instead of each individual body part.

These different body positions, and the ability to switch between the two came in very useful for a jumping exercise I did earlier this week … but you`ll have to check out the blog tomorrow!

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