A featured entry in the "Deep Seat" series

Each week during this series I will present a rider problem that interferes with a deep seat and rider stick-to-it-itiveness.

Stiff rider: Not breathing

Illus. 7, 8

When you notice that a rider is sitting very stiffly and not moving in sync with the horse, it is often because she is not breathing. Your horse will also indicate that this is the problem by acting uncomfortable and losing rhythm or wanting to stop. This will cause the rider to bounce (Illus. 7).

Breathe regular steady breaths (Illus. 8). Next, try this exercise:

  • First, hold your breath for a few strides, then breathe for a few strides. Repeat this at the walk all the way around the arena. Think about the differences you feel in your body and the horse’s body when you breathe as opposed to when you don’t breathe.
  • Make small circles and reverses during this exercise. Ask yourself what you felt. You learn better when you verbalize what you feel.
  • You will find that the horse is more relaxed and steady when you are breathing. He will also stop less. You will bounce less and find it easier to steer because your muscles are not stiffening. Your body will be softer and more relaxed when you are breathing. This soft relaxation will allow you to move with your horse.

Debbie Kay Sams

Debbie Kay Sams has written for Practical Horseman, Equine Journal, and Instructor magazines. For many years she has organized and led drill-team riding for all… See Bio

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