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Improve Horse Riding Skills with Video

Video Your Horseback Ride

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You’ve probably read about learning the proper position in the saddle, and your coach is likely making lots of suggestions on how to improve your leg, seat and rein aids. You know that you’re supposed to maintain a straight line from your ear, down through your shoulder, hip and heel to maintain a secure riding seat. And you are learning how to use your legs, hands and body to control your horse.

Why Video Tape Your Ride?

There’s a lot to think about as you learn to ride and sometimes this means checking and rechecking, as you try to picture where one body part is in relation to the rest of you! And sometimes, small adjustments feel huge, but really aren’t. Something like sitting up straighter, dropping or raising your stirrups a hole, or dropping your heels further down can feel really strange if you’re trying to break a habit of hunching, pointing your toes in or out or pinching with your knees.

Besides your coach, a video camera can be a good friend in improving your riding. Video can help you really see what your riding looks like. The next time you ride, set the camera in the corner of the ring or arena. Put it where it will capture as much your ride as possible. I sit mine on top of a jump standard in the corner of the arena. Now, just before you mount up, hit the record button.

Of course if you have a friend that will do the taping as you ride, that’s even better. Ask them to zoom in on your hands, or heels or whatever else you feel (or you coach suggests) you need to work on.

What Will You See When You Video Your Ride?

You’ll probably ride in and out of the picture, but you’ll see enough to observe your riding skills and your horse’s attitude and way of going. Notice what your hands are doing, if your legs are swinging or your heels are creeping upwards. Take note of your posture, if your shoulders are back and you are looking straight ahead and not tipping your head down or your whole torso forward.

Notice too how your horse is reacting to your aids. Is your horse resisting in any way, with behaviors like tossing its head, hollowing its back or switching its tail in agitation? Can you see a great difference between how your horse goes in one direction compared to the other? You may also see things like a saddle that shifts or lifts when you post.

Yes, you are probably aware of what is going on with your riding and your horse as you ride. But there is something about watching yourself that really helps you picture what is going on. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. Do notice what you are doing right. Are your hands nice and steady? Does your horse look happy and relaxed at the canter or lope? Can you see something that has improved over time? Build on what is working, and video yourself riding again after a time so you can see your progress.

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