Whatever your chosen Equestrian discipline they all require the same fundamentals from you as a rider.
Yes, there are differences in your position if you’re doing Dressage as opposed to Jumping, however there are many principles that remain the same whatever actual position you may be in.
- Straightness. Whether trotting the centre line or approaching a fence, being able to ride straight makes a huge impact on how successful that will be. Obviously in Dressage lack of straightness will affect your marks. When jumping, the line to the fence can have an impact on whether you clear it and then the line following landing sets the success for your line to your next fence.
- Stability and Self Carriage. The ability to support your own body weight gives your horse the space to manage his own balance. If you’re unbalanced your horse has to manage your weight as well as his own. If your horse is a little unbalanced being able to support him with your own stability can help him to achieve his own balance with time. Again, the ability to remain stable over a fence makes the job a lot easier for your horse, as well as stability being able to hopefully keep you out of trouble if it goes a little awry.
- Proprioception. This is just a posh way of saying body awareness. It’s really helpful when riding to have good awareness of what your body is actually doing. For example, if you ask for go with your legs but say whoa with your hands that’s not a clear aid to your horse. Or perhaps you’ve no idea you always slide your left leg further back than your right and it’s affecting your Dressage scores. A good level of body awareness can help you identify and then address these asymmetries.
- Shock Absorption. Riding of any style requires your body to absorb the movement of the horse underneath you. In flatwork this enables you to move with the horse, maintaining good, relaxed stability. Over a fence this enables you to land well and in balance. This has two benefits; firstly in preventing you from distorting your horses balance on landing and secondly setting you up well to ride away from the fence and possibly onto the next one. It is also vital for helping you ride pain free. A body that isn’t able to absorb the movement underneath it will overuse some muscles and under use others. It will also place more strain on the joints and ligaments again potentially causing pain.
These are the things that whatever your chosen discipline you should be considering in your off horse workouts.