ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Balance Seat Horsemanship

Updated on April 1, 2014
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.


What keeps you from falling off your horse? No, it's NOT the saddle horn! It is balance. Sounds to simple to be true? Read on, and you will see that it really is simple.

Yes, it is true. The key to "not falling off Ole Paint" is keeping your balance. How do you do that? Well, it is as easy as standing with your two feet on the ground. And that is where it all starts, with your feet.

Let's do an experiment. Stand up. Now, put both feet in front of your body, just an half inch. That's right, BOTH feet, at the same time, forward. Oops, did I say make sure you're standing on a soft surface?

Because, if you did what I asked, you are now most likely lying on the floor.

Okay, let's try a different approach. Put both feet behind your body. No, no, no fair! You can't lean forward! Aha! If you did that one without cheating, you are now lying flat on your face!

What I hope you can learn from this exercise is that unless your feet are UNDER your BODY, you will lose your balance and fall. The same holds true when you are mounted on your horse. Your feet must be in line with your body, in order for you to maintain a balanced position on the horse.

Anyone who has read a manual on horsemanship knows the prescribed position goes like this: sit in the middle of your saddle so that if you drop a plumb line from your ear, it will make a straight line from ear, to elbow, through the hip and down the back of your heel. You may have also been told that your knee must be in line with your toe. There are many ways to say the same thing. Sally Swift talks about the rider's building blocks in her book, Centered Riding, Helen Crabtree in her book, Saddleseat Equitation, told her riders to point their knees toward the ground. All of these instructions are aimed at the same thing, BALANCE, and to be balanced you must have your feet under your body.

But, when you are on top of your horse, it is sometimes difficult to know where your feet are. Having an instructor or helper on the ground constantly telling you to adjust your foot is one way to learn proper position. But, if you ride alone there is another exercise that will teach your body to stay in a balance position. Simply stand up in your stirrups. If you can stay standing, without grabbing hold of the reins or saddle horn, you are balanced. But, if you plop right down in the saddle you need to make an adjustment in foot position.

Take Ms. Crabtree's advice and point your knees toward the ground and try again. If you feel like you are going to fall over your horse's neck, you have your feet to far back. Roll your knee and thigh in toward the saddle to gain the proper amount of "feel". When your feet find the right placement, standing in the stirrups will be just as easy as standing on the ground. Practice this exercise at least five minutes per practice session, until you can ride at any gait while standing in your stirrups. Soon your muscles will remember the position and it will become a good habit.

Now that you have your feet in the correct position you must sit up straight. Another tip from Crabtree's book is to imagine that you are pulling your ribs up out of your waistband. This will place your body over your feet and cause you to sit ‘tall in the saddle." Now, roll your shoulders up and back, which opens your chest and allows your lungs to open and fill with air when you breathe. Hunching or pulling your shoulders in will tightened your back muscle and also causes shallow breathing.

The third point to remember is your head position. To stay in balance you must keep your head in line with your body. Remember the line dropping from the ear to the heel. Well, if your head is to far forward the line changes and you lose your balance, even if the feet are placed correctly.

But maintaining the proper head position is also easy. Just focus your eyes ahead of you. This comes in handy, because you can see where you are going! Keeping your eyes focused ahead, rather than down, insures the head does not pull the upper body forward. The human head is heavy, fifteen or more pounds. When you look down, the neck bends and causes the weight of your head to jut out in front of your body. Then the whole upper body leans ahead of the feet, and you are out of balance, again!

Whether you ride saddleseat, over fences, or rodeo broncos this rule of balance never changes. Keep your eyes up and your feet under your body, and no matter what your horse does, your chances of staying on Ole Paint are very good.

Drop an imaginary plumb line from the ear and it should go through the hip joint and to the back of the rider's heel.
Drop an imaginary plumb line from the ear and it should go through the hip joint and to the back of the rider's heel.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      GREAT advice!! im trying to teach my boyfriend to ride, and im having a tough time!! this will help him understand what im saying.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      11 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Thanks, Rochelle. I've been explaining it for over thirty years. most people are relieved when I tell them staying on the horse has nothing to do with how strong they are, how big or tall, etc. (not even how smart) it is all about balance. if you can stand on the ground without falling over, you can sit on the horse without falling off;o)

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      11 years ago from California Gold Country

      You explain this very well-- I haven't been on a horse for 45 years, but I''ll try to remember this next time I am.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      11 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I always dreamed on owning one of the cutback saddles with the adjustable bar, but they were out of my budget.

      Centered Riding was one of textbooks when I was in the equine tech school at MCC.

    • ridendurance profile image


      11 years ago

      Nice post Donna! Sally Swift and her Centered Riding instruction is one of my favorites. So many saddles of today hold your leg in improper alignment and it is constant work to keep your leg back. I love bareback riding most of all and it is such a great feeling of being one with your horse. And especially warm in the winter! LOL


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)