Position in movement
Proper riding position allows us to follow the movement of the horse at a walk, trot and gallop. Here's how our body reacts to the three gaits
The basis of equitation is the ability of the rider to stay in the saddle in the correct classical position and be able to maintain this position without tension in any situation. According to the principles of the classical position, the rider must position the weight just behind the withers near the center of gravity of the horse. The rider then divides the weight equally and finds equilibrium in joining the movement of the horse. Any 'deviation' from the ideal position is reflected in the movement of the horse, causing imbalance, and thus altering its temperament. The primary task of a rider is therefore to acquire the correct position and the good disposition in the saddle according to classical rules. This position must become instinctive, natural. When they get this result, riders are loose, soft and without tension. In fact, only the strictly necessary muscles are involved, and only when they are needed.
To summarize briefly the parameters of proper riding position: the head is high and loose with eyes moving - the shoulders are open, naturally loose and parallel to those of the horse - the trunk is straight but soft - the pelvis is pushed forward, towards the front part of the saddle - the hips are aligned and parallel to one another - the legs fall softly down - the feet are inserted into the stirrups, they are parallel to each other and are located exactly under the body - the weight of the body is on the stirrups; the ankles are flexed and the weight falls on the heels that move downwards - the arms are soft, the fall down with elbows slightly bent and close to the body - the hands, closed on the reins, are on the sides of the withers. Shoulders, arms, hands and mouth of the horse are on a single line.
Position at a walk
The horse walks in four times (for example: front left - rear right - front right - rear left). The whole spine of the horse oscillates during movement and consequently the head and neck fluctuate each time the horse rests a front foot on the ground. The rider must follow the movement of the body, head and neck of the horse and not hinder it. Keeping the hands on the reins and good soft and elastic contact with the mouth of the horse, the rider favors the movement of the head and neck by opening and closing the elbows and advancing and retracting the hands literally letting the horse 'carry' him. Similarly, maintaining the body soft, riders follow the movement of the horse's back, which sways with the hips and pelvis, but keeping the upper back and shoulders still. The weight is equally distributed on the two stirrups. To allow the horse to move freely at a walk, it is therefore necessary that the rider maintains the correct riding position, while keeping the body soft and loose and going along with the oscillations of the whole body of the horse. The body movements must never, however, be exaggerated. The body follows the movement of the horse and supports it as much as the horse requires.
The horse trots in two phases, moving diagonally: right diagonal (front right and rear left) and left diagonal (front left and rear right). At a light trot, the rider is raised from the saddle and sits following the movement of one of the two diagonal movements (for example, raises when the horse lifts the right diagonal feet and sits when it rests them on the ground. In this case the rider trots following the right diagonal). The important thing is that the rider is always in balance and follows the rhythm of the horse. Since the spine of the horse does not oscillate from the top down, such as in the case of the walk, the neck and the head are stationary, and then the rider's hands remain soft in constant contact, firm, but never fixed and they follow the relaxation of the neck downward and forward. There is no need to exaggerate the movement when rising up out of the saddle, which becomes the typical 'belly flop' attitude, it is sufficient to simply raise just enough to stay in rhythm and balance.
At the sitting trot, riders do not raise out of the saddle to the rhythm of the horse but they sit still. The rider absorbs the movement of the horse's back through the kidneys that gently follow the movement, but also through all the body: the legs, knees, and hips. The hands maintain constant, elastic and soft contact with the mouth remaining stationary, but never fixed, and they follow the stretching of the neck forward and downward. Also in this case, like at a walk, the body follows the movement of the horse and supports it as much as the horse requires. The pelvis is pushed forward toward the front of the saddle. The body weight is distributed partly on the saddle and partlt on the stirrups. The rider is sitting, but at the same time light, in the sense that he is not a heavy burden on the horse's back but, we may say, rests on the seat.
The gallop is performed in three stages: for example, at right gallop the horse moves like this: right rear - left diagonal - front right. At left gallop: rear left - right diagonal - front left. This makes the galloping pace asymmetric. At a gallop the horse moves the body forward and backward swinging with respect to its axis, with a 'tilting' movement. The rider must then follow and absorb this 'up and down' movement of the horse with the body, whether sitting or in lightweight position. At a sitting gallop, the rider compensates the push received from the horse with the pelvis and the kidneys, which are pushed forward toward the front arch of the saddle; the shoulders are open and still, the hands keep the contact steady and elastic and follow the oscillation of the neck through the softness of the forearm. The body sits on the saddle and on the heels. Like at a sitting trot, the rider is sitting, but light, because he does not weigh heavily on the horse's back but 'rests' on the seat. Galloping in lightweight position, the rider is slightly raised from the saddle with the back slightly tilted forward. Pushing the weight on the stirrups, the pressure received from the horse is compensated with the crotch, then with the pelvis, knees and ankle joints. It is important to maintain the balance with the weight equally distributed on the stirrups and with the shoulders parallel to the horse. All excessive and unnecessary movements should be avoided, as they create imbalance and discomfort in the horse. In short, the rider must always be in balance with the horse, in any situation and at all gaits.