Q: I’m learning how to ride, and I’m having trouble staying balanced at the lope. My trainer tells me balance comes from the heels, but is there anything else I can do to stay secure in the saddle?
Ask your trainer to give you a couple of longe lessons so you can concentrate on relaxing in the saddle and learning how to ride the lope properly.
While you’re being longed, take your hand that’s not holding the reins and grab hold of the saddle’s cantle (the back of the saddle’s seat) for a few strides. This may help you to sit a bit more deeply in the saddle and follow the rocking movement of the lope a little better.
Dropping your stirrups while being longed at the lope will also encourage you to put weight on both seat bones, and you should feel more secure in the saddle.
When you take up your stirrups again, follow your trainer’s advice and put your weight in your heels by pushing them down slightly. Your knees and ankles should act as shock absorbers and help prevent you from bouncing around.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2014 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!