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The best riders stay on top

Don Jessop

Sounds pretty obvious but it's more nuanced than you think. Here's why...

On a basic level, falling off is undesirable, so not falling off makes you a "better rider." Athletic people do this quite naturally. Some of us have to work a little harder. And most of us should never put ourselves in a situation that is too challenging to stay on top. It's dangerous to say the least.

More than just surviving, the concept of staying on top goes much deeper. Great riders actually practice finding the top balance point of a horse standing or in motion and always stay on it. Basically, that means no exaggerated weight shifting or learning in any direction.

To find that exceptional balance, especially in motion, you need to find something else. You need to find the extremes of mobility within yourself. This is the whole point to seat training exercises like reaching for your toes while walking, laying back, or leaning forward intentionally, or twisting back and forth while stretching your arms out to your sides. These exercises not only increase your flexibility and mobility, they also, and more importantly, I might add, make you find the middle, the top. I almost never do "perfect seat training" by focusing on the seat or position. I almost always focus on exploring extreme mobility. I should clarify. Mobility within reason of your own extremes. Gotta know your body.

Many traditional trainers coach their riders through rigorous posture (torture) training sessions. They ride for an hour while making a thousand corrections about the arch in the back, the position of the elbow, etc. It's hard work and it doesn't really pay off. The more natural way of increasing mobility and learning extremes of your own capabilities, changes how you adapt and how you look instantly. It's natural, effective, efficient, and beautiful.

Years ago, I earned my private pilot's license. It took many months and lots of time flying. I was lucky to have an instructor that helped me understand the value of rigid rules. But he also helped me understand the value of testing limits within reason. Meaning don't test without a reason. Don't do it just for fun. Be smart about it. Set yourself up for success and take advantage of learning.

One of the limits we tested was the small planes maneuverability. He wanted me to know early on what the plane could and couldn't do safely. With in seconds of exploring this my confidence grew and my skill too. I suddenly had a better idea of how to fluidly fly the plane. All we did was make a couple of sharp turns. Sharper than my early confidence would allow, but with his coaching I proved to find a more natural middle path and my grip on the yoke lightened. Over the next months we did similar tests. All within the bounds of safety and reason. He wanted me to understand what's really possible and find the balance. The same goes for making a good pilot, I mean rider. ūüėÄ

The best riders look for the middle, the top, and they work to stay there. They look for it by knowing the outer limits. With practice the balance looks effortless. The beginning is obviously awkward. No worries, you can do it at your pace. I encourage you to become an elite rider by doing more mobility training.

‚ÄčAs it happens, we have a whole section of our confidence course dedicated to this. Check out the confidence course now.

Don Jessop - Blog Welcome

Hi! I'm Don Jessop

With Mastery Horsemanship

I write to inspire, educate and encourage you on your horse and personal journey.

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