We asked British Equestrian Federation Elite recreational coach and consultant, Andrew Stennett, BHSM Cert Ed FE UKCC Level 4, to share some positional pointers for male riders
All riders must learn how to acquire the correct riding seat and position; for men, but this expertise may need to be a little more specific and less generalised than perhaps it is for ladies! The male horse rider will quickly learn to adjust his position and body weight in order to protect his more tender areas. Some side effects of incorrect, ‘protective’ posture could be a hunched back, causing the elbows to stick out and an incorrect line of rein contact; the rider’s head tipped down and sideways; legs too far forward, and heels raised, rather than ‘deep’.
What does a good riding position entail?
Let us start from a good seat position, whereby you are sitting deep into your saddle on your seat bones. Automatically, you will have an improved contact and feel with the horse, allowing you to sit up straighter, pushing your heels down and encouraging depth and length of leg with weight into the stirrups. The correct picture is already beginning to form, and from there we can move on to considering the imaginary line from bit, to hand, to elbow. Next, we must ensure straight shoulders, and the head sitting straight and looking forwards.
It is important to maintain fitness and work on inner core strength. Ideally you need to be fit for the activity you are doing, and as you become more proficient, there will be less aches and pains as your body acclimatises to the routines you are performing. Trials and tribulations are to be expected but will be a very rewarding and satisfying challenge to work through! There are on-horse exercises to help you improve, such as sitting trot, riding without stirrups and lunge lessons.
Strengthening your back is an important process for any horse rider, and simple work at home can help, such as pilates, ‘planking’ (search online for ‘planking for horse riders’, for tips), some gymnasium equipment and correct weight lifting. Conversely, do be very cautious of causing back problems with the wrong kind of work, or exercise. Even cutting out bad habits in your daily routines would be a good starting point, e.g. carrying heavy weights correctly and sitting in an office chair with god posture.
A common mistake for male riders is often starting out with incorrect clothing; it is not only uncomfortable but could also be dangerous. Riding in jeans for example is likely to cause chafing of the legs. Men, in particular, need to be aware of these problems and also consider some of the wonderful riding underwear provided by DerriereEquestrian, as well as the fabulous competition and training breeches!
Ironically, once they become established riders, men generally end up with a deeper seat than women, which may give them more ‘stickability’ in the saddle, and perhaps goes some way in explaining why there are so many more male riders at the top of all the equestrian disciplines.
Andrew Stennett is a registered instructor, NVQ/UKCC Assessor & Verifier. He is a Qualified Teacher of further Education specialising in Equestrian Learning and Development, and is a British Equestrian Federation Elite Recreational Coach.
Andrew is a fan of Derriere Equestrian products, telling us they make a big difference to his riding. “Derrieres enabled me to get back riding in comfort after a break, and they are helping me compete at the same level as in my youth,” he says.
When a rider is comfortable in the saddle, even at a subconscious level, they will ride with a deeper, more effective seat. Carl Hester MBE Brand Ambassador for Derriere Equestrian products believe in the underwear to such a level, he is famously quoted in saying
“Every Rider Should Be Wearing Them”
The more comfortable and higher performing the padding is, the greater energy savings and better posture for the horse rider. On the contrary, discomfort can cause the rider to move in the saddle while trying to readjust their posture, interrupting the harmony between the horse and rider.
The Derriere Equestrian Range was developed by Claire Galer Equine and Human Physiotherapist. After years of working closely with horses and riders from grass routes through to Olympic level competitors, it became clear to Claire the need for such garments to fill a gap in the market for riders for technically designed performance underwear for equestrian sport. When conducting symmetry assessment with riders and working through product testing, the results and effects on rider position, comfort and resultant performance were quite phenomenal.
When a rider is seated in total comfort and with products that are not visible to others through their breeches, yet offer luxurious padded support, a rider will ride more effectively and with a closer union with their horse.
No need to worry about uncomfortable seamlines, underwear moving where it shouldn’t, Derrieres support riders to perform at their best.