How the Equiseat Aid can help common rider problems
I’ve worked with horses and riders for the past 30 years and in that time, there has been some truly amazing progression in horsemanship in that time. One of those key changes is that we’re more aware of the impact of the rider’s balance and physical limitations on the horse and its ability to do its job. I’m sure other older coaches can remember top riders eating bacon butties and smoking cigarettes, long before the days of protein shakes and salads! Now, professional riders at the very top of their sport often have fitness coaches, physios and even sports psychologists to help them ensure they can be a helpful partner to their horse and not inhibit its movement in any way. But those riders with access to so much support are very few and far between, and the rest of us must work it out as we go along. Even those riding at advanced levels may well have issues that they have learnt to compensate for over the years, but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. When I developed the Equiseat Aid it was principally to help riders achieve straightness and balance in the saddle, but now it’s been used for several years it has become apparent that it helps with several other common rider problems. Let’s take a closer look:
Twisting over a fence
Many of us are focused on the horse as we approach a fence - whether that’s more leg, left rein/right rein or giving them their head. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve reminded pupils to think about staying straight but it’s easier said than done! When the pressure is on in that moment just before a fence it’s very common to revert to old habits with your own position or for your muscle memory to take over completely. The Equiseat Aid acts as a reminder for your body to help it stay straight on the approach to, in the air and landing over a fence. That improved straightness will help your horse pick up and push off more equally and land balanced and ready for the next question.
If you notice that your saddle is consistently slipping to the same side, or that your horse’s coat is being slightly rubbed from the saddle moving, the first step should always be getting the saddle fit checked. But if you’ve had the all clear, the reason for that could be that your imbalance is causing the saddle to slip, or the differing pressure in your seat bones means your horse can’t engage its top line evenly, and the saddle slips to one side. Either way, the Equiseat Aid will encourage you to sit square and put equal pressure through both your seat bones and helps to eliminate saddle slipping.
Less bend or freedom on one rein
This is such a common problem among riders of all levels. Even if their horse can demonstrate impressive bend, they quite often report that one side is better than the other. That could be due to rider imbalance, in fact it often is, but there is another cause too. All riders have a dominant side, and that dominant leg is prone to ‘gripping up, particularly when it’s on the inside of a circle. That bracing of their thigh against the horse, against the rib cage, makes it harder for them to bend. Luckily, the Equiseat Aid helps open the thigh and ensure the inside seat bone is engaged, stopping the leg gripping and giving the horse that all-important freedom to bend!
Uneven muscle development
Again, if your horse is exhibiting muscle wastage on one side (or seems to develop muscle more slowly on one side) then the first stop should be getting a professional out to check them over. But it’s one which is worth mentioning here as I’ve seen plenty of examples of horses with uneven topline muscle which is entirely caused by rider imbalance. The Equiseat Aid was designed to improve balance, so it’s certainly worth a try if your horse is demonstrating uneven muscle development.