The Secret To Stop Bouncing When You Ride

Dressage Mastery TV Ep232

How do you stop bouncing in the saddle?

Okay, so lots of riders hate sitting trot and hate cantering, and pretty much hate riding in general because they feel they bounce. Now, obviously when you’re on a horse, there’s movement pushing around and you will bounce unless you counteract that movement with tensing and tightening certain muscles.

So if I relax and go, I’m going to sit on the couch. What happens to me? I’m bouncing because I’m thinking, well, I just want to sit on the couch from using no muscle tension whatsoever ( I’m using a bit, otherwise I will fall off). So your job as a rider is to work out what muscles you need to relax because you need to relax muscles. Now if I tighten everything see you I’m bouncing more and poor Lordy, he’s like, what the hell? But if I tighten every single muscle in my body, he thinks slow down, which is good, but it’s too tight and you bounce even more.

So if I sit too relaxed – I bounce, if I sit too tight and tense – I bounce. Oh my God, what am I meant to do? The in between that grey area!

I’m sure if you’ve had any kind of riding lessons that your stomach should be like a pilates stomach. So if no one’s ever done pilates before, you think about your belly button into your spine – so you pull everything in so it’s taut and tense but not so tight and tense that you could only hold that for 10 seconds. It needs to be something that you can engage.

So think of rather than tightening or tensing. Like if I’m going to do an arm wrestle, I’m going to contract and tighten those muscles to do an arm wrestle as hard as I can because I want to win the arm wrestle. But that’s not something I could do for an hour. So it needs to be a tension that you can hold, a tension that isn’t making you sweat – but it’s something that you’re consciously doing. It’s not sitting on the couch eating Doritos, watching whatever, because there’s no stomach tension going on there.

Even when you stand. This is why people don’t like to stand for long periods, because you can’t stand, slouched over. You have to hold a certain amount of stomach tension to keep you straight. So it’s the same with the horse. And play! So many people when they get on their horse they don’t play! So ride a trot and go, okay, I’m going to pull my stomach in 10 percent. I’m going to pull my stomach in 20 percent. I’m going to pull my stomach in 30 percent…etc… and feel if you bounce more or less. You saw when I was too relaxed, I bounced more. When I was too tense I bounced more. Somewhere in that gray zone was where I stopped bouncing. So play with that.

The next thing is don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever gripped with your knees or grip with your thighs. You saw that was the more bouncing. When I really tightened and my legs out, I popped out of the saddle, which makes sense. If I tightened, I can’t sit in the saddle I pop up, which is definitely going to make me bounce. So I need to open it all up. Think about, you know, you should be able to on the horse really open your hips and be able to move them around, so you can really have your legs open.

So you’ll see in the walk, my knee is not in contact with the horse. It doesn’t have to be, that’s not what holds me on the horse. My two seat bones are plugged in and my very, very, very high upper groin muscles are tight and holding me into the saddle. So sucking me into the saddle. But the legs are loose and the legs have to be loose – they are my shock absorbers – they need to take all the movement that’s throwing me up and down and being able to absorb that. So my actual upper body from my seat up doesn’t move.

So I trust that helps. Basically, practice, practice, practice, play, play, play, tighten loose, tighten loose, play with tightening your toes and loosening your toes. Play with tightening your elbows and loosening your elbows. Play with your stomach, play with your back. Really try and focus on your upper groin because that’s where the magic is. That’s where you can pull and hold yourself into the saddle and I know your seat will immensely improve and will stop you bouncing. Enjoy.

If this video has helped you and you want to take your dressage riding to the next level, I would love to invite you to become part of the Dressage Mastery Academy. Click on the link below to find out more.