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The Position Checklist 

July 20th 2021

The position checklist is so important to use a cue in order to help make sure you are utilising the correct musculature and also building your AWARENESS of what your body is doing in the saddle.


It is something that as a student at Talland I had drilled into me and still is something I use every time I'm in the saddle and now practice with clients.


Your seat is your stability and base when riding. It is the main connection between you and your horse and therefore is the first thing to think about then riding. 


Imagine your seatbones as the 2 prongs of a plug and your saddle as the plug socket. 

Think about 'plugging in' your seat bones. A good connection and you will find the stability for the ideal position, a weak connection will result in a weak position. 


How to find your seat bones and 'plug in' your seat  -  

  • lift knees up to pommel, wiggle your bum, until you feel your seatbones

  • slowly lower your legs back down without moving the seat

  • lean back as far as you can with your upper body and slowly sit back up stopping where it feels right

This will put you on your seat - everytime!


Now your seat is correct lets look at your leg.

Your leg should hang naturally from your hips with the imaginary straight line drawn from your ear, through your shoulder & hip down to your heel

Once your seat is in place you need to adjust the leg appropriately to the correct position.


To do this....

Lift the leg up from the hip and move away from the saddle, you should feel a pull in the muscles in and around your groin/hip. This is normal! 

Hold the stretch for around 10 seconds and relax the leg back down. 

Don't worry at this point if your legs aren't where you want them on the shoulder hip heel line as they will naturally relax into position as you warm up and loosen up! 

**Always move the leg from the hip or you will initiate the wrong muscles and you will find you grip with the knee and lose your seat**


Because you have moved the leg you will need to go back and check your seat.



Make sure you're still sat on the seat bones and have not moved the upper body to compensate the new leg position. Adjust as necessary to stay 'plugged in'. 


This new position will most likely feel very weird - this means you're in the right position (due to the incorrect muscle memory from the previously incorrect position)


Shoulders need to be relaxed, straight and mirror the position of our seatbones (which they will if you follow this checklist! )


To get the shoulders in the right place do small circles in a backwards motion. When at the top of the shoulder circle drop the shoulders down 'into the pocket' 



Now your shoulders are correct, we need to make sure your head is in the right place (mentally and physically!)


Your head and neck should be carried into the back of your collar (if you wear polo shirts or a top with a collar then push your neck into the back of the collar, this will put it in the right place.



The head weights approx 5kg so if you tilt it or move it - your horse will feel it as your body (and your horse) will move to compensate the weight shift.


Elbows should be carried relaxed, by your side at an approximate 45 degree angle.

Imagine your holding a dinner tray, at hip height, its a similar position we are after on the horse.


Your elbows act as a suspension system between the horses mouth and your body so tension in your elbows goes straight to the horses' mouth.



Relaxed elbows leads to soft hands

Hands should be held around hip height and with thumbs on top, ALWAYS


The reason being is this makes your hands light.

Try this little experiment:

- hold out your hand as if holding reins

- hold them first with thumbs on top

- now turn them so they are horizontal thumbs pointing inwards

Feel the difference??


Arm anatomy plays a role here when hands are held in the correct position the radius and ulna align, support the wrist and take the weight which is why they allow you to have a lighter more effective contact and have those 'quick fingers!'

So there you have it! The position checklist. 

As you're riding around the arena take a minute to think about the position checklist -


Use this as a cue to help you relax into the correct position. 
This will not only improve your position but also your balance, riding and confidence as it is something you can work on consistently and see the results!!

Why not book in a lesson to put the theory into practice? 

Correct riding position
Shoulder circles for shoulder stability
Correct light hand position
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