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[RC] SAUDI Arabia's Latifa Al Shaikh - riding posture - Lisa Jordan

This is one of the subjects I think about often.  From history and now science, we can say that there is a "most" effective way for a horse to move when carrying itself and when carrying a rider so that they can accomplish a variety of movements.  there are variations defined by breed certainly. 

In my work I spend time with trainers, Vets, farriers, equine body workers and horses and riders of varying disciplines.  Some are very successful.  I have spent years trying to work out the details of Steph's question.  The very basic answer that seems to make sense - the more horses and riders that I study - is this: 

The typical FEI-trained Endurance horse is generally race-built.  Training regims vary, however the balance point of the horses appear to be similar.  the build and training for the flat racers appears to result in the balance point of the horse slightly forward of the balance point expected in a horse trained to build muscle for well rounded movement.  The lighter hind ends, powerful shoulder and head/neck carriage combined with the general look of the muscling speaks to this theory. 

When riding a horse at speed in a three beat (canter) or four beat (gallop) where there is a point in time that the weight is on a single front leg prior to push-off with the weight of the horse developed to balance slightly forward of optimal balance, there is a period of time when the horse's neck acts as the ballast to re-distribute the weight back to begin the next stride.  On a horse with this description, the rider who sits in the seat being discussed might be helping the horse to balance less on the forehand during this point in the stride and during the transition to the start of the next stride - effectively maximizing the horse's movement and reducing strain.  This could be tested at MSU (Michigan) if anyone wants to convince a grad student that it's worth while!  These horses are being trained and ridden for a very specific goal.  There is little variety in the movement needs of the 100 mile racing horse.  They do need to do what they do perfectly as it is highly repetitive. 

In dressage one learns how the horse should be developed to maximize self carriage to put the least stress on any one part while being asked to do a variety of increasingly difficult physical maneuvers.  The rider's part in this case is being available to be balanced with the horse and use ones body help it to achieve the movement asked of it (as technical for the rider as it is for the horse as the levels increase).  At present I will refer to dressage as described and researched by Hilary Clayton DVM and Gerd Heuschmann DVM (there are others in other disciplines that follow the same principles).  The reason for this is there are as many interpretations of dressage as there are of .... I won't say it.:-)

Anyone else?