Three Different Areas of Tips:

Ways to practice getting your legs back while on the ground:

Do backward leg raises while brushing your teeth – 30 straight back with each leg.

  • Then slightly bend the standing leg and, with your other leg slightly out to the side to mimic being on the horse, do another 30 back leg raises with each leg.
  • Be sure to stand up stall with your ears, shoulders, and hips in a vertical line – breastbone lifted and butt tucked under.
  • Challenge yourself by standing on a wobbly surface such as a wobble board or cushion or foam roller.  You can hang onto something for safety.
  • Stand on the edge of a step with your heel lowered and reach back with the other leg.

Balancing tips, sitting:

Sit on a large stability or yoga ball the correct size for your height (check the packaging).

  • Mimic proper riding position, sitting up tall.
  • Hold onto something for safety and support.
  • Pick up your toes and let go.
  • Practice finding the balance point.
  • Five minutes a day is all you need.


Stand on a balance cushion or board.  The board can be as small as one foot square to as large as three feet square.  Round is also good, but it is harder.

  • Balance while standing up straight, knees slightly bent.
  • Try standing on a foam roller.
  • Use a teeter board.  You’ll need a length of 1×8 and a piece of 2×4.  Place the center of the board over the 2×4 placed on its narrow edge.
  • Keep something close by to hang onto if necessary.

Sitting Up Straight:

Sitting up straight in the saddle requires that you sit up straight all the time.  Try these tips:

Stretch up tall all the way from your pelvis to the top of your head, as if someone’s pulling on a string attached to the top of your head.

  • Lift the breastbone up and out, allowing the shoulders to drop, the head to come back, and the chin to come down, so that your ears are in line with your shoulders.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together, overarching the upper spine. Tuck the pelvis, especially if you have too much curvature in the low spine.
  • While driving, grab the steering wheel at positions 7 and 4 on the clock face with your palms up.  Bend your elbows and pull your ribcage up and forward to meet your elbows, allowing your upper arm to hang straight down with your elbows bent.

About Laurie Higgins

I play with clicker training - with my horses, dogs, and cats. I also attempt to grow vegetables with the hope of one day being able to feed my family from my garden. My daughter and I are learning ballroom dancing. Well, we were. But she left me for a paying horse job, so now my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing. I'm also now helping Peggy Hogan, of Clicker Training Horses (and The Best Whisper is a Click) to teach people how to train their own horses using "clicker training".
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7 Responses to Three Different Areas of Tips:

  1. monickhalm says:

    Those are helpful exercises, even if you’re not a horseback rider.

  2. hunterjudge says:

    Thank you Laurie. As always great tips for riders to help them with getting their legs back. How much does the saddle have to do with this? if the saddle doesn’t fit the rider it does effect how well they sit.

    Thanky ou for these great tips

  3. twiliath22 says:

    Laura, the saddle is a very important factor. Another is one’s basic conformation. If you naturally have too much curve in the lower spine, trying to find neutral pelvis is difficult. When you do find it, the legs come with (more forward). So it can be doubly hard to get the legs back trying to do both things – neutral pelvis with tight hip flexors.

  4. twiliath22 says:

    Continuing: If you naturally have a flat lower back, that puts you in a chair seat. So that makes it difficult to get the legs back.

    So on to saddle fit and I only kinda know dressage saddles. I’m not an expert at all on saddle fit and it’s a royal pain in the tuckus finding one to fit yourself and your horse. It would be really great if the staff in the saddle shops understood rider conformation in order to help you find the right saddle.

    For instance, if you find a saddle that’s really comfortable for you, but it puts you in a chair seat, look at why it does that but also look at why that’s comfortable for you. Maybe your conformation tends to a chair seat anyway. If you know that ahead of time and now go looking for a saddle and, let’s say, you find one that “puts you in the right position” – what does that mean exactly? Does it have big thigh rolls to force your thighs back? That might be great for the legs, but then, what does that do to your back? That might force your lower back into a painful position of more arch than it can handle. This then might cause you to have your shoulders too far back. Or maybe the opposite happens – you end up leaning forward.

    I posted a photo of an upper level rider on my FB page a few days ago and someone wanted to know how the rider got her legs so vertical. I don’t know for a fact how she does that, but I could see that she was ever so slightly on her crotch (fork) with a concomitant arch in her lower back. Everything is connected to everything else and you can’t look at just the little pieces without looking at the whole and seeing how each change affects other things.

  5. What great tips. I’ve always struggled with ideas on exercises that can help me work some muscles right during periods off the horse so I’m not so sore when I start back with many, and suspect some of these may help. It’s so hard to use muscles as you do on a horse when off, but some of these may help. Thanks!

  6. twiliath22 says:

    You really do have to develop body awareness. Do it thoroughly on the ground, then apply slowly when riding. Sometimes “progress” in training has to take a back seat to feeling and applying your new body awareness.

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