Welcome to the third installment of our mini-series. The first two installments were classroom-based, and now we head out into the arena to introduce you to the first letter of our alphabet of solutions: ‘A’ is for alignment.

We hope you enjoy this video. You could post a photo of you on your horse in the comments below, and one of our coaches will offer friendly feedback on your alignment. 



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Mish C

I find the whole RWYM way of learning powerful as it explains the “why” which traditional riding doesn’t always – you are just asked to “do something”. I was always the annoying kid who would ask “why” and quite often told “because I told you to” by the instructor. Having this information allows me to realise how important the changes I make to my body, however small, makes such a difference to the way my horse moves and now having an expanding toolkit is just so helpful. When I am solo schooling I do always try and record as sometimes when I feel I have made the difference I cannot always remember what I did to achieve it – so being able to watch back is so important

Ali Wakelin

I was also the annoying person who always asked why! And asking why shows you are a good learner as you are always searching for better ways to understand how to do things. A good coach will always encourage questions as they are a vital part of the learning process.
Watching yourself back on video is also very useful as sometimes how we think we look isn’t the reality; so seeing it on video can really help.
As a Dressage Training TV member you have access to the forums where you can post videos of yourself riding or doing groundwork and questions as often as you like. I will then comment on them and help you progress further.

Jade R

I started this journey round-backed, leaning back, seat bones pointing forward, with my feet nearly on my horse’s shoulders and I could not believe how Ali realigned my body in my first RWYM lesson. I thought I would fall off if he so much as sneezed! Nowadays I think I am much closer to the shoulder, hip, heel vertical feeling ‘normal’!

Ali Wakelin

Yes I remember well your first lesson. When I got you on vertical you said you were about to fall off over your horses ears but when I got you to go back into your old position a few days ago you struggled to do it.
The way our brain perceives where our body is is based on muscle memory so if we sit on a horse in a certain way for a while our brain decides that it must be correct. Then if I come along and put you in the correct alignment your brain will think that it is the wrong alignment until you have remained in it for a while. That is why videoing yourself riding is such a powerful way to help you understand where your body really is.

Hannah P

It’s so different to how you get traditionally taught. Sit up, chest up, stick your bum out, longer legs. It’s hard to realign but the horse response so well to sitting correctly. They tell you ‘yes that right!’

Ali Wakelin

Yes it is. The traditional language of shoulders back and heel down is not helpful for the majority or riders. And changing long held body patterns to those of correct alignment is challenging but so rewarding When you feel your horse change underneath you and you both become the partnership you have always longed for

Kate Taylor

Really helpful….thank you.

Helen S

It’s so easy to still cling onto tiny parts of your original default patterns, even if I am aligned. My body loves nothing more than to close down my chest and widen my shoulder blades, which in certain situations can send my seat bones out behind me!

Ali Wakelin

Yes, we all have some body patterns that just refuse to totally go away, and we have to just patiently chip away at them. Looking at your photo, you now have really good shoulder, hip heel alignment, but that annoying chest closing pattern is still there, stopping you from getting your ears to join in the rest of the correct alignment. It will go away in time, just look back at photos where you are tipped forward from your pelvis to see how far you have progressed.


One of the fascinating things I have learned is that my alignment is quite different on my two cobs. I have been working on my alignment on Sunny for a few years now with Ali Wakelin but had my first lesson with her on Chico last week. The difference in my alignment – especially my back – is significant! So you never stop and it is so important never to assume that what your body has learned on one horse will translate to another! You need to go right back to basics on each new horse!
I’ll post the pic of Chico in a second comment for comparison.


Building on my first comment below – Here’s the alignment photo on Chico – check out the soggy “box”. This was improved by Ali getting me to move my collar bones over my sternum (I was trying to fiddle around with my back muscles and that wasn’t working).

Petro Archer

Very helpful beacuse Mary explains it in practical ways, demonstrating on the rider