The Myth of Thighs Away From The Saddle

What everyone should remember when training horses
9 months ago
9 months ago

Thighs away from the saddle, is a concept which I find completely alien to my way of looking at riding. To me it makes no sense in physics, makes no sense to the horse and essentially renders you depended on the reins for any kind of balance. It also puts all the weight in your seatbones or in the stirrups!

Perhaps it was an overreaction to ‘gripping with the knee’ which used to be taught a long while back?

The tenets of rider biomechanics , so well elucidated by Mary Wanless BHSI, include the following basic requirements.

  1. The rider should be correctly aligned, should have a neutral spine.
  2. The rider should be responsible for their own weight in the saddle.
  3. The rider should provide enough tone to match the forces generated by the horse.

Now lets imagine taking your thighs away from the saddle, in combination with the other myth of ‘Relax’…

What would be the consequences?

  • All your weight in now down in your seatbones pressing down into the horses back. You are supposed to balance on the single point of your underneath as the horse jumps from one step to the next. This ignores basic physics… it can’t be done, balance or not
  • OR Your weight ends up into your stirrups which swings your leg forwards, pushes your seat backwards and upwards, which can then pitch you forwards. Weight in stirrups is the opposite of sitting deep – Newton’s third law of motion.
  • Your attempts to ask your horse to be supple and relaxed over the back don’t work because all your weight is down the hollow of the horse back on your seatbones.
  • When the horse accelerates forwards, as he jumps from one leg to another, you fall backwards due to the forces and basically have to use the reins to support.

If you have every ridden a powerful athletic horse, with big movement, you soon come to realise that thighs away and no take leaves you at the mercy of wherever your body is thrown about! Just check out some of our most elite dressage riders, and realise there is not any floppy thighs or floppy riders.

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