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Q & A with RS-tor advocate Show Jumper Michaela Huntington

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Michaela Huntington, RS-tor advocate, answer’s a customer’s question…

 

 

Question

 

‘’I am a novice rider and recently purchased a young cob; she’s brilliant, except in the arena at times, when she can be quite cheeky. I’ve fallen off twice in one month, and though I put this down more to my balance as a rider, I was wondering if there were any devices out there that could help me to stay in the saddle? Short of putting super glue on the saddle, I am currently reliant on the neck strap and mane, which obviously isn’t helping! Any advice would be much appreciated.’

 

Answer

 

Congratulations on buying your new horse – what an exciting time! As you have realised, balance is a key challenge for novice riders, and it is commonplace for smart horses to take advantage of an imbalanced rider. This is when things like run-outs at fences, or little bucks as you go into canter start becoming undesirable equine behaviours! There are two simple things you can do to help your stability in the saddle, which will in turn help with both your confidence, and the calm authority you exert when training your cob.

The first one is to really focus on your own balance – even if this means lunge lessons on a more experienced horse. To ‘sit’ through ‘cheeky’ equine behaviours, you must have good core strength, and very reactive abdominal muscles. You don’t need a washboard stomach, but the abdominal muscles of well-balanced riders contract automatically to balance and maintain posture – this is the body’s quickest neuro-muscular response, and happens in a split second, for example as a horse shies at something, or bucks. You can work on this skill by having lessons on the lunge without your stirrups on a safe horse.

Secondly, you could use the RS-tor riding security aid whenever you ride – it is easily transferred from one saddle to another. The product was designed as a safety aid to help prevent falls, or allow the rider to fall in a more controlled manner. Being reliant on a neck strap or piece of mane is probably causing you to tip forward, which is detrimental to your balance. With the RS-tor, your seat and position is not affected. Many riders of young or spooky horses rely on neck straps, however, these can be dangerous. There is lots of anecdotal evidence concerning riders grabbing a neck strap, only for it to swing around the horse’s neck, causing a fall.

The RS-tor attaches simply to the saddle, allowing the rider to hold the strap handle comfortably, like a crop handle – the rein contact is not affected and there’s no ‘fixing’ of the hands. It also facilitates riding through spooks, shies and bucks, with less chance of the rider losing their reins and their balance. Once you begin riding with one, your confidence in your ‘saddle stickability’ will increase, as will your horse’s trust in your leadership.”

 

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