Test and Improve Your Rider Symmetry with These 5 Exercises


Whether you’re an experienced equestrian or just getting started, finding and maintaining rider symmetry is crucial for a balanced and controlled ride. Unfortunately, many riders aren’t aware of their own imbalances and it can negatively affect their overall performance. But don’t worry, there are exercises you can do to improve!

One of the main reasons for rider asymmetry is the natural variation in our bodies. Our left and right sides aren’t always perfectly evenly matched, which can lead to subtle differences in motion and posture. This is especially true in the saddle, where we often rely on one side more than the other.

One exercise to test your symmetry is the “backline check”. Begin by sitting straight in the saddle with your reins in a controlled position. Close your eyes and focus on how your body feels. Are you slouched to one side or leaning forwards? Take note of any imbalances you feel. This exercise will help you become aware of areas that need improvement.

Another exercise that will help improve your symmetry is the “bone to bone checklist”. This exercise involves working on your hip, knee, and ankle alignment. Begin by pushing your weight evenly through both seat bones and bring your leg position towards the front of the saddle. Check that your chin is lifted, your shoulder blades are back and down, and that your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel are aligned. This exercise will help you strengthen your core and improve your overall posture.

If you’re looking for even more exercises to improve symmetry, you can try using equicizers. Equicizers are mechanical horses that simulate the motion of a horse. This allows riders to work on engagement and overall seat security without being mounted. They can be a helpful tool for equestrians of all levels.

In addition to exercises, incorporating stretches into your routine can also be beneficial for improving rider symmetry. Stretches that focus on the hips, shoulders, and lower back can help release tension and allow for better range of motion. Some helpful stretches include the “cross-body arm stretch” and the “trunk rotation stretch”. These stretches will help loosen tight muscles and improve your flexibility in the saddle.

Remember, rider symmetry is an ongoing process, and it’s important to regularly check in with your body and make adjustments as needed. By focusing on these exercises and stretches, you can improve your overall riding ability and prevent collapse or gripping in the saddle. So, start incorporating these exercises into your next riding session and see the difference it makes!

Improve Rider Symmetry: 5 Exercises for Slouched Shoulders

Slouched shoulders are a common issue for riders, but they can be improved with targeted exercises. By working on these exercises, you can finally correct your posture and maintain a balanced and natural position in the saddle. Here are five exercises that can help you in improving your rider symmetry and specifically address slouched shoulders:

1. Shoulder Rolls

Start by sitting upright on a chair or equicizer, with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down, creating a circular motion. This exercise helps in relaxing the muscles and keeps your shoulders in the correct position.

2. Postural Reaching

While riding, work on reaching your arms forward and pushing them away from your body. Keep your hands and wrists relaxed and avoid gripping the reins too tightly. This exercise helps in strengthening the muscles that support your posture and keeps your shoulders from collapsing.

3. Raised Pommel

Using an equicizer or a horse with raised pommel, practice riding with your hands on the handles or pommel. This variation helps in correcting shoulder alignment and building core strength. By keeping your hands above the withers, you can maintain an upright and balanced position in the saddle.

4. Belly Across Ribcage

A common tendency for riders with slouched shoulders is to lean forward. To correct this, focus on keeping your belly button across your ribcage and your spine neutral. This exercise helps in improving your postural control and reduces the risk of injury.

5. Poles as Targets

Set up ground poles and ride over them while keeping your attention on a target in the distance. This exercise helps in improving your rider symmetry by keeping your focus away from your posture and onto the path ahead. By staying aware and in control, you can prevent your shoulders from collapsing and maintain proper alignment.

Remember to always consult a qualified instructor or coach when performing these exercises to ensure they are done correctly. By incorporating these exercises into your riding routine, you can improve your rider symmetry, strengthen the muscles needed for good posture, and enjoy a more secure and balanced seat in the saddle.

Importance of Symmetry in Riding

When it comes to someone perfecting their riding, symmetry is key. Core balance is essential for a rider to be able to stay in control and have a strong and secure position. Just as our bodies have different parts, each part of a rider’s body can be challenged and need improvement. From the top of our head (chin up), down to our toes, each part plays a role in achieving perfect balance.

One of the most important parts to focus on is the rider’s core. The core is the center of our balance and strength. If our core is weak or not properly engaged, it can throw off our balance and cause us to lean too far forward or backward. This is where the five exercises in this article come into play. They are designed to strengthen the core and help riders find their postural balance.

Another key area that needs attention is the rider’s hand position and grip on the reins. Holding the reins correctly and having a nice soft grip allows for better communication with the horse, as well as improved balance and security. Once the rider’s core and hand position have been improved, they can then begin to focus on other areas like their leg position.

The rider’s legs play a crucial role in balancing and supporting the rider’s body. By reaching down and lengthening the thigh muscles, a rider can create a strong and controlled leg position. This will help prevent the rider from gripping with their knees, which can throw off their balance and cause them to lose security in the saddle.

In addition to focusing on the core and leg position, riders can also benefit from practicing yoga to improve their symmetry. Yoga poses can help stretch and strengthen the muscles that are often overlooked in riding, such as the triceps and backline. By using yoga as a guide, riders can work on finding balance and achieving a more aligned and symmetrical position on the horse.

Overall, symmetry in riding is essential for a rider to be able to effectively communicate with their horse and maintain a strong and secure position. By focusing on the core, hand position, leg position, and practicing yoga, riders can work towards improving their symmetry and becoming better riders.

Understanding Slouched Shoulders


Slouched shoulders are a common problem among riders, affecting both their position and their horse’s overall performance. When the shoulders are rounded and slumped forward, it can throw off the rider’s balance and communication with the horse.

Slouched shoulders are often caused by a weak core and a lack of awareness in maintaining an upright position. This can be especially challenging for riders, as they are constantly switching between different disciplines and exercises that require core strength.

One of the key problems with slouched shoulders is that it results in a downward collapse of the rider’s chest and upper body. This not only affects the rider’s balance and stability but also limits their range of motion and power in the saddle.

When the shoulders are slouched, the rider’s weight tends to be unevenly distributed on both sides of the horse. This can put excessive pressure on the horse’s withers and make it difficult for the rider to communicate effectively with their horse.

To correct slouched shoulders, riders should focus on building core strength and improving their posture. Regular stretching exercises that target the chest, shoulder, and back muscles can help open up the front of the body and counteract the natural tendency to collapse forward.

One handy exercise is to imagine holding a tray with glasses of water on it. By lifting the chest and keeping the shoulders back and down, riders can find a more balanced and upright position. Another exercise is to imagine a string attached to the top of the head, gently pulling the body upward.

It’s not just about rider position, though. Slouched shoulders can also affect the horse’s way of going. When the rider is slouched, the horse is likely to drop its own shoulder and drift to one side, making it difficult to ride straight lines, corners, or even maintain a good showjumping position.

To check if your shoulders are slouched during riding, you can try using a checklist of body parts and their alignment. Are your shoulders directly over your hips? Is your spine straight, with the natural curves in place? Are your buttocks working to keep you in an upright position?

Remember that finding a correct position is not just about the shoulder itself but also about the muscles and bones surrounding it. By gradually building up strength and developing proper alignment, you can master the art of riding with straightened shoulders.

So, whether you’re an equestrian or just someone looking to improve your posture, understanding and addressing slouched shoulders is important for your overall well-being and performance. Welcome to the world of improved biomechanics and powerful riding!

Exercise 1: Shoulder Blade Squeezes

One area that many riders struggle with is maintaining proper alignment in the shoulders. This can lead to a host of issues, including a collapsed backline, slouched posture, and even injury. However, with the help of some targeted exercises, you can improve your rider symmetry and engage your shoulders correctly.

The first exercise on our list is known as shoulder blade squeezes. This exercise is handy for equestrian riders of all disciplines, as it helps to tone the triceps and engage the core while improving shoulder mobility.

To perform shoulder blade squeezes:

  1. Start by sitting on a chair or a saddle, with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Hold a small exercise ball or a whip in both hands, with your palms facing upwards.
  3. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle and lift the ball or whip up to shoulder height.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you push the ball or whip outward and then bring it back in.
  5. Repeat this motion for 10-15 reps, focusing on keeping your shoulders down and engaged.

By regularly practicing this exercise, you can improve your shoulder blade control, strengthen the muscles in your back and shoulders, and ensure that your upper body stays aligned and engaged while riding. Remember to maintain proper posture and engage your core throughout the exercise.

Exercise 2: Wall Angels

This exercise is an excellent way to improve rider symmetry and strengthen the core muscles. All you need is a wall.

To start, stand with your back against the wall and your feet about hip-width apart. Press your buttocks, shoulders, and head against the wall to align your body. Make sure your chin is slightly tucked in and your ribcage is lifted.

Place your hands on the wall at the height of your shoulders, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your arms parallel and your palms facing forward.

The goal of this exercise is to slide your arms up and down the wall while maintaining proper positioning and engaging the core. Start by pressing your arms against the wall, then slowly slide them up as far as possible without losing the alignment of your head, shoulders, and ribcage.

As you slide your arms up, focus on keeping your shoulder blades down and your chest open. Avoid the tendency to lift your shoulders or allow your ribcage to jut forward.

Take your time, and repeat this movement for about five to ten repetitions. Pay attention to how it feels and whether you notice any differences between your left and right sides.

This exercise works the muscles in your upper back and shoulders, which are essential for good rider symmetry. It also helps to improve posture, balance, and body awareness.

When done correctly, Wall Angels can be a great tool for riders of all disciplines, whether you’re into dressage, jumping, or events. The exercise can be done at home, at the gym, or even while sitting on an equicizer or a yoga ball.

Heather Sansom, a fitness expert and the creator of the Equifitt program, recommends doing Wall Angels during your warm-up routine before riding. This exercise helps to activate the muscles needed for proper riding position and can also serve as a self-assessment tool to identify any imbalances or areas that need improvement.

Remember to stay focused and avoid slouching or gripping with your thighs. Keep your core engaged, and use your breath to help you relax and expand your ribcage.

If you’re having trouble with this exercise or if you’re feeling any pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a qualified instructor or trainer. They can guide you on proper positioning and provide tips for improvement.

By incorporating exercises like Wall Angels into your fitness routine, you can improve your rider symmetry and reduce the risk of injury. So give it a try today and see how this exercise can benefit your riding!

Exercise 3: Plank with Hand Reach

The plank with hand reach is a great exercise for equestrians looking to improve their rider symmetry and overall strength. This exercise focuses on core stability and upper body strength, which are essential for keeping a balanced and controlled position while riding.

To perform this exercise, start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to toe. Hold this position for a few seconds to allow your body to engage its core muscles.

Once in the plank position, gradually lift one hand off the ground and reach it straight out in front of you, keeping your hips and belly button facing the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower your hand back down to the plank position. Repeat this movement with the other hand.

It’s important to keep your body stable and aligned throughout the exercise. Avoid any twisting or rotating of your hips or shoulders. Your goal is to maintain a straight line from head to toe, and to avoid any excess movement that could throw off your balance.

This exercise is a good test of your rider symmetry, as it requires you to maintain a controlled and balanced position while reaching out with one hand. It also helps improve your upper body strength, which is important for communicating with your horse and maintaining a powerful seat.

Experts recommend practicing this exercise in an arena or fenced area, as it can be difficult to maintain proper positioning in an open space. By using a fence or arena wall as a reference point, you can ensure that you are keeping yourself in a straight line and not allowing your body to drift off course.

Overall, the plank with hand reach is a useful exercise for equestrians who want to improve their rider symmetry and overall strength. By incorporating this exercise into your routine, you can work towards a more balanced and controlled position in the saddle, allowing you to communicate effectively with your horse and perform at your best.

Exercise 4: Resistance Band Rows


This exercise takes the resistance band exercises to the next level by incorporating rows. It can be especially helpful for equestrians who are trying to improve their rider symmetry.

Begin by securely anchoring the resistance band behind you at about chest height. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and your belly pulled in. Hold the resistance band handles with your palms facing each other, keeping your shoulders relaxed and down.

To perform the exercise, engage your core and push your shoulder blades down and back. Pull the resistance band handles towards you, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep your elbows close to your body and don’t let your shoulders shrug or slip forward. Focus on maintaining proper alignment and positioning of your upper body, keeping your withers up and your torso upright.

As you row, avoid leaning back or having your lower back excessively arch. Keep your back straight and strong, allowing your core muscles to assist in the movement. By using controlled movements and correct positioning, you will engage the muscles in your back, shoulders, and core, all of which are essential for a balanced and powerful riding posture.

It’s important to note that this exercise is not only about strength but also about postural balance. Maintaining correct alignment and positioning will help you find and stay in the correct posture, which is crucial for the rider’s balance and overall riding performance.

If you’re new to resistance band exercises or have any concerns about your form, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from an expert or fitness professional. They can help you ensure you’re performing the exercises correctly, reducing the risk of injury and maximizing the benefits.

Resistance band rows can be practiced on the ground or mounted on an Equicizer, a mechanical horse simulator used by equestrians to simulate riding movements in a controlled environment. This variation allows riders to mimic the movements of riding a horse, including correct engagement of the core and muscle groups.

When practicing resistance band rows, pay attention to your foot position as well. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, distributing your weight evenly across your feet. This will help you maintain balance and stability throughout the exercise.

These resistance band rows are just one of the five exercises that can help you test and improve your rider symmetry. Adding them to your training routine will contribute to better postural alignment, core engagement, and overall riding performance.


What is the Equicizer?

The Equicizer is a specially designed exercise machine that simulates the movement of a horse. It is used by equestrians to improve their riding skills and fitness.

How can the Equicizer help improve rider symmetry?

The Equicizer can help improve rider symmetry by allowing riders to practice their balance and coordination on a simulated horse. By riding the Equicizer and performing various exercises, riders can become more aware of any imbalances or asymmetries in their body and work to correct them.

What are some exercises that can be done on the Equicizer?

There are several exercises that can be done on the Equicizer to improve rider symmetry. Some examples include riding with one hand, riding without stirrups, and performing lateral flexion exercises.

How often should I use the Equicizer?

The frequency of using the Equicizer can vary depending on your goals and schedule. However, it is generally recommended to use the Equicizer at least a few times a week to see noticeable improvements in rider symmetry.

Can the Equicizer be used by beginners?

Yes, the Equicizer can be used by riders of all levels, including beginners. It is a great tool for beginners to develop their balance and coordination before getting on a real horse. However, it is recommended to receive proper instruction or guidance when using the Equicizer for the first time.

What is the Equicizer Equestrian Exercise Page?

The Equicizer Equestrian Exercise Page is a website that provides exercise tips and techniques created by equestrian fitness expert Heather Sansom using the Equicizer, which is a mechanical horse simulator.

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