The Importance of Driver Position

It’s been well over a month since I’ve had the chance to seriously spend any time driving my horses, and as I’m getting back to it, I’m finding that reminding myself of my side of the equation is the biggest challenge.

First, the more I try to fix my horse’s posture, the worse my own gets.

Second, the worse my posture gets, the worse my horse’s gets.

It’s a vicious cycle,and one that takes a conscious effort on my part to stop. Breath, center, good contact, look where I want to go and steer with my core, not my hands. And usually, like magic, both me and my horse are no longer tied in knots.

Working on a pattern or around cones also helps me – if I’m focused on driving a pattern my own posture falls into place and the horse does too. If I’m focused on trying to get my horse’s head on straight or his nose in … well, that just isn’t going to happen. It’s a side effect of good connection and balance, not a goal in and of itself.

I know this isn’t a unique issue to me – I was watching drivers at the show on the weekend turning their body to the outside of the arena, their hands both outside their body, in an effort to get their horse’s head to turn in … I know how it happens, but I also know it doesn’t work. Your horse is a mirror, the more you try to compensate, the worse it will get.

I’m off to work on the components of my dressage test … if you need me, I’ll be driving a lot of circles for the next couple weeks, getting me and my horse tuned in and connected so we’re all pointed the same direction.

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Driver Position”

  1. Just this morning I was driving Slick and thinking similar thoughts. Slick doesn’t just ‘pull’ me along in the cart, we both have to work together as a team!

  2. Hi Kendra, I’m signed up for one of your online classes but haven’t taken the time to look at it yet as I’m still building my little miniature farm here on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. And doing so I’m having a difficult time deciding what kind of footing to put in our new round pen. Should I put a ground cloth under? What are your recommendations. We won’t have more than too many horses and it will be used for lunging and other ground work. I sure appreciate your thoughts. Thank you Christy

    1. Hi Christy – I’m afraid I don’t have too much advice on a footing … my round pen is just grass, and the only downside I have for that is that I don’t use it (or very cautiously) if it’s wet to avoid slipping – not a big issue here, but might be in the pacific northwest! I think a ground cloth is probably a good idea if you’re adding a sand footing, or it will disappear on you. I suggest nothing too deep, but if you’re primarily using the round pen for straight exercise and build up gradually that probably would be okay as well.

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