The other day, driving to the yard, I passed a woman out jogging and couldn't help noticing how terrible her posture and movement was. Firstly, I want to say, 'good for her', at least she's trying to get fit, but actually I couldn't help wondering whether she's actually doing more damage than good! It's the same with horses; if you lunge them or ride them incorrectly then they may get aerobically fit but we're also building up tension in their bodies that eventually leads to aches, pain, and worse lameness. Humans and horses, in that respect we're very similar and that's why it's so important that we teach ourselves about posture, balance and biomechanics if we want to live longer, healthier lives and for our horses to do so too!
Years ago I was lucky enough to attend a clinic with James Shaw. We spent the whole morning in an unmounted session learning about our own posture and balance and I have to say it was invaluable. So why don't more trainers do this? Maybe, when we go to a trainer for the first time, the first thing they should do is watch how we stand and walk and help make improvements if necessary. If you don't have the luxury of a trainer who is so enlightened then I really recommend going for a few sessions of the Alexander Technique.
Once you've learned about correct posture, from someone who really knows their stuff, than be mindful of it all the time whether walking, sitting or driving, especially when you are stressed. You'll be amazed how often you catch yourself with stomach collapsed, shoulders hunched and chin jutting out! And how many times do you catch yourself looking down at the ground rather than ahead whilst out walking? I bet you look down when riding too? Bringing this constant awareness to your own body so you can re-train bad habits is one of the easiest ways that you can help balance and strengthen it which in turn can only improve your riding so that you can be more of an asset to your horse.