Horseback riding is all about balance for both you and your dressage horse. To ride in good balance, be sure to keep a good plumb line with your shoulders directly over your hips and over your heels.

In this article, I’ll give you two quick tips to help you sit up straight and in balance.

1. Many riders lean behind the vertical (especially in trot extensions!) because they think they’re driving their dressage horses more forward.

The problem with leaning back, however, is that you end up pushing your horse’s back down, and he becomes hollow and disconnected.

So if you tend to lean back, here’s a quick tip to give you some muscle memory for keeping your upper body straight.

While you’re standing on the ground, lean back and ask a friend to put the palm of her hand between your shoulder blades. Ask her to gently push your upper body forward until your shoulders are above your hips.

Repeat this several times. Close your eyes as you’re being pushed forward so you can really memorize the feeling of bringing your upper body over your hips.

Then when you’re riding your horse, visualize your friend is gently pushing your upper body forward so you can sit up straight.

2. Now let’s look at the opposite scenario—leaning too far forward. For this exercise, focus on your hip angles. If you’re leaning in front of the vertical, your hip angles are too closed.

So while you’re sitting on your horse in the halt or walk, lean about 10 inches behind the vertical, then sit upright so your shoulders are over your hips.

Do this several times. As you lean back, focus on how your hip angles open. You can even close your eyes to really concentrate on how it feels to open your hips.

Then when you’re riding, if you start to tip too far forward, visualize leaning back. The exercise you’ve done at the halt and walk will give you the muscle memory to find the happy medium and sit up straight.

Click here for more dressage position tips.