Riding Tip Corner
Almost every rider hears these words spoken to them at some point in their riding experience. For some riders, it’s a simple reminder, however, for others, “don’t lean!” is a new concept that has yet to be learned. You’re probably wondering one of two things, “What does “leaning” mean?” or “How do I stop leaning?”. In response to the former, “leaning” in layman’s terms is simply a rider’s body moving ahead of the horse’s motion. It is most commonly seen before or over fences, especially when the rider and/or horse is anxious. For example, a rider may be nervous about riding a new horse, and this anxiety causes them to instinctively get into jumping position before the horse is actually jumping. Leaning can potentially cause behavioral issues for the horse, confidence issues for the rider, or trust issues between the two.
One way to help prevent leaning in front of or over fences is to sit a few steps before the fence. While keeping your seat lightly in the saddle, sitting as you approach the base of the fence will help you to remain in harmony with your horse and as they fold you over the fence. To elaborate, the horse and rider should be aligned in their center of balance, the rider’s hip angle should naturally close as the horse comes up to them over the fence, and the rider’s seat should go back towards the horse’s rump. With practice and over time, leaning will be less of an issue, and “don’t lean!” will be the little reminder to help you and your horse stay safe!