What Think You? Biomechanics Vs. Feel

Discussions On Riding Theory

Background Statement: Riding is part biomechanics & part reacting to the horse. How much of each depends on your training philosophy.

Motion: Of the two, feel is more important.


My Thoughts
Both is best. Beezie Madden, Micheal Matz, and Micheal Jung are examples of exemplary style meeting effective riding.

Meanwhile, back in the land of us mere mortals.

Biomechanics is hugely important. It is not simply posing in a perfect position. It is knowing were to put your heels and knowing how much the position of those heels effects everything further up. Sally Swift/Centered Riding(R) & Mary Wanless/Ride With Your Mind(R) have built entire schools of thought on the application of biomechanics to riding.


We’ve all seen people who ride like cowboys (and cowgirls, cowfolk?) yet still manage to go fast &/or get to the other side of the jump. We’ve probably all had our cowboy/girl/folk moments. Correct biomechanics will improve your communicate with your horse. At the end of the day, the communication with the horse is the important part, however you achieve that.

In sum. Instinct beats analysis.


Process Notes
I’m trying a new feature for Wednesdays when I do not have any saddle seat to report.

Prior Ponderings on Equitation
[Can I Ever Get Away From Equitation?]
[Wherein I Reflect on the Questionable Utility of Equitation Theory]
[Equitation Counterpoint]
[Three Reasons I Suck At Equitation]
[Form Does Not Follow Function]
[Form Follows Function]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

3 thoughts on “What Think You? Biomechanics Vs. Feel

  1. Need to have a plan. Work through the contingencies. Know what to do when things go oddly. Having a script to ride to doesn’t mean blindly following the plan. But it provides support when you need to improvise and ride by feel.

  2. IMO, balance is No. 1. Nothing else matters if you don’t have balance and great (quick) reflexes. Some of that can be naturally inherent, but there are lot’s of different ways one can chip away at this if that has not been your gift. And I think it becomes increasingly important to do things that will help us maintain our balance and reflexes as we reach (ahem) a certain age. I know I’m guilty of giving that lip service, but need to make sure I schedule time for it daily and actually follow through. Probably one of the most memorable moments to reinforce the balance/reflex theory occurred a summer or two ago on what was then my very green, new horse. Was loping side-by-side with another horse through a large open field. Both boys were moving at a pretty good pace and getting a little … competitive? As we came to the top of a moderate crest we unexpectedly encountered a large cow and goat pen right on the edge of the field. My horse did a quick shoulder drop and shy toward the infield and my partner’s horse shadowed him. We never stopped talking and just went with it. Had we tightened up and resisted, things might have been a lot different. To me, learning to relax and follow the movement, not fight to control it, beats bio-mechanics hands down. Obviously, bio-mechanics have their place, but if you can’t stay on or you’re constantly fighting to maintain control, then it’s really a moot point.

  3. “when things go oddly.” A much better show motto than being prepared for when things go badly.

    “Balance.” Riding is the art of keeping the horse between you and the ground.

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