Dressage Rider biomechanics

This diagram explains dressage rider biomechanics in terms of a series of counter-balanced postural directions.

Our study of the posture that allows the rider to balance with the horse's movement, and bring the movement into balance, without relying on the reins, has led us to the discovery that the different parts of the rider's body must act and engage with the horse in either a forward or a backward direction.

If the blue curves on the diagram were part of a circle, rolling in the direction of the arrow, these circles would all be turning in the same direction. These blue lines represent the parts of the rider's body that engage with the horse in the direction of the longitudinal transmission (from back to front), i.e. the lower leg (5) strokes forwards on the horse's sides, the seatbones (1) follow the oscillation of the horse's spine from back to front, and the chest (3) lifts bring the thoracic spine into the same direction.

The red lines follow an opposing direction of rotation, and these represent a backwards postural engagement, which stabilise and balance the posture. The abdominals (2) engage down and back, lifting the front of the pelvis into engagement and allowing the lumbar back to stretch and relax with the movement, and the thigh (4) stretches back equally, in order to support the seat and upper body, and bring the lower leg into the right position where it can aid in a forwards direction without pushing out in front (the so-called 'chair seat').

For a more complete description of these directions, look at:

How to Ride Dressage... Real Dressage

This diagram, of course, only represents one dimension of the rider's interaction with the horse - the longitudinal one -  the rider must combine it with the correct lateral interaction in order to effectively channel the horse's energies towards postural engagement.

For a complete and totally unique guide on how to put this way of riding into practice, find out about The Gymnastic Rider eBook from HHT.

Go back to the Dressage Diagrams index page

Return from Dressage Rider Biomechanics to the Happy Horse Training homepage

The pages on HHT are so wide-ranging and interrelated that we strongly recommend you look at the site plan to find other subjects that may interest you.

New! Comments

Anything to say about this page? Leave your comment in the box below.
Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

New from HHT!

AudioRide is a series of exercises designed to listen to while you ride.

Audio descriptions guide you through each step of developing a balanced, dynamic connection with the horse through your position.

This truly innovative learning tool gives you a whole new way of being guided in your riding, in a calm, clear, step-by-step way.

Free Download! Introductory Exercise: Riding in the Now

Click here for full details

The Gymnastic Rider eBook

Now available exclusively from HHT!

A unique, comprehensive guide to practical rider biomechanics. This professionally produced eBook takes the rider through the process of developing their body in the specific way that brings the horse's movement into harmony and balance, without force and constraint. Click here for full details, and to download the 15-page introduction to the book for free.

Join the Happy Horse Training group on Facebook!

See and share topical info, news and photo's, and take part in lively discussions.

Click here to go to the HHT group (make sure you log into fb first) and then click on the 'join' button at the top of the page.

Join the Whole Horse Newsletter!

HHT's free monthly newsletter giving you wide-ranging and intelligent insights into holistic horsemanship.
Just enter your details below to join.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you the whole horse newsletter.

Free bonus on the riding position with all new subscriptions: Ten Top Tips To Instantly Improve Your Connection With Your Horse.

Click here to see back issues of The Whole Horse newsletter

Train Your Horse
The Holistic Way

How To Train A Horse Without Force is a unique guide to training horses through energetic connection and gymnastic training. Part 1 covers everything on the ground, from handling to the lungeing technique that develops strength, straightness and engagement. Comes with a free eBook supplement on Horse Trauma.
Click here for more details.

"As a student of Zen Buddhism for nearly three decades, I've often wondered when someone was going to write the book on Zen and the art of horsemanship, and I think that your emphasis on mindfulness and energy connection gets right at the heart of the matter."

- Prof. Teresa Lloyd, U.S.

Do You Have
A Horse Story
To Share On HHT?

So many people have been through wonderful experiences with horses, whether in training or otherwise. If you've made a change in a horse's life - or one has made a change in yours - tell us about it here.

Learn The Natural Barefoot Trim - The Simple Way

The Simple Seven-Step Natural Trim is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to a cutting-edge barefoot trim. Click here to find out more.

What people say about HHT:

"The riding instruction is outstanding, if instructors in the UK taught this way there would be a lot of happy riders and horses."

"The riding tuition exceeded my hopes and expectations by a long way; giving me an exciting new facet to horsemanship which is lighter. more subtle, more elegant and more meaningful. It is as if a new door has opened bringing more sunlight and air."

"My goodness - what a change has taken place in my riding. I think that I'm starting to sit 'into' the horse rather than on top of him. I felt my horse's movements in a way that has almost never happened before"

Click on Testimonials for more