While I can’t remember the poem (and I don’t agree with ALWAYS looking between the horse’s ears), I do agree that the habit of looking up is certainly one that will influence riding ability.
Listed below are 10 reasons why looking up will positively influence your (or your students’) riding ability.
- To see other riders and horses
Have you ever been at a competition or riding in a crowded area and had to avoid riders who are looking down. They are probably lucky that you have been considerate enough to avoid them, but watch for long enough and they will have a collision or near collision with another rider who is looking down.
- Accuracy within the arena/ riding area
Many competitions require the horse to be ridden accurately for a higher score. As you are riding around the arena/ riding area, looking up and towards the next point and the one beyond will assist in your accuracy
- Possible danger coming from outside the arena
Looking beyond the arena is also a requirement of safe riding. This broader view could see a vehicle with a flapping tarpaulin, a pack of dogs or an out of control rider approaching the area where you ride. Knowing this in advance could prevent an accident
- To feel the energy
You shouldn’t need to look at your horse’s head to know they are going forward. This is a feel exercise and best done with you head up so you can best feel the amount of energy your horse is creating.
- To see the straightness
When you are riding with mirrors in your arena, you should regularly check your horse’s way of going, in particular straightness. Even without mirrors, you should be able to feel straightness. A quick check is to look over your right shoulder, then look over your left shoulder and you should see the same amount of rump on both sides. There is more to straightness than this simple exercise, but it is a good one to get started.
- To feel the straightness
As you develop your feel and maintain your centre of balance, you will feel if you horse is straight. You will not feel the same in the saddle on a crooked horse. This feel is developed when you are looking up
- To avoid crookedness
When you head is down, it is usually tilted in some way. This crookedness in the rider is compensated by the horse is some way,usually resulting in crookedness is some way.
- 10% of body’s weight
Your head is about 10% of your body weight. Sitting in the correct position in the saddle is not enough when you head is down and forward, putting more weight onto the horse’s forehand.
- Correct position
There are many styles of riding, and we may talk about the position of ear, shoulder, hip and heel when the rider is riding in a straight line in a classical sense.In some competitions you will be scored higher for having a correct position and I am unaware of any style of riding where looking down is the correct position of the rider.
- To minimize jumping refusals
Have you ever been to a jumping competition, particular with young/ beginner riders? Notice how many times the horse refuses in relation to the rider looking down. Many riders focus on the jump instead of beyond the jump and end up looking down as the horse approaches the jump. The simple correction of looking beyond the jump as the rider approaches will minimize jumping refusals.
Has this encouraged you to look up when you are riding?
There are many other reasons why looking up will influence your riding ability, why don’t you list them below?