How do I improve my rider balance?
There are so many things that can be done to improve rider balance, before ever getting on the horse!  Let's look at the areas of balance to improve and why.

Left and Right balance.  This is important for being able to stay in the center of gravity of you and your horse as one.  There are times where you want to add a little weight to just your right or left stirrup to balance through a turn.  To practice right and left balance, stand on your feet, making sure your feet are balanced.  You want to feel the inside and the outside of the ball of your foot and your heel.  Really feel solid on both feet.  Stand with them about the width of your stirrup when you ride.  Play with keeping your balance and shifting the weight between your feet.  Really feel keeping your body centered but heavier weight into each foot.  When you get on your horse, feel that weight on in both your feet even and then play with weighting each foot heavier.  See what happens when you shift your weight at the walk, what affect does it have on your horse?

Front and back balance.  This is important for guiding your horse and also for feeling secure.  Front to back balance is the hardest for me.  I tend to ball up and lean forward when I get nervous.  Watching the police clinic and how they ride through rowdy crowds really helped me to realize that looking up isn't just something the trainer used to yell at me all the time.  It has purpose.  Looking to where you want to go helps with your front to back balance.  Looking down throws your center of balance forward and onto your horse forehand.  It also puts you into a position where if something happens, you have a lot less control.  This one is fun to play with on the ground.  One of my favorites is pushing the shopping cart.  Lean a little bit forward with your arms out in front and the cart goes faster and faster, just like a horse that is heavy on the front end.  Then, lean a little back and try and go forward with the shopping cart, it is so much harder.  Another good one is to stand on your feet square, width of the horse apart.  Look down at the ground and lean forward.  Look up and lean forward.  Practice looking up and feel the difference when you look down and lean forward.  Play with it.

Here is a video showing how I do the front back and right left playing with my balance!  Click Here

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