Applied Posture Riding - rider biomechanics explained

  • How to Control The Lower Leg Using Quads And Hamstrings

     Training The Lower Leg Before Any Other Body Part Is The Key To Good Riding!

      I believe the lower leg is the most important body part to train for stability, control, and strength in horse riders. I see and hear from many other instructors the training of the seat is the first priority. Well, I am confident to challenge this concept and train my pupils with a different process.

    DSC 0088 In this photo,  the riders' lower leg is too far forward and not solid against the horses’ side. The hamstring muscle is not engaged, and she is pushing her heel down using her quads and gastroc muscle. This is a common problem riders have. Their lower leg either swings forward or away from the horse's side. This is most obvious at the trot.

    Both the rising trot and the sitting trot create a movement that the rider cannot control.  Control of the lower leg can be gained if the rider is taught how to use the lower leg properly. The hamstrings are the key muscle to control the lower leg movement and stability.

    I know this because I am a Physiotherapist and I teach Rider Biomechanics.  The lower leg can sit solidly against the horse without putting pressure on the horse. This is another skill to learn for horse riding. Once a rider can keep the leg still the seat is the next target to train.

    The deep independent seat is the aim and end result of our rider training but the end result needs to follow certain steps before it can be achieved. Horse riding is so different from other sports because we are trying to balance, control, and direct a live animal with its own personality.

      Horse riding exercise programs need to acknowledge this. A hockey stick or a basketball will go where you direct it. A horse does not always comply. In addition, they decide to spook at imaginary things, spontaneously.

    Good balance makes for a safe confident rider and a strong stable lower leg will provide a rider with good balance and strength to support their seat body and hands. Once the seat becomes dislodged a rider will always grab the reins. The seat is less likely to become dislodged at spontaneous movements if the lower leg is solid.

    Once the lower leg is solid and the use of the hamstrings and quads is coordinated then a rider can move on to train the pelvis, lower back, and train for a deep independent seat. The seat is only independent if the lower legs, trunk, and hands can move and be used without the seat bouncing in and out of the saddle. I call these horse riding exercises…. movement patterns.. and these patterns are unique to my program.

    A movement pattern is a practiced part of a whole movement. For example, if we want to learn to walk again after a major injury the physio will break up the routine. So back to the horse rider. The hamstrings bend the knee if the hip is fixed the heel will move closer to the butt. If the heel is fixed and the hamstrings tighten the hip will move closer to the horse.  This movement is the aid to apply the lower leg and engage the seat into a deeper position. This is a difficult concept to write about and for riders to understand.

    My Applied Posture Riding Membership Program has much more detail than I can write here. The Quads straighten the knee and we all know this. If we are sitting in a chair and we decide to stand up we transfer weight from our seat to our feet. Because the ground is fixed our heels and feet stay still. Our body moves over our feet and then straightens up. There are quite a few changes in the center of gravity to get upright.

    When we stand up in the stirrups our weight transfers from our seat to our stirrups, as in the rising trot. Because the stirrups are not fixed the weight transfer will cause the stirrup to move and in every case, the lower leg will swing away from the horse's side.  To stop this when we are rising trot we need to learn a movement pattern to train the lower leg to stay at the horse's side.

    Erin and Leanne Home feb 2012 059 websizeTraining the hamstrings to bend the knee is one of the most important movement patterns in dressage riding. It is not the calf muscle! When the horse rider is sitting deep and upright and wants to apply an aid it is the hamstrings muscle that comes into play. The seat will follow. It is not the seat then the legs…It may well feel like it but if the lower leg is not engaged first the seat has nothing to stabilize.

    Very good riders do all this in a split second and appear to be doing nothing. The learner rider needs to train the individual movement patterns to be able to achieve the end result. There is a simple exercise you can do immediately on a gym ball.

    Bending your knee is different from applying your lower leg, however, the action of moving your knee is the technique to learn.Erin and Leanne Home feb 2012 062 websize

    If you want more information on this or just want some advice go to my  Applied Posture riding Membership Program.

    So If you get a wobble up in your lower leg when trotting or even at the canter then this means the use of your lower leg muscles when riding is not correct. 

    Enjoy your riding and good luck

    Annette Willson.

    Remember to look at yourself before you blame the horse.

  • How To Ride A Horse

    How To Ride A Horse is one of the most used phrases in google, as a keyword.Kulpara Show jumping 003 websize

    Horse riding is one of the most popular recreational activities on the planet, and everybody involved loves the sport, the animal, and the pleasure it brings. It is certainly one of the most popular competitive sports as well. Unfortunately, horse riding has also been listed as one of the most dangerous sports as well.

    There is a very high risk of injury and certainly a risk of death. It was reported not long ago that horses kill more people than any other animal in the world. As an experienced horse person I can believe this I have witnessed it and as a consequence.

    I teach riders to ride and achieve the best horse riding posture they can. New regulations in Australia in recent years with the need to have a PIC number and register horses like dogs has revealed an exponential number of recreational horse owners than expected. The number of horse riders riding just for fun, entertainment, and exercise is enormous.

    Over 300,000 in Queensland alone. This is why the phrase How to Ride a horse is such a used keyword. The horse riding posture is another keyword well used. Many riders turn to books, the internet youtube videos, and of course riding schools and riding instructors. The horse and rider are a team and need to be trained as a team but the individual problems each has, need to be addressed separately. The horse riding posture is a unique movement pattern and must be taught out of the saddle as well as in the saddle.

    How to ride a horse.

    How to Ride a Horse is not an easy topic to write about or video. It definitely requires one on one help as well as learning the basic physical requirements. This is where my program Applied Posture Riding is of such benefit to new riders. Horse riding exercises specifically for horse riding are a definite must to get your body into shape to ride. Many people who don’t ride and have never been on a horse think riding is easy until they hit the saddle. Even just walking for half an hour creates aches and pains in muscles riders didn’t know they had. So if you want to get into the sport of horse riding then I advise you to follow a few steps.

    The Six Most Important Steps to How To Ride a Horse.APR movement patterns

    1.  Find a mentor. Do some research on local riding schools and riding instructors? It is important to ask others about the services and people you choose. Not everyone is ethical I’m afraid. The horse riding industry is not always truth full, be aware of scammers.

    2. Watch videos and observe riders around you at, every opportunity. This is one of the methods I used to get to a very high level of competition. I watched every rider I could and I learned as much as I could just seeing what they did and how they did it. I taught myself some horse-riding exercises even as an amateur. My posture was poor and I was the only one to change it.

    3. Learn about the muscles and movement patterns used for horse riding. My Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is one of the most complete and detailed programs available. It is also a good idea to follow someone who knows HOW and can teach you.

    4. Practice riding with a friend or trail riding or under instruction as often as possible. It is amazing how this is so important. Ride many different horses (they must be safe and quiet, though). 

    5. Go to horse competitions and watch, learn, and speak to riders. Gymkhana Clare 2012 048 websizeThis is great for networking and can lead to many opportunities. One of the girls riding under me did just this.

    6. Get yourself physically fit and supple and flexible

    Join me on and LIKE my Facebook Applied Posture Riding page

    Good luck and enjoy your riding. Remember to look at yourself before you blame the horse.

    Annette Willson

    How to ride a horse does not have to be that complicated.

  • Rider and Equine Biomechanics and Physiotherapy

    Teaching Riders' to Ride and Teaching  Riders' to Train

    Teaching the rider to ride is the first step. Teaching the rider to train their horse is the next step and the training of both is endless.

    My new Applied Posture Riding 12 Month Membership Program is now online and available to riders wanting to change the way they prepare themselves for riding and training. This is a unique program designed by me (Annette Willson ) a Physiotherapist, retired elite rider, trainer, and Biomechanics Rider Coach.

    You will learn about yourself as a rider and an athlete and you will learn how to apply the fundamentals of riding with correct core function and independent isolated skills. Scroll to the bottom of this page or use this link to examine the details of the program.   

    Details Applied Posture Riding 12 Month Membership Program.

    The topic of Rider Biomechanics is evolving and becoming popular with riders and instructors. However, this topic on its own is not enough. Many riders have unmounted posture issues. These riders require professional Physiotherapy. They require retraining as well as rider training.

    An injury, age-related movement deficiencies, stiffness, weakness, and much more directly affect your posture and your riding posture. This directly affects your horse. These problems will not be fixed in the saddle. It is time to test, assess, and plan your riding posture rehab program.

    Riding "well" does not come easy to many and training a horse is more difficult than many admit!

     Have a look at the following list and I am sure you can relate to more than one problem.
    before and after APR websize

    • having poor balance when riding
    • round shoulders and a poking chin
    • arched lower back, and stiff through the spine
    • having an unstable lower leg that swings
    • having a weak core and unable to use your seat when you need it
    • balancing on the reins for security
    • bouncing at the trot and the canter 
    • tipping forward instead of sitting upright
    • getting confused with your aids and then confusing your horse
    • feeling anxious or ride defensively
    • many more

    These problems are all fixable once you know what your problems are.


    Does your coach repeat the same instructions:

    • sit up straight and lookup
    • you need more coreBiomechanical Education For Horse riders web
    • keep your leg still, stop swinging it
    • soften your hands
    • relax your back

    Your coach is not a Physiotherapist and cannot give you a rehab program.

    Does your horse:

    • drop the shoulder or lug
    • swing the quarters 
    • resist your legs
    • lean on the bit
    • rush/ sloth
    • buck/pig root

    Are these problems due to you the rider?

    Have you been affected by:

    falls 1

    • an injury affecting your posture and strength
    • back pain
    • arthritis
    • tendonitis/bursitis4870095 ruptured disk
    • children
    • a repetitive job
    • a sedentary job
    • little time

    All of these body issues directly affect your riding posture and your daily working/living posture.

    Rider Biomechanics, Physiotherapy, and Equestrian Sports Specific Rehabilitation are topics that every rider will practice to be the best rider/trainer they can be.Core hold

    Strengthening your core (Pilates) has been very popular in recent times but learning how to use your core when riding is the key to riding success.

    The key to good riding is specialized core training and Rider Specific Movement Patterns.

    • Learn HOW to use your core on demand.
    • Learn HOW to apply the correct aids symmetrically and effectively.
    • Achieve a safe effective strong balanced riding posture.
    • Know what you are doing and apply the skills in the saddle.
    • Achieve your ambition as a rider and be a better trainer to your horse.

     12 Month Applied Posture Riding Membership ProgramDSC 0050websize

    Topline Strength Training 

    In addition to training riders, I have now completed 12 months of study on Equine Biomechanics and strength training horses for better performance.

    Build topline 1web

      Casey Compare photos web This is Casey a 13yo Tb mare. This photo (left) is after 2 weeks of strength training. The basic training of long forward and low naturally is the target. (photo on the right). You can now apply this training to your horse to build a strong good looking and functional topline.



     My Credentials are as listed:

    • Physiotherapist
    • Bachelor Applied Science Physiotherapy
    • Masters Degree Physiotherapy
    • Diploma of Nutrition
    • Rider Biomechanics Assessor
    • Elite Competitor (Retired) and Horse Trainer
    • Special Focus in Horse Rider Training
    • Pilate’s Trainer and Educator
  • Training The Horse Rider To Ride, Train and Compete

    Rider Biomechanics is a growing industry.

    There is new research out all the time to prove that training your core and your riding muscles has a significant effect on your riding and on your horse.  It has been proven that unmounted, correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to be a better rider than any Pilates class or repetitive exercises you have been given by a personal trainer. You will have changes immediately and then build your skills. Once your posture has been reset you can apply this in the saddle.

    When you have established your new posture with symmetry, core strength, and function your horse will also become balanced and can enjoy being ridden. The fighting will stop and the fun will begin.

    You cannot fix your posture in the saddle, it has to be trained out of the saddle. By training your core and fixing your muscle imbalances out of the saddle you will correct your own little habitual muscle problems.

    • you will stop confusing your horse and blocking him with your asymmetry's
    • you will be able to sit upright and engage your seat effectively
    • you will be able to apply your lower leg with consistent correct aids
    • you will stop using the reins for balance and allow your horse to move forward
    • jumping will become fun and safe as you stay with your horse over fences 

    None of this will happen unless you identify your own muscle imbalances, your own weak areas, your own areas of stiffness, and your own habits. Yes, we all have habits to be reset. Injury has a huge effect on your riding as does having a baby or just having a break from riding to live your life.

    Riders need a new way of training, but it needs to be correct training. Elite riders already do this, naturally.

    Unmounted correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to use the riding muscles as an elite rider does. By training using Movement Patterns rather than exercises, you will have more efficient use of your time to gain success.   You will have changes immediately and then build your skills.

    The Core is the Basic Training For All Riders.  Dressage is the Basic Training For All Horses.

    • Do you know if you have a weak core?  Yes! Do you know how to test it? No!
    • Do you suffer from lower back pain and been told to quit riding? Yes!
    • Do you know how to train yourself for riding? No!

    Correct Testing of all your muscles and then applying the correct movement patterns is what you need. Many riders are doing floor exercises and attending classes and still not changing their riding! Why? 

    • Exercises are not enough!
    • You need to have a starting point
    • You need to know your own  muscle imbalances
    • You need to know your own areas of weakness and stiffness
    • You need to know just how dominant or one-sided you are with your posture

    You will have habits and resting posture that affects your riding.

    Do you know what they are?

    You will have micro muscle injuries due to working with horses and from your daily living activities, do you know your shoulder will be developing an inflammatory condition as you use it in a repetitive way.

    All of these problems need to be identified, self-tested, and then fixed.

    My name is Annette Wilson I am a Physiotherapist, I am a retired elite rider and Rider Biomechanics and Posture Training is my specialty. My program Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is a complete program to train the rider for riding and for a better way of living. Applied Posture Riding is all about YOU the rider. This is not a program for your horse it is all about the rider.

     Applied Posture Riding is a complete program to self-test and self-fix your riding posture.  

       Apr photo AMWThis Unique program will teach you the fundamentals of the riding posture. Most importantly how to test your muscles prior to starting, how to strengthen, train, and use your core in daily life and in the saddle. This program will teach you how to train balance and coordination. This program will teach you how to stretch and have symmetry and independent isolation of all your riding muscles and aids. The movement patterns are the secret to this program. Designed by an elite rider with musculoskeletal education.

    The rider here (left) has lost her lower leg balance. This has caused her toes to push down, her foot to slide deeper into the stirrup and her body to tilt forward. In this case, we are using a neck strap to stop the horse from being gobbed and started balance exercises out of the saddle as well as in the saddle. A gym program or a Pilates workout will get you fit, but what about riding skills and riding principles?

    Balance is an assumed skill. Do you know your balance is good?

    Balance is lost due to injury, age, stress, loss of power, reflexes, and many other physiological reasons. Many riders do not even know their balance is poor until their horse starts to react to their riding. Balance for riding is a  learned skill, it is tested with a very simple test and then trained to apply various exercises.

    Balance requires strength and synchronization of all your postural muscles. Being able to ride the canter and the sitting trot requires a good balance.

    A strong functional core, as well as a supple, flexible, pelvis, and lower back, are key skills for good balance. Riding with an independent seat is only achieved once a rider has stability through the lower leg and core and then training for good balance. Riding with an independent seat is only achieved once a rider has achieved skills in balance,  suppleness, and stability through the core and the lower leg.

    Training balance, your core, and become supple and flexible are just three of the many objectives you will achieve following my Applied Posture Riding Membership Program.

    These are essential for the injured rider as well as the weak rider.   Your posture and riding skills all start out of the saddle. Every rider has their own issues...even elite riders.  Stiffness, weakness lack of stability, injury, pain, and age-related changes all affect how we ride and all can be fixed. Your horse has to work through the same problems, so why not you.

    Now more questions. 

    1. Does your lower leg swing out when you rise trot?  This is easily fixed with a simple movement pattern.

    2. Do you drop one shoulder when you apply a canter aid? You won't once you know how to apply your core and lower leg in sync with each other.

    3. Have you been injured? The Injured rider has many more problems to address. Returning to riding after injury requires professional advice and a specific training program. You can ride again if you follow sensible advice and exercises.

    4. Have you ever suffered from a back injury or had a baby or had your shoulder ripped apart from a fall or a horse trauma? As a Physiotherapist and Horse Rider consultant, I treat and prescribe rehab exercises and support riders through their return to riding.

    Isn't It Time To Focus On You.....The Rider??

     You can train yourself to be a better rider if you know HOW.  I suggest you spend a small amount of time learning about the horse riding posture, the skills required, and then learn about you and your body. Learn how to test yourself for stiffness, weakness, balance, and independent movement patterns (in your own home) and then learn how to fix your problems...It is really quite easy!

     Progress in learning specific strength training exercises for your core, your back, and your lower leg, and your riding will improve even further. Move onto the advanced training exercises and learn how to apply your training in the saddle...The strength, balance, and symmetry you achieve will be evident in your riding skills. The outcome is your horse will break his habits of stiffness, weakness, and be able to move with suppleness and rhythm. If you are a good rider can ride any horse if you are a poor rider you will ruin every horse!.

    It is all about the riders' skills and ability to apply independently balanced limb and seat aids.

    If you have any questions contact Annette Willson. We all have the same passion. Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is unique and every rider following it has been successful.