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Have you ever had a riding instructor tell you to “look up!” or “look or where you are going!”?

It’s good advice, as the average human head weighs 10-11 lbs and that weight, balanced at the top of your torso, will have a lot of influence on the rest of your posture and position.

In today’s video I will tell you three reasons why it is important to look up, plus what to pay attention to if you often find yourself looking down.

Hint… it’s not all about your eyes…

Hit play to watch the video below!

P.S. If you want more Solutions to Your Biggest Riding Challenges, Click Here to check out the course with Wendy Murdoch.


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64 Responses

  1. Love all of this, especially the phrase about your sternum floating forward…great description! I often try to think more about eyes ahead than eyes up–I find some students get confused and actually sart to look skywards. 🙂

  2. I noticed that the rhythm of my breathing altered when I made the different positions with my head.

  3. I still struggle at times with remembering to “look up.” I can’t wait to try the breathing exercise described when I ride tomorrow.
    Thank you for your weekly videos. I have found them tremendously helpful and encouraging.

  4. Am I the only one having trouble hearing this video? The intro music comes in loud and clear, then when Callie starts talking it is very garbled and soft.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I had just never had problems with this site before and it was an odd thing that I could hear the intro and nothing else. Ended up restarting my computer and everything worked itself out!

        1. That is really odd Cheryl! Glad you were able to watch it 🙂

          -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Hi Callie – this has to be one of the most helpful issues to address. Thanks for being so thorough in discussing the various impacts on the body as indeed it surely impacts much of our body. Spending hours riding alone it becomes a habit to look down at the ground surface and horse rather than out and around. I have just returned to taking training and as he says – FEEL what the horse is doing – quicker than seeing and actually so much more safe and effective.

    1. Lavinia, I can greatly relate to this as I have ridden by myself for years! It is much safer to look up – as someone else wrote in another comment the horse will still be there!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  6. If you could explain while you are moving along with the horse it would be a good kinesthic help as opposed to standing and talking about it.

    1. Janet, we’ve included some video overlay to demonstrate the error of looking down or looking ‘too’ far up!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  7. As a beginner rider, I found the advice re expanding my chest was so helpful, and had an immediate effect on my seat and legs. I try to keep this in mind all the time now, and if I feel I’m tensing, I refocus on relaxing and breathing better. It’s interesting how such small movements can have such a big effect!

    1. Kari, we’ll be talking about Soft Vs Hard Eyes next week – make sure you are subscribed to updates on new blog posts!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  8. When I moved my head I could feel the slight shift of weight to the side i looked. Makes you aware of what the horse feels with such small movements from the rider! thank you!

  9. That was an excellent explanation. Thank you Callie. I have had trouble with my posture and looking down both on and off the horse. I am looking forward to implementing your suggestions.

  10. Thank you! A wonderful and clear explanation/visualization to use when riding & to practice when off the horse. I plan to listen to this multiple times!

  11. What a timely video. In recent weeks my instructor noticed that I was looking up a bit too much. She mentioned that since I am deafened and short I have developed a habit of looking up at people to lip/face read. By lowing my chin just an inch or so it centered me also taking the tension out of the back of my neck. The improvement in my riding and connection with my horse was immediately noticeable. It did in fact also make it easier to ride with soft eyes.

    1. Linda, glad to hear you were able to feel the difference in this small shift! 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. I was doing this on Tuesday at Yoga (my riding instructor advised to attend Yoga as gives you a great posture) it sure works and to keep your head up and spine/pelvis centred! Now after watching your video all makes sense. thank you 🙂

    1. Susan, yoga is great ‘cross training’ for riding!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. Thank you, it is so easy to look down but I will try harder to keep the head up without being stiff.

  14. This was really useful. I did the exercises seated and noticed weight change in my seatbones as I turned my head. This will clearly affect my turns! Thank you

    1. Yes! This will absolutely help with steering and turning 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  15. My trainer did work on this wth me today. It is almost ironic that this video came at such an opportune time. It has reinforced with me in a different way the importance of head carriage an looking where the horse is looking. A great video, thank you.

  16. With each video I watch, I learn so much. I was surprised while in my chair watching the weight changes with the tilt of my head. I also have learned to keep a neutral hip while in the saddle, which helps keep my posture. Thank you for your tips, look forward to the next video.

  17. My riding instructor is going to have to change our next lesson. What I now know I need help on is learning to breathe (I was brought up to hold my stomach in and breathe from my upper chest) and my posture, to change it from “rigid” Saddle Seat to more balanced and soft. Oh, boy. This old dog will be learning new tricks.
    Thank you so much!!

  18. Thank you, I love to hear all your advice. I was riding yesterday and was looking around just enjoying my time with Boz. I felt like we rode the best when I was looking forward and turning him to go a different directions. This does work!

    1. Awesome, really glad to hear you had a great ride Peggy 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  19. Thanks for covering this topic. I look forward to next week. After many years of jumping and always looking ahead to the next jump, I’m focusing on dressage and having a terrible time of NOT turning my head in the direction I want to go. My trainer wants the turns to come from my seat and torso, with my eyes glued between the horse’s ears, no head turning. Such a different way of riding! Any tips you can work into the coming videos on this topic would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Julie, you will really enjoy next week’s video – think it will be very helpful with you softening your eyes 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. Excellent timing once again! I have been concentrating on this with my horse & what a difference . Thanks again for these videos that help so much!

  21. Hi Callie, I do struggle with this issue and constantly tell myself eyes forward, chin down and back so I am not doing the crow magna man look 🙂 It sure does help the posture and releaves the tension in the shoulder’s. Thanks again

  22. I love this video and look forward to the next one. It has always seemed like nothing short of a miracle that head movement and eye direction could have such an impact on our horses as we ride. It makes perfect sense but we are so far removed from this type of sensitivity that it is often hard to wrap our brains around it. I had to show my husband the part of the video where the horse turned just because of your head position, as I always talk to him about all the little things a horse picks up on that we don’t even notice we are doing and he doesn’t have much of a clue. The more I learn the more I realize how much MORE there is to learn. And at 65 I get frustrated with wishing I had known more sooner!

    1. Hindsight is always 20/20! Just know that you are on the right path and hungry to keep learning more 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  23. I love that your trainings are helping me to better understand Sally Swift’s book in centered riding. Her book is an academic method of learning body awareness. I sense the enrichment it offers, but have a hard time breaking it down. You break it down in a way my brain can grasp. Thank you for doing the teaching you do!

    And I’m always trying to pull my shoulder blades back and down. I’m excited to find a way achieve better posture without ending up straining. I’m currently finding myself tighten and leaning forward on one of my horses more than the other. Breathing how you describe will probably help me a great deal on him. Thanks!!

    1. Glad you are enjoying the videos Catherine! Try to think about sliding your shoulder blade down your ribcage – that might help you do it with less strain!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  24. I learned long ago in a motorcycle class that your balance will follow your focus. With an inanimate object under you it’s very obvious how it affects balance. But I always try to remember that it also affects the horse under me and I can feel how unsettled my horse feels when she is trying to keep her balance under me when my gaze goes down.

      1. What a great blog. I got a good laugh out of Mathias Weiss’ post. I was laughing out loud at work.
        Did Callie take the motorcycle class? Is she still riding?

        1. Shanna, I’m not sure if she took the class but she definitely still rides her motorcycle!

          – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  25. I loved the video. Never thought my head would make a difference in the balance of the horse. I will certainly use this information when riding. Thanks

    1. Glad you enjoyed the video Bernadette! It is amazing what just one small shift can change!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  26. Humm…just like with the can raise the head but if the body is not involved or posture is not addressed then the head position cannot be maintained (with out force or holding).

    Also been realising lately that if I don’t do the work on my own body..but expect the horse too…not fair at all
    Thanks for the reminder

  27. Thank you for the explanation! I now understand WHY to keep your head up & look in the direction you want to go! Great talk

    1. Hopefully these tips will help solidify this for you Joanne!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  28. My last horse was very spooky, and I quickly learned that if MY eyes went to something that might spook him, he would invariably spook at it, but if I purposely looked in the opposite direction when we approached something that might be spooky to him, he generally would NOT spook at it. It was as if HE was following where MY attention was, as he felt my focus from the change in my weight distribution. He taught me very effectively how important looking ahead was. He was in fact a wonderful teacher and I miss him terribly, but my new horse is also that sensitive, so she is teaching me a lot of other things, as well.

    1. Kathy, this is a great point to bring up! If you are worrying about it they might feel your tension and think there is something they should be worried about well well! They are the best teachers 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. This was a helpful reminder. When concentrating on too many things, my habit is to look down at the neck of my horse and then my trainer will remind me. As soon as I correct it, of course, everything flows better and my horse seems to understand me better. Love your videos!!


  30. Such a great topic that is rarely addressed…other than eyes up. You explained it wonderfully. And how these seemingly ‘little’ things are so important. In reality they just aren’t little things.

  31. As always your weekly video is full of such help and what I love about them is how you explain things in laymens terms so that it’s so easy to understand.
    It’s the little things you discuss and explain like “eyes up” that makes your videos do interesting and informative.
    Thank you

  32. Great post. I have become more and more aware recently of how we as riders exert such a powerful influence over our horse’s balance and direction with every bit of our bodies. A fun exercise to do is to keep your reins loose and see how you can guide with your intention, look in the direction you want to go, shape the direction with your torso, hips and thighs. This has been a real eye opener for me! I can think back to rides in the past when I thought the horse I rode was ignoring what I wanted. But now I think the body mechanics were just not clear enough to my horse! My apologies to them! 🙂

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