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Riding anatomy

It is no surprise that we learn better when we know why we are doing something. 

Understanding why your heel should hang under your hip, for example, or why the horse can move more freely when their neck is lowered and stretched, gives context to otherwise baseless instruction. 

That’s why, in this week’s video, I want to give you a quick anatomy lesson…

Here’s what you will learn:

  • How the ligament system of the horse’s back supports good movement… if it is engaged
  • A simple way to visualize the relationship between you and your horse’s movements
  • Why good alignment makes riding easier
  • The most important joint for riding

Click play below for this anatomy lesson from one of my online courses. 

I’ll show how horse and rider anatomy are related, and how seeing these connections can help both you and your horse move better. 

See you in the comments! 




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27 Responses

  1. Hi callie Jeff here first love the hair 👍and Thank you for the lessons I always pick up something from you to make me a better horse man thank you for your time and love for the horse. Blessing Jeff

    1. Thank you for the compliments, Jeff! I will pass them along to Callie.😊 We’re so happy to hear our lessons have been so helpful to you.

  2. Found anatomy lecture wonderful. Learnt about Centre of gravity. Importance of not leaning back/forward or sideways. Lifting my sternum to position my shoulders properly and opening my hip joint. Great. Thanks

  3. This was very enlightening. Loved the horse anatomy analogy to the human anatomy, and the leaning sideways description! Connection between sternum and shoulders’ position now clear. Thank you Callie.

  4. Hi Callie,
    I really appreciate the lesson in horse verses humam anatomy.
    Very well demonstrated. I will be even more mindful of body position. When asking my horse to perform a difficult maneuver.
    Thank You

  5. Hi Callie
    Thanks for this video the skeletons aids help a great deal. When you are talking about balance and where your body should be how should your body be positioned going up a hill. I lean forward to keep the balance going up thee we hill. then I think that puts more weight on the horse’s front end rather than his back end to have him use his back end to power up the hill rather than pulling himself up. Do you have guidance for this situation? Thank you Marian

    1. Great question Marian!

      When you are doing hill work, you want to remain vertical in the saddle. The best way to imagine this is staying aligned with the tree trunks on a hill. For going uphill, you want to keep your weight back in the saddle and use your energy in the seat to help your horse power up the slope from his hindquarters. Exactly as you said. For downhill, you also want to keep your weight back off the horse’s forehand. You can practice this by pushing your weight off the front of your saddle. You do not want to brace or push into the stirrups, but rather direct your weight backwards from your torso.

      Hope this helps!

  6. That was totally a picture of my spine and me falling off to the left. How do I teach my body to realign? A double hip replacement has changed my awareness of my pelvis, hips and spine a lot. I am not helping my one-sided horse.

  7. Great tips!

    I am painfully aware of my hips! I am doing PT to help with the hip osteoarthritis and torn labrum I struggle with. Not yet bad enough for hip replacement and PT is def helping.

    1. Hi Mindy, I shared this above for another rider struggling with her hip movement. This is a blog on ways to improve and strengthen movement from the hips using an exercise ball. It is something you can do at home for gentle and light workouts.

  8. Great information about the rib cage and bringing your shoulders back. I have always done what you noted should not be done, that being actually moving my shoulders back. Thanks for the clarification and ALL the information you offer

    1. Nancy, thank you for reading and watching the blog! One exercise that helps me is to imagine I am gently holding an orange between my shoulder blades. You don’t want to arch your back when you do so, it’s only a slight adjustment, but it can help you align your shoulders and ribcage.

  9. I will be focusing on my hip joint. I thought opening my hips meant lateral opening of my legs. It makes so much sense to lengthen my leg to open my hips. Thank you very much!

  10. Thank you for the good visuals and the information. That is quite a crop of corn along with nice riding.

  11. This was a great video lesson. Visuals certainly help. I’m still not sure I am successful with the ribs vs shoulder back pull! Hips are a challenge for me!

    1. Linda,

      It can take some time for your body to adjust to a new position, especially in motion if you are practicing in the saddle. But stick with it and it will become easier, and eventually habit to ride in a new position.

      For your hips, an excellent warm up before you ride is to sit on an exercise ball. Move your hips forward, back, side to side. This helps open them up before you get in the saddle. My dressage instructor keeps one in the ring for this purpose.

  12. Loved this video. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought closing the hip angle meant going further into a two-point. No wonder my trainer got frustrated with me!

    1. JoAnn,
      I can understand how that direction could be confusing! Glad this video helped clarify for you.

  13. Hi Callie,
    I have a problem hopefully someone there can help me with. Quite a while ago I signed up for Wendy Murdock’s course and paid for it. I have moved from Maryland to Hawaii. All of my folders have disappeared and I have lost the course and all it’s information. Can you help?
    With gratitude for any help,
    Donna DeFrancis

  14. Hi Callie,
    Thank you for all the wonderful information you share with us. It enriches not only humans but their horses!
    Donna DeFrancis

  15. fabulous video — everything is explained so clearly – understanding makes it easier for me to execute – will be noticing my hip joints and centre of gravity. 🙂

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