Admittedly, it looks a little off-balance because we’re used to seeing saddles on horses’ backs rather than on low-withered, croup-high dining room chairs. But our apple is balanced nonetheless.
As riders we are always attempting to find our balance on horseback, whether we’re going over a fence in a jumping saddle, riding half-pass in a dressage saddle, or doing a spin in a western saddle.
On a green horse or a freshly off-the-track thoroughbred, we want to be light in the saddle. Going over a fence, we want our center of gravity to follow our horse’s center of gravity without wavering. We want our seat slightly in the direction of movement at the half-pass in order to lessen the horse’s effort in crossing his outside hind leg and to encourage the horse to move his body in the same direction as our seat bones — where he’ll be more balanced underneath us. If we shift our weight during a spin, we’ll make it difficult for the horse to keep his inside hind leg as a pivot.
Balance. It’s all about keeping your body in the saddle in a way that makes the horse’s job easier. As your riding progresses, your balance can also help the horse find his balance. As in piaffe.
While you work on your balance this autumn, don’t forget to eat the season’s delicious apples (and give some to your horse, if he likes them). My favorites are the unknown heirloom “water apples” that grow on the ancient tree by my garage and the Honeycrisp which has unseated the Macintosh as my favorite commercial variety.