Rider Position- The Difference Between The Professional Dressage Rider and The Beginner.

In Dressage and indeed all horse riding, the skill of the rider has an influence on the movements of the horse and the harmony between the two. In this study which used sensor based measurement technology to compare the riding style of highly experienced riders to that of beginner riders it was revealed that highly experienced riders:

  • had a greater range of motion in their elbow joints in sitting trot
  • had more flexed elbows during sitting trot
  • had a smaller range of motion at the knee joint

The  beginner rider:

  • tilts their trunk more forward
  • tilts their head more downwards in trot
  • moves their trunk more from left to right during the canter.

How is this useful: 

Improving a rider's awareness with regard to position goals can help to optimise a riders effectiveness in the saddle and improve the performance of the horse. Whilst the top riders appear to "just sit there" the smaller range of motion of the knee joints and greater range of motion in the elbow joints would suggest that the core is absorbing much of the energy and the arms and shoulders are moving with the horse. Beginner riders and indeed all riders, need to work on their core strength and upper body conditioning in order to improve their balance and effectiveness in the saddle thereby allowing a horse to move to it's full potential.


Eckardt F, Witte K, Kinematic analysis of the rider according to different skill levels in sitting trot and canter. J Equine Vet Sci 2016; 39:51-57