Sitting Tall and Head Posture

Sitting Tall and Head Posture


All riders will have heard the instructions ‘sit tall’ and ‘lengthen your back’.  In a nutshell, if one hears these words spoken with purposeful intent, it means one’s posture has slipped into a ‘sack of spuds’ slouched position.  This will almost invariably lead to the head being projected forward and looking down.  Good head position is vital in riding for a number of reasons: the way you look for turns when jumping; knowing where your horse needs to be for position in a dressage test; being aware of your surroundings when out hacking.  


It is a biological fact that the neck will restrict rotation of the head when tilted forward.  In addition to this, the unbalanced head will make it harder to be in harmony with the horse’s movement.  The head typically weighs 10-12 pounds, and for every inch it is projected forward it adds the weight of the head again.  Therefore, if the head is projected forward 3 inches, the neck is effectively supporting up to an additional 36 pounds of weight.  This will cause tension in the neck muscles, pain, potentially headaches and it also makes the rider’s breathing far less economical.


Once again the position of the lower back and pelvis is frequently at the heart of the problem.  A slouched posture makes it impossible for the head to be carried in the proper position on top of the neck and shoulders.  A slouched posture also means the rider isn’t sitting tall on the horse and is therefore not sitting light, but sitting heavy, adversely affecting the ability of the horse to be forward-going and balanced in his paces.  


Sometimes however it isn’t entirely about the low back posture.  A large proportion of riders will work in office jobs during the week, and they will carry the forward head posture that results from that into their riding.  This can be a very difficult habit to try and counter.  Chiropractors help many people with neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches that all too frequently arise from a poor office posture.  If you are experiencing any of those problems and feel it may be affecting your riding, give Droitwich Back & Neck Clinic a call on (01905) 798226 to find out how we can help.

(Image credit Laila Kilnsmann)