Checking for Neutral Posture & stability
Photo 1. In this photo, Peggy is lightly pressing downward on the roller providing feedback of resistance to the rider's body to notice if she is in neutral posture or not. If she is in neutral she will feel solid in the saddle. If she is not she will automatically tense and brace against Peggy's downward pressure (equally opposing Peggy's force). Here, the rider found she was able to maintain her posture in neutral without effort or tension.
Feeling the tension of a "heavy horse"
Photo 2. Here the rider puts her hands forward and down, and Peggy presses downward on the roller. The rider notices that the downward force creates tension and bracing in her back, shoulders, and arms. And, additionally, if the rider closes her legs on the saddle she will totally be pulled out of balance. She has lost her neutral posture by letting go of her arms and closing her legs. If she was riding a heavy horse in this position she would counter these forces by going behind the vertical, tensing her back and thighs and lifting her chest to counter balance the forces from the horse.
Rebalancing & rechecking for stability
Photo 3. Here the rider is in neutral posture again with a slight torso rotation. She is also thinking "up" with her forearms as if she's trying to keep a pencil in the crease of her elbow joint. She is thinking "wide" through her knees instead of closing them, she is breathing into her lower back and softening in her sternum area. Now she is able to withstand the force of Peggy acting as a "heavy horse" pulling downward, and this rider is able to maintain the strength and stability of her position without using external muscular force.
When the rider's body is in neutral posture she can receive the forces of gravity, the motion from the horse and maintain her own postural stability. Only then is she free to provide rebalancing support to the horse with each stride.
Explore Peggy's book "Connect with your Horse from the Ground Up" to find descriptions of these three types of riders, and take the quiz to determine your personal postural pattern. Click on the book cover to visit the store.