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Equitation is as much of an art as sculpture or dance. This popular aspect of horse back riding requires skill, poise, strength and precision. A good equitation rider has been a hunter or jumper for at least five years, if not more. In the show ring, the perfect equitation rider can guide a difficult horse around a large course using her legs, arms, seat, and eye, while perfectly posing like a china doll on top of the horse.

A green horse is not suitable for equitation unless the rider is a professional or semi-professional. There are eight angles that an equitation rider must be concerned about while riding: back, elbow, wrist, knees, ankles, neck, hip, and shoulder. Each of these angles must be opened and closed at the appropriate times, whether that be over the jump or on the flat. Each jump must be as identical as possible to the last, and each corner the same as the previous.

On the flat, the back angle must be slightly curved, with the butt sticking out as well as the chest, properly arched. Over the fences the back should be a straight line, not arched and not slumped over. The elbow should form a ninety degree non-moving angle on the flat, then over the jump it should collapse. The elbows should come towards the riders chest over the fence, and the hands near her chin.

The knees should always be at approximately a one-hundred-twenty degree angle, this angle should never change. The ankles as well remain the same. The toe should be as elevated as possible, and the heal as far down as possible. In order to ensure that the heel does not lift, it is occasionally necessary to concentrate on landing in the heel instead of the ball of the foot.

The chin should always be lifted and straight ahead. Through corners, a proper equitation rider will use her peripheral vision to see the approaching jump. On the flat the hips should be open, with the rider’s back straight up and down. However, over a jump, the stomach muscles should tighten, and the chest come down about four inches, closing the hip angle.

The folding up process, where most of the angles close, occurs very suddenly as the horse leaves the ground. If it is started before the horse takes off it will force him to leave prematurely. Consistency between horse and rider is one of the most important aspects of equitation, as well as hunters. If each stride, jump, and corner looks exactly the same (and good) you will win.