HRM - How to get in touch with your Centre of Gravity (CoG)...May 22, 2021
How to get in touch with your Centre of Gravity... Watch the video or read the article.
Both yourself and your horse have what is called a centre of gravity (CoG). The CoG of an average human is around their navel. This means that if you were made of cardboard and someone stuck a pin in you at that point they would be able to spin you around easily!
It is the centre of your weight mass if you like...
Your CoG differs slightly depending on your body type, and a female’s CoG tends to be lower than a male’s due to the upper body tending to be proportionately shorter in a female with more weight tending to be carried in the hips and thighs, so, a typically shaped female with hips wider than her shoulders will naturally have a LOW CoG (which is a plus point). If she also has a large chest then that negates some of the benefits.
A typically shaped male with shoulders wider than his hips will naturally have a higher CoG (which is a disadvantage).
Make sure you also read this blog article - www.equiculture.net/blog/your-body-and-how-it-affects-your-riding
To have a low CoG is better...
The body on the left has the better scenario...
Your horse’s CoG is underneath where you sit. It used to be thought that the CoG of a horse was lower and further forward than it actually is. The picture below shows a more accurate approximation of a horse’s CoG.
This picture shows a more accurate approximation of a horse’s CoG.
Again, a horse’s CoG differs depending on their conformation (body type), so a Quarter Horse, that is typically lower in the wither (or ‘built downhill’), will naturally have a CoG that is slightly forward of this point and a dressage bred Warmblood, that is typically higher in the wither (or ‘built uphill’), will naturally have a CoG that is slightly further back.
Training will alter the CoG of a horse to some extent if that training changes the horse’s balance. So a horse that starts out ‘downhill’ (with a CoG that is forward), will end up more ‘uphill’ (with a CoG that is further back).
For most riding disciplines (other than some of the Western disciplines such as ‘cutting’), it is better for a horse to have a CoG that is further back, which means that the horse will be reducing the weight carried on the front end (the forehand) and increasing the weight carried on the hind end (the hindquarters).
If you have ever ridden a horse that has a wonderful canter, a canter that felt 'light' and 'balanced', that would have been because the horse was NOT 'on the forehand' but instead was able to 'engage' and use his or her hind end properly, something a horse can only do when they have learned to carry a rider and themselves properly.
A horse is already able to carry themselves properly of course, before a rider gets on their back, but they have to learn how to do that when they have a rider onboard. That is what good horse training is all about.
Back to the rider - good rider training teaches the rider to keep their CoG LOW and as CLOSE to the CoG of their horse as possible.
So a rider needs to:
- Sit in the correct part of the saddle - i.e. in the lowest part - not tip forwards, which puts too much weight on the horse’s forehand and makes it even more difficult for the horse to carry themselves (and their rider) properly, and not sit towards the back, which puts too much weight on the weakest part of the horse’s back.
- Keep their weight LOW and learn how to distribute their weight properly between their seat and their feet, in this way a rider ends up surrounding the CoG of their horse.
A good rider ends up surrounding the CoG of their horse...
A rider who can do this is far more secure and far easier for their horse to carry than a rider who cannot. This does not mean however that you should be 'clinging to your horse with your legs wrapped around them', far from it, it is balance that keeps you on your horse, not grip.
Surrounding the CoG of your horse is also by far the most comfortable (and safest) place to be. Think about how it feels to sit at the back of a bus (well away from the CoG of the vehicle) and how much bouncier it is, than if you sit in the middle of the vehicle (between the wheels and over the GoG).
So next time you ride your horse think about where you are sitting. Are you in the middle of the saddle, upright and balanced, with your head above your torso, your torso above your hips, with your ankles directly below your hips in a balanced upright position?
Are you in the middle of the saddle, upright and balanced, with your head above your torso, your torso above your hips, with your ankles directly below your hips in a balanced upright position?
If your horse were to disappear ‘in a puff of smoke’ would you land on your feet with your knees slightly bent (correct)...
or would you fall on your face or on your backside (incorrect)?
Remember, if you are leaning forward or backward you are not correctly balanced. You will be more difficult for your horse to carry and you will be using unnecessary energy in order to ride. This means that you will tire more quickly and you will become even more difficult for your horse to carry! A downward spiral of events…
Unfortunately, you cannot always tell by feel alone whether you are sitting upright - so ask an assistant or your instructor to tell you what they see. Failing that, ask someone to take a video of you as you ride and see for yourself if you are upright.
About this article - ''Brilliant, I've been working with a biomechanical coach, it's amazed me at my horse's different way of going, fab article thank you.'' Lesley Woolf
How can you learn more?
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Have a look at the Horse Riders Mechanic Course and iron out all those rider biomechanic problems that can really hold you back.
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