Riding Fit

Rhythm and Breathing

Learn to control and recognize changes in your horse's gait through controlling your breathing.


I have trouble keeping my gelding going at a consistent speed. What can I do to help keep him at a steady pace?


From Linda Benedic, co-writer of “Yoga for Equestrians

While you cannot control your horse's sudden bursts of energy, you can control your rhythm as a rider and how you let your seat effect your horse. To have this control, you must be able to control your breathing and, in consequence, your body.

Riding is like a dance, and rhythm is fundamental. Moving in rhythm with the horse can become simple and natural once you become capable of orchestrating rhythm through the use of your breath.

Practice your rhythmic breathing at the walk first, then move into quicker tempo’d gaits. Inhale and exhale in counts of four – breath in for four counts, then breath out for four counts. Practice this at the walk first; it seems difficult in the beginning because your focus is on yourself and the horse. Once you have it mastered at the walk, move on to the trot and canter.

Counting your breaths improves your focus as a rider and increases your sensitivity to the movements of your horse. As you build your sensitivity to the movements of your horse, you'll know how to feel if the horse gets ahead or behind you. Soon, you'll recognize when your rhythm is off and be able to appropriately bring your horse back to the rhythm you determine, as opposed to following the horse's irregularities or allowing the gait to become inconsistent.