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What Is The Importance Of Looking Up With Horseback Riding?

Did you know your head weighs 10-11 lbs? When you look down while riding, this weight goes on your horses front legs. As you look down your body leans forward putting more weight on your horses front end. This in turn causes a horse to slow down or try to keep stopping as you are putting them off balance. They also don't know where you want to go.
A horse can feel everything that’s why it flicks its skin to a fly. So when you look down the horse feels you are off balance and doesn’t understand where you want to go. I see many people stare at the horses head then kick them to go forward. The answer is not to kick but to look where you want to go and the horse will follow. 
When you look where you want to go the horse feels your focus and will try to go that direction which makes steering much easier. They also move forward easier as your weight is balanced and not on their front end. 
To help yourself look up, pick things in the direction you want to go, and stare at it. A tree, a trail ahead, or letters in the arena. Look ahead of your circle before turning. Try steering less and looking more where you want to go and see how your horse responds. You will be surprised at the effort they put forth.
Looking ahead also has other benefits. In the arena other people will know where you are going. I can’t tell you how many times other riders have run into other riders all because they are looking down and don’t see the other rider coming. 
Looking ahead on the trail will help you prepare your horse for obstacles such as trees, holes and rocks. If you don’t steer sooner or later your horse will step in a hole and trip
Or fall down. I know, You think they will avoid a hole but they don't see like we do. It also will help you to avoid tree branches.
You will see the bikers coming and get off the trail to help them pass or it will give you time to give your horse a job to keep him busy as the bike passes. 
Looking ahead will help guide your horse to the next jump and help with your accuracy of the jump departure. 
It will help keep the rhythm of the gait, trot or canter as instead of staring at their head, you are focusing on the feel of the gait. 
There are so many benefits of looking up, yet most riders, even trainers stare at their horses’ head. 
Best of all you look like a better rider, when you look up. It looks like you know what your doing and will give your horse confidence if he feels you are focused instead of out to lunch. 
Also because your looking up and sitting up tall you will look thinner and if that’s not a good reason, I don’t know what is!!
Remember to always look up with riding. Your horse will thank you for It. 

Gaye DeRusso
Published on 25-07-2019
Gaye is a lifelong equestrian of varying disciplines, Gaye DeRusso moved from her home on the east coast and moved to the west coast in 2000. She previously had shown and trained in the Hunter/Jumper Discipline before going back to school to become an Orthopedic Physician Assistant. She became interested in Gaited horses after moving to California and realizing how spectacular they were to ride on the trail. With their calm temperaments and smooth gaits, they won her over. She enjoys helping others to improve their horse's gaits and also teaches Gaited horses to canter. She is a great problem solver and has a unique ability to convey knowledge to others.