For many years, the false principle of tight or gripping knees has filtered into the common riding school. It is unclear where exactly this concept comes from, as it is never outlined in school texts. The first time I heard about a gripping knee was when I started riding and older riders would tell me how their instructor made them hold a coin, leaf or some cash between the saddle and their knee throughout the lesson. If they dropped this object, a fine was imposed. Although it might have seemed like a good idea in a more militant style of teaching, it is incredibly detrimental to the rider’s seat to grip with the knees. This action not only shortens the inner thigh muscles, but also restricts the horse’s movement. In order to start to influence the horse effectively and emphatically, we need to relax our bodies above all else. Muscle tone can be gained systematically, but relaxation is much harder to achieve.
Another problem many riders face is that they feel the need to fight their saddle in order to stay in a correct position. We will discuss this in another post.