The term eyes up is one that most riders have heard their instructors tell them. For some reason, riders tend to look down instead of ahead to where they are going. It seems to be an instinct and a bad habit many have to correct, including myself.
I don't know exactly why I do it. I guess we might all have different reasons. I know that I've had the problem of looking down only a few feet in front of me for a long time now. Things like this can become such a habit that you may not even realise you're doing.
I think, to some degree, riders struggle with this because of how we are taught to ride. When we learn how to post on the right diagonal, we're taught to look down at the outside shoulder instead of by feel. The same goes for learning our approaches to jumps. We're taught to count our strides to the base of the jump which encourages us to look down. Now this doesn't mean that the way most of us were taught to ride is bad, it just might be the source of where our bad habits come from.
There are so many reasons why you should look up though.
The first is obvious; to know where you are going. You can't plan a smooth approach to a jump if you're not looking in front of you and you won't know about the potential scary objects your horse might spook at that are up ahead. Looking forward helps you to get organised and ready for what's coming next.
When you look down, you also lose your centre of gravity. When your head lowers, your shoulders follow and your back might round out. This moves your centre of gravity more forward than where it should be which leads to you having less balance. It will also lead to making your horse's job more difficult as he carries you along. Keeping your eyes up, keeps your head up, your shoulders back, your back straight and your centre of gravity back in the centre.
If any of you have problems with looking down, I'd suggest getting someone to watch you ride and remind you every time you do look down to look up. It will take time, but you will be able to fix it as you work on it. Do any of you have any tips and tricks on how to keep looking forward? If you do, share them in the comments below.
Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and being patient with me while I wasn't writing new posts. Many things came up around the same time that made it near impossible to sit down and write. I wanted to wait until I could take the time to write instead of just rushing and publishing something I wasn't too happy with. But there should be weekly posts from now on and one upcoming post in particular that I am excited to write and share with you (I'll share more on that in the coming weeks).
I wish you all the best with your horses and have a great weekend.
Until next time, happy riding!