How many times have you been told not to look down at your horse but to look with soft eyes to where you are going? A lot. Books write about it; trainers yell at us about it; we hear it from every magazine article and video.
Well, I’m here to give a different perspective. The argument is that looking down encourages us to round our back and loose our balance. Maybe in some cases that is true, but today confirmed what I’ve found in the past….Looking down can help us center ourselves. I had gotten out of the habit of looking down and was quite practiced at looking up, but it had gotten me only so far. Today I was so frustrated at being crooked, I stopped looking to where I was going and looked down with soft eyes at his withers. It helped me keep my hands steady and aided in getting contact. I could feel my seat bones better, and I used my core better because I could focus on my body movement as I posted. I was just doing a 20-meter circle, so it wasn’t hard to not crash into a wall.
My lesson ended great. We actually got a round circle into contact, and then did some straight leg yields. So, while I don’t plan to always look down, for now it is helping me look ahead to better riding.