Unless you’re a professional rider, you probably spend more time driving a car or horsebox per week, or maybe riding on public transport, than you do in the saddle. Or, of course, sitting staring at a computer screen, as you probably are right now.
There are certain little things you can practice while sitting (without taking your attention off the road, if you’re driving, of course) which might just help to improve your riding and let you maximise your time in the saddle. These are some of the things I do, please feel free to add more, or comment.
Opening the joints in the clavicle, sort of between the shoulder and the front of the neck, to allow the shoulders to relax and drop back, rather that sitting with round, tight shoulders.
Making sure you have your pelvis level and your weight evenly on both seatbones. (It’s really easy to slide into the car and forget to straighten and even up, especially on fabric seats which hold you in place as soon as you get in.)
Checking that your head is balanced on top of your neck like a billiard ball on top of a cue, and not pulling forward or tilting. (See my article on the Alexander Technique for more about this.)
Drawing yourself up (rather than slouching), as if someone is gently tugging the hair on top of your head upwards. If you work on sitting upright, you really can work your core muscles even when sitting down.
Letting your elbows hang by your sides and keeping your thumbs on top (no ‘piano hands’), which is very doable, especially with a horsebox steering wheel! I practice trying to remind my elbows that they can only work in 1 plane, forwards and backwards, and are not allowed to go outwards like chicken wings, especially in mid-air over a fence!
There are lots of great images which help with this sort of thing in Sally Swift’s Centered Riding, a book I have used for years.
Photo by Katie Mortimore