Q: I have a tendency to tilt forwards and arch my back when I ride. How can I learn to sit up straighter, with a straighter back?
A: Tilting forwards and arching of the back can be related issues. Arching of the back can cause a rider to tilt forwards and make it easier for your horse to pull you out of the saddle, but similarly, both issues can and do have independent causes.
Tilting forwards on its own is often an anxiety related issue. Whenever we are nervous, it is tempting to assume the foetal position! Becoming more confident is not easy, but the more you ride in confidence building situations (on safer horses and with an instructor you trust), the better and more relaxed you will feel.
In terms of immediately combating the tilting forwards as its own issue, the best advice is to sit back on your seat bones and open up your shoulders. Opening up your shoulders opens your chest and forces you to look forwards rather than downwards.
The arching of the back is corrected by engaging your core muscles. The feeling of pulling your belly button back to your spine helps to engage your core muscles and remove the arch in the lower back. An engaged core helps your riding enormously and will naturally reduce your tilting forwards. A flat back is necessary to give you the strength and stability required for good riding.
Working on these issues both on and off your horse, will improve the problem, but nothing can replace a session with a qualified instructor, who can target the work to your particular area of need.