I’m sure you’ve heard me say the phrase “stay straight on circles” or being equal left to right.
Perhaps you are aware of it on yourself or as you watch other people that there is a tilt or a shift of the ribcage in an otherwise beautiful position.
Firstly, why does it matter?
Any deviation of your weight is noticeable to your horse, if that’s a full tilt, it could be almost half your bodyweight being shifted to one side of the horse. In order to balance himself he will drift away from the side you are leaning to. For example if you are tilting left he will drift right.
This can affect everything from general straightness, circles, lateral work and of course the wear of your saddle and most importantly the muscles of your horse. Perhaps your Saddler and Horse Physio could give you a clue as to which side you sit heaviest on.
So what can you do about it?
Most importantly is becoming aware of it. If you have no idea you’re tilted then you aren’t going to make the effort to fix it. Ask a friend to video you on both reins in 3 paces, then on circles and some lateral work.
Once you’ve spotted which way you tilt you can start to notice if you do the same pattern at any other time, driving the car or sat at your desk for example.
When you get on your horse, close your elbows into your sides and notice whether they sit at exactly the same place and pressure on both sides. If you can equal them up this will be your first self-check as to whether you are level.
Whilst riding around I like to use the imagery of a pair of boards on either side of your body and you have to push them together. This will help to switch on your “side” muscles to stabilise you and keep you level.
Out of the saddle we are looking to strengthen your Oblique’s and Transverse Abdominis. These are the muscles that wrap around your waist between your pelvis and rib cage.
A great no equipment exercise is the Side Plank. This can then be changed up to Side Plank Dips or Thread the Needle (which is a rotation underneath yourself) to challenge your muscles in movement.
In the gym or with a band I like Woodchops on the Cable Machine, Kettlebell or Dumbbell Windmills or Single Arm work that requires you to stabilise the other side to stop tilting such as single overhead press or single arm kettlebell swing.
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