When I asked riders what their biggest riding bad habit was, tipping forward was a common answer.
It’s a big one because there can be lot’s of reasons we do this.
- Nerves. When we are scared or nervous our body tries to feel safe by returning to the foetal position; hence it tries to curl up.
- Expecting bad behaviour-rearing for example. There may be some nerves linked to this too, but not necessarily. There are plenty of fearless riders who spend a lot of time riding flighty horses so they naturally sit a little hunched in a sort of defensive position.
- Lack of stability. This can be two fold. If you lack strength through the middle it’s going to be difficult to sit up on a horse. Also, if you lack stability in your hips/pelvis again like the nerves your body tries to retreat to a position of safety-leaning forward.
Firstly, let’s deal with a quick checklist of how to set yourself up to sit up straight.
- Have your seat bones pointing directly down as if plugging into the saddle.
- Check your pelvis is level.
- Imagine you have 4 corners of your pelvis and slot the 4 corners of your rib cage directly on top.
- Float your head directly on top.
If you struggle with nerves and it causes you to tip forward, focusing on your breathing can both help to calm you down and help you to uncurl.
- Breathe in, fill your belly so it pushes out, breathe out, push the air out and draw your abdominals in. This deep belly breathing activates your diaphragm. This both calms you down and creates stability in your core at the same time-cool huh!
If you tip forward because you lack stability……..well I think you know the answer! You’re going to have to get stronger! Creating stability in your seat and middle requires strengthening your Glutes, your Hip flexors and your Abdominals and Lower back.
- If you’re a gym bunny that could mean adding Deadlifts and/or Front Squats to your routine.
- Not a Gym Bunny? A Pilates class that includes Squats, Bridges all the hip work plus the regular core stuff you get with Pilates. Little hint-my online programme has all of this….. https://www.equestrianfitness.co.uk/online-classes/
If you want some more in depth help, myself and Veterinary Physio Steph Morgan are running our April Challenge in which I’m focusing on helping you deal with your tipping forward problems alongside Steph providing structured strength and conditioning for your horse. She is adding in a focus of different training strategies that would be helpful for different breeds and types of horses. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in head over to our Facebook page for full details. https://www.facebook.com/110251518143961/posts/149872854181827/?d=n