This week I want to look at how your pelvis moves when you ride.
This has a huge impact on how you give aids and move with your horse.
Think about it, if you were asking for an aid on the left and as you shifted your seat your left hip lifted, but as you gave the same aid on the right your right hip perhaps didn’t move at all that isn’t clear communication is it?
The seat bones and pelvis are also your main communication tool. Using it effectively means you can give almost invisible aids to lengthen or shorten strides or to move left or right. Like watching a Grand Prix Dressage test, you see some tiny leg aids but very little else? That’s because they are asking with their seat.
If you have never tuned into your seat in this detail before why not spend a little time now whilst we aren’t striving for peak performance for competition etc to give it some focus. I promise you, tuning into your seat bones will make your aids way more effective and yet way more invisible-basically we are unleashing your inner dressage diva.
Again if you aren’t riding you could practice this on a gym ball, on a chair or standing up-you could probably try it sat on your sofa.
Now we haven’t got any competitions for the foreseeable future now is a great time to perhaps look at those niggly problems when you ride. Or perhaps just fine tune your skills a little by checking in with your position and straightening up any wonkiness.
Neutral spine is mentioned a lot – I definitely say it a lot when teaching. But what is it and why do we want to achieve and maintain it whilst riding?
Neutral spine is when all of the joints of the body are stacked directly on top of one another in perfect alignment. When the body is in this position it all of the stabiliser muscles, tendons and ligaments to assist the joints in absorbing force. If we are not in neutral absorbing force requires some of the stabilisers to take on more work than others. Over time this can increase tension in some muscles, weakness in others and increase risk of injury. It also makes you less effective at absorbing the movement of your horse underneath you and therefore not as effective a rider as you could be.
There is also the issue of maintaining your own balance of the most stable part of the horses back. If you are tipped forward you have more weight forward, pushing your horse more onto his forehand and therefore increasing the pressure on his front legs. If you are leaning back you are placing more weight at the back of the saddle and on the parts of the spine not supported by the rib cage. This makes it more difficult for him to engage his hind end correctly. It is therefore important for both your horses wellbeing and performance that you are striving for neutral.
How do you achieve neutral? Of course it sounds simple to say you need to line up your ear, shoulder, hip and heel. However firstly how can you tell if you are doing that with the added complication of a horse underneath you? Secondly you could have these points lined up and still have wiggly bits in between.
In Equipilates we split the body into boxes and then use visualisations and cues for “feel” in order to be able to use this system to check in with yourself whilst you are riding.
I’ve made a video to talk you through it. If you aren’t riding at the moment you can still practice this on a gym ball or a chair.
Ok, full disclosure I forgot what day it was-it’s a miracle I did all the online sessions I was booked in for! So I haven’t written a blog this week. I was going to leave it because obviously it’s not a serious omission, no one dies if it doesn’t happen but it kind of didn’t feel right. Particularly whilst many of you will have more time on your hands and therefore be eager for things to do.
So, here is something to fill some time and hopefully help to keep the Easter Egg weight at bay. This is a session I wrote for one of my 121 clients for her home workout during this time in lockdown. I’ve filmed it in the arena using a mounting block but you could use a chair, footstool, sturdy table or the sofa whatever you have access to.
I know plenty of you are still working, and hopefully still able to get to your horse.
I know my little Carriage Pony, Super D (or Douglas as his actual name!) is keeping me sane because he is such a ray of sunshine. If you haven’t seen him get over to my Instagram nicola_equestrianfitness or Facebook equestrianfitnessnicola to check him out -I’m not just biased because I’m his mum he really is cute.
Anyway, I know lots of my clients are finding they need to do a few more short bursts of exercise throughout the day just to keep them feeling alert and mobile.
So, I’ve put together a short Pilates workout you can do at home, no equipment just a bit of floor space.
Biomechanics, Posture and Performance for the Equestrian