How to fix what your instructor wants

Do you ever assess the how of the muscles working when you’re riding.

Your trainer says “tighten your core” but what does that feel like? Do they mean brace so it’s super tight (probably not…) do they mean just engaging your abs?

What about relax your arms? Like floppy, spaghetti arms?

More leg? Like more kicking, more squeeze or something else?

One of my roles working with clients is to help them understand what all this means, how it should feel and of course how they can achieve it.

It’s often misunderstood that my job as a Strength & Conditioning Coach is just to make people stronger but it’s actually to make them better athlete’s overall. That means if someone needs to be more mobile we work on that, if someone needs to absorb movement better we work on that or if someone needs better body awareness we work on that!

If you’re thinking about your own performance and what you need to do to improve it this should be part of your plan.

What are the areas your instructor is constantly nagging you about? Ask them what correct would look like or how it would feel.

Then consider how you can try and replicate that in your off horse work.

For example I’ve often been tasked with “more leg”.

The rider misinterprets this as more strength, more kick etc. I’ll watch them ride and see that their leg is not placed optimally to give clear aids. Think thigh rolled out, heels tapping away. The rider tries more leg by squeezing the back of their legs around the horse; still nothing.

The problem isn’t lack of strength, it’s the rider not using their body as well as they could.

If we Internally rotate the thigh, that’s automatically a bigger surface area to communicate to the horse, if we turn the toes to face forward thereby pushing the heel out we’ve activated the outer hip and glute muscles to help stabilise the leg and pelvis more.

This is going to feel really hard to maintain at first so we would combine that with some off horse training focusing on improving the internal rotation of the thigh and then strengthening the glutes and outer hips to make it feel easier and be more effective when back on the horse.

Then we’d add in some control work of the inner thigh to enable the rider to dial them up and down as and when required.

Along the way we’d add in cues that the rider identifies with to use when they’re riding and tie the work off horse to the work they’re doing on horse. This then helps them to fix the problem themselves when they’re back on the horse.

If you’re working off horse give these things some thought to help you design your sessions and if you’d like some help you know where I am.

You can’t do PSG if you didn’t nail Prelim

You can’t do PSG if you didn’t nail prelim.

Sometimes the basic tuff can be the hardest to master and it can be easy to skip but it will show up somewhere down the line….

This is how I approach training riders off horse. If they don’t have a good basic squat and hip hinge pattern we don’t progress to the sexy looking stuff like heavy lifting or balance boards etc. This might mean the first few months of training feel slow and repetitive but it’s really important to master the basic movement patterns so you have a solid foundation before you start to progress to more technical movements. 

Think of it like training your horse. If your Canter transitions were a bit hit and miss at Prelim, you might get away with it in terms of overall score so you don’t really tackle the issue. However as you start to move up the levels and need to add in Canter to Walk, Walk to Canter or Flying Changes, Tempi Changes etc; that woolly Canter transition is going to come back to haunt you. It’s going to be impossible to progress unless you go back and master the first aid you need! 

So don’t be tempted to rush straight in to the fancy bells and whistles multi movement, instability training or whatever it is you’ve seen on Instagram. Start at the beginning and master your basic movement patterns really feeling the muscles working and then programme in some body awareness to help you self assess at every stage. 

Then once you’ve got this you can have some fun and up the ante’ and not only are you more likely to be able to do it, you’re also less likely to build up detrimental movement patterns or injure yourself in the process!

Nail your Prelim before you skip to PSG! 

Want some help? I’ve got a couple of spaces for 121 in person or online to help you take your first steps. 

If you’re self aware enjoy the ride

Very often clients will say to me they aren’t good enough for their horse because they can’t do xyz……

The reason they come to me is because they want to get better for their horse. Which means they at least have self awareness of what may be limiting their lack of progression. Which I’d say is more likely to achieve progression versus someone doing the same thing over and over with no awareness of how they could do something different to improve their performance. 

Very often riders who want to get better can be their own worst critics, yet those who are seeking to improve are usually doing a lot more right than wrong. 

If you’re aware that your hands are pulling back on your horses mouth, you’re more likely to stop doing it, if you’re aware you sit to the left more you’re more likely to start putting more weight to the right. 

So, if you’re aware of the things that can be improved you’re much more likely to fix them than someone who isn’t even considering there could be areas for improvement. 

 My style of training encourages people to spot patterns and to be aware of what their body is doing when it moves, that makes it a transferable skill to add to their riding. Spotting the patterns, noticing the movement so that you can begin the path of improvement.

Even professional riders will be constantly critiquing their performance and looking for areas of improvement. There will always be something that could be just a little bit better. 

Riding is a life long journey that I think pretty much no one ever actually completes! As long as you’re striving to be the best that you can be for your horse then really should just enjoy the ride!