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.

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