Conor Mcgregor said in an interview “precision beats strength “ Obviously he was referring to MMA fighting but I think this definitely holds true for riders.
If you are quite strong then it is easy to give a really strong leg aid, but for that leg aid to be effective needs to be given and the right time and place. The same goes for any aid given when riding. A strong aid is great but it needs to be clear for it to get through.
We work on this in my classes, it’s called Proprioception or as Equipilates™️ Founder Lindsay Wilcox-Reid calls it “Equiception”. So what is this mythical thing we’re after? Proprioception is knowing where your body is in space, so Equiception is knowing exactly what your right leg or left hand are doing, what’s that right seat bone up to and where is your rib cage. It’s essentially body awareness and I think it is a huge part of good riding.
These are the things that all add up to clear aids and they are part of the elusive almost invisible aids of the top riders. We’ve never seen Charlotte give a pony club kick to get her Canter have we? Although it would give us all a giggle I’m sure! A simple look at this is perhaps giving an aid with the leg ON the girth….do you know when you’ve definitely got that right? Or inside leg outside hand at EXACTLY the same time-this is way harder than you think.
So, how do you train body awareness? I could say well “come to a class and find out…..” but I’m not that mean. The truth is we train it in lots of different ways. One of my favourites is through Yoga Flows; linking balance, movement and rotation to train your brain to be able to control parts of your body you can’t currently see with your eyes-in short if you don’t do it right you’ll fall over-tough love!
We also train it through work with props such as small balls for leg aids, bands for rein aids and on unstable surfaces such as gym balls and wobble boards-again you fall off if it’s not right!
It can be as simple as performing a move to and either asking a friend to watch or videoing yourself-something like a Superman is a nice , easy start. Do you move both the arm and leg at Exactly the same time? Are you aware if you do or don’t? What does your middle do when you move? Does it stay still or does it dip? Can you feel it doing it? Noticing is the first step to correction as you cannot correct what you can’t feel.
Have a go and let me know how you get on?