When we talk about rider biomechanics we talk about being in neutral. You will move in and out of it slightly as you move with the horse but it should always be your set point.
Is it because it looks nice? Is it tradition as so many things are with riding?
Actually, there are proper legitimate reasons for riding in neutral. When I refer to Neutral I don’t just mean the Pelvis.
Neutral refers to all of the joints of the spine stacked directly on top of one another in perfect alignment, with relaxed, moveable joints in the limbs.
This enables them to absorb movement more effectively which means you will sit much stiller with more stability. This enables you to move with your horse and give clearer aids.
It also means you are completely in line with the pull of gravity. Creating just one line of pull for gravity to act on as opposed to being out of alignment means there is less chance of gravity getting the better of you!
Neatly stacked joints also avoids putting extra strain on the supporting ligaments, tendons and stabiliser muscles as they do not have to fight to keep joints safe if they are already aligned. This therefore helps to prevent injury through strain or pulling of those ligaments, tendons and muscles.
So, how do you apply this to your riding?
Here are a couple of tips to get you thinking neutral.
Imagine stacking yourself up in boxes. Your pelvis is one box, your rib cage another and then your head the top. Your aim is to stack all of the boxes directly on top of one another.
Starting with your Pelvis. Have your Seat bones pointing directly down as if you could plug yourself in to the saddle. With your Pelvis level then imagine there are 4 corners to your pelvis and rib cage with dowels on like flat pack furniture and slot them together so your rib cage is directly over your pelvis. Then sit your head directly over your spine with your ears in line with your shoulders.
As mentioned, Neutral is not a rigid position, you will move gently in and out of it as you move with your horse but you continue to pass through it each time as your central point.
If this is new to you just give the stacking up process a try and see how it feels!
Think of it as part of your anti fall, injury prevention and effectiveness tool kit!