Clinic in Chetwynd. Part II.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:33 PM
We are continuing with common problems that riders encounter. These ones are hard for the riders to notice because human's body does not have a built-in status quo. It perceives as normal a habitual way and not the right way. Fixing these problems requires time, dedication and watchful eyes on the ground or at least regular self-videorecording:
  • Ribcage is not connected to the pelvis. This mistake is hard to explain and actually until this clinic I, myself, didn't realize it's devastating results on ability to sit trot and canter well. Peeling off another onion's layer (Mary Wanless). I will write a separate blog on this issue. Here I only say that if you are not engaging your core and actively pulling your ribcage down you allow your ribcage to lift and your lower back to arch. Even if it happens only a fraction of a second at every stride or during half-halts you loose effective control and let your horse drop on the forehand and run through your aids.
  • Scooping pelvis motion during canter. Rider's pelvis must stay in vertical/neutral position at all times. There should not be any rolling or scooping action in any gait at any moment. Very often riders think they are "following" the horse's motion when they scoop with their seat during downward moment in canter stride. This creates a constant rounding and arching of the back, increases downward inertia that favors the horse's inclination to be on the forehand. This means the horse does not push himself up into canter stride from the hind legs but pulls himself forward from constantly falling on the forehand. Some riders even think they are "driving their horses forward" by adding a strength to the scooping action of their pelvis. To stop scooping think about canter as up and down. You need strong core to prevent forces of canter from moving your pelvis too much. And you need your thighs on the saddle to stop downward momentum of your body during second and third bit of the canter stride.
  • Heavy and light seatbones. Almost everyone has one heavy seatbone and one mobile and light. Riders may collapse through the hip and lean into opposite direction from the heavy seatbone (core is soft), or they may lean into the side of the heavy seatbone with their entire torso (core is working but asymmetry is not fixed). Riders do not realize how much such uneven weight distribution disturbs their horses. Horses create compensatory patterns to keep their own balance and comply to the rider's wishes. During turns and circles rider's having their heavy seatbone on the inside load it so much their outside light one may completely detach from the saddle. When the heavy seatbone on the outside riders struggle to turn and when being corrected feel like they are leaning in. However, they point out it is easier to turn their horses and they feel more like a part of their horse.
  • Rider is advancing one side of the body more than another. This is another side of a previous problem. Usually side of the light seatbone is more advanced than the side of the heavy seatbone. Very often it correlates with rider's handedness, but not necessarily. Asymmetries in the torso usually require observation and individual approach. Even though some patterns are more common than others it is erroneous to accept previous statements as hard rules. Effective correction may include advancing and lightening a heavy side or stabilizing and increasing weight on the light side, most probably both corrections are necessary.
  • Rider's upper body is pulled forward when the horse is heavy on the reins. Sometimes riders are having hard time understanding what to do with their hands and arms. They are either too active, constantly fidgeting, pulling, fixing something or they keep their fingers open and/or let reins become too long. However, in both situations they miss the fact that when horse is leaning on the bit they should not pull backwards and they should not let their horse pull them forward off the saddle trying to be soft. Interesting fact is in both of these situations riders are pulled forward. Riders who pull back usually try to fix things only with their arms. The horse is much stronger and will pull the rider forward. Riders who think they are soft simply follow their horses mouth down and forward and loose their seat. The trick is to stabilize the rider's torso and when the horse pushes into the bit allow this force to go through your arms into your back all the way down your seatbones. Because rider is not pulling the horse gets rewarded instantly he stops leaning on the bit. Because rider stayed in the saddle his/her balance wasn't compromised by the horse's actions.
Happy riding...
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