Aftermath of my trip.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Tuesday, May 11, 2010 04:31 PM
Since I came back from my trip to Denver (read about it in my April 2010 blogs) I was raking my brains for the reasons: Why I let my attention get away from the seatbones? I came up with several factors:
  • I was visiting Frances in March after long season of winter riding. For me most of winter riding happens outside in the fields and in deep snow. I shorten my stirrup leathers for the winter season and ride mostly rising trot and canter in the lighter seat: not two-point but not fully plugged in neither.
  • I was riding a lot of green or young horses. These horses do not understand the seat aids well and young horses require actually lighter seat because their backs are not strong enough.
  • Because I didn't really need very deep, connected and subtle seat I neglected it's training: riding without stirrups.
  • I was working without any eyes on the ground to tell me what is going on.
Now that I felt the difference between having the seatbones engaged and not I would try my best not to let this feeling and ability to slip away. Even though now I am not taking lessons I can videotape myself on regular basis and analyze my own ride. During summer I use my husband as eyes on the ground at home. Through years he learned a lot to be very helpful. Unfortunately, during winter riding I cannot really recruit him due to cold weather and far distance to the fields. I reevaluated all of my students and was able to help them to connect to their horses better. All of a sudden I can see when a seatbone is unplugged much better than before. I guess I wasn't really looking.
The other problem I was really thinking hard about is how I made a mistake about my left side weakness? I always new that I like to collapse my left side. Even when simply standing I would load my left leg and drop my left shoulder, this was my habitual posture if I had to stand for a long period of time. I knew my seatbones were not loaded evenly because Colonel's saddle pad had uneven sweat spots under my seatbones, always bigger spot under left one. This plus a few pictures of myself sliding to the right during left canter made me think left seatbone is heavy one and right I cannot plug in. Thinking about all of this lately and doing some subtle exercises on and off the horse I came up with the following explanation:
  • A few years ago seeing myself dropping left shoulder I decided I need to shorten my diagonal from left hip to right shoulder, thinking this will level the shoulders and stuff my left side. Well, I have been working on that, exercising more upper portion of my right external obliques and lower portion of my left internal obliques. I think I do not need to do the extra work anymore, obviously I overdid it :)
  • Even worse, I think I shouldn't have done extra work at all. Instead, I should have focused entirely on my left side, all obliques. My left side was weak always, the entire side. Recently, after my trip and image of pulling my right shoulder toward my right hip that helped me to stay centered, I realized if I do not pay attention I carry myself with slight shift to the left in the upper torso. Since I realized that all the balancing exercises where I had trouble of keeping myself level became so much easier to execute. The shift is small, it is about an inch at the head hight, however, on a horse, on a circle, during canter it becomes a major disturbance in my balance either direction.
  • Left seatbone always was worth. It was hard to see 10 years ago because my right seatbone wasn't good neither. They both were juggling on the saddle and pictures would show me slipping to the right because my left thigh is not strong enough and allowed me to drift off the saddle. When I started learning about the seat and plugging in my seatbone I erroneously worked harder on plugging my right one thinking left does not need that much. I always felt more effective in right half-pass then left exactly because of my left seatbone, which would slid off and allowed a horse to lose the bend. Now I see it very clearly.
  • Weak left thigh is complicated by tight left hip joint. This I knew from the start and I have been working on stretching it. It is better than before and closer to right one but still they are not equal. Which means organizing my left side is always going to be my issue and I must first make sure it is in order before focusing on my right side.
If you found this a little bit too much and complicated I don't blame you. I think even a year ago I wouldn't be able to go so deep into this stuff and dissect myself into pieces. The more I know the more Frances helps me find the roots of my problems. Visiting her is like going for the major system update :)
Happy riding...
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