Jumping. Hips Asymmetry.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Monday, October 15, 2012 01:13 PM
I would like to continue the conversation about jumping and tell you an interesting development I witnessed. The story is about a male jumping rider and his horse. The first time I saw them during my clinic, it was a while ago. He was riding in a semiprivate lesson with his wife. His horse had hard time cantering on the right lead and I could see he had a twist in his hips toward the right. This puts him in a perpetual left canter position. Cantering left they both feel very good, it is easy, cantering on the right lead is a struggle for both. The horse most likely has his own issues and may be as well very handy on the left lead and awkward on the right. On the other hand most horses have a preferred lead and it is rider's job to develop them more equally.
This summer I saw this rider again. I finished teaching and was about to leave. He was riding outside working on flying changes. Can you guess which direction he had beautiful balanced changes and which his horse refused to change at all? Of course - from right to left he could do changes like a pro. He didn't move, didn't disturb his horse and changes were smooth, clean and straight. Other way it was a disaster, he would twist himself out of the saddle (which didn't really help), kick, pull, speed up his horse, throw him out of balance. The horse either didn't change at all, or would be late behind several strides. Over and over he tried, same results.
At the Harvest Show I saw him warming up for his class - 2'6'' or 2'9'' jumping course. He was jumping in a warm-up ring on the right lead and his horse would change the lead right before the jump and then scramble over it dropping rails regularly. It happened every single time over a period of 5 minutes that I watched. His instructor tried different ideas, nothing worked. I was busy with my students and after I looked at the jumping ring this man was in it in the middle of the course. He had a series of left turns and jumps from the left lead and then he had to change direction and jump an oxer from the right lead. His horse refused... Which wasn't really a surprise. If I only have seen this man at the show it would be hard to really pinpoint the problem. However, from what I saw before his issue is his own asymmetry and how it affects his horse's performance. His very stiff hips that are set in a certain position do not allow him to stay with horse's canter motion easily and his horse feels like something pulls and jerks him away from right canter.
All of us have one hip more flexible and mobile than another. We all, like horses, prefer one lead of canter to another. For example, I like right lead. It is easier for me to keep my right hip ahead of the left one and match horse's motion in canter. Left lead is harder for me I must pay strict attention to how my body "canters" making sure my left hip stays in its place and does not restrict horse's movement. The more I know about biomechanics of riding the more I see how important it is to have very supple hips (supple means strong and flexible giving you ability to use them precisely).
Happy riding...
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