Importance of Position
After working with hundreds of riders for the past 38 years I have discovered something strikingly evident. The way the majority of us have been taught to carry and position our bodies on a horse is quite contrary to the way our bodies are designed to move.
Like horses, we have a natural and free way of moving that keeps us light and in balance and intern allows movement without pain or resistance.
The pelvic area is meant to move when we are riding, imagine applying super glue to the pelvic area. How easy is it to move the upper body? How about the legs? Not at all!
However when we sit with just a slight forward or backward tilt in the pelvis it is like gluing the pelvis/seat shut. The end result is a compressing of the lower spine, balance becomes much less natural and the muscles that are meant for movement are used to try and maintain balance.
As we use our muscles for this purpose our tasks require much more effort and can create discomfort such as pain in the lower back, shoulders, neck and joints.
Riding in a neutral pelvis is the unrestricted position which allows movement not only in the pelvis but the spine, joints and extremities. We need to be constantly rebalancing to the horse’s motion through this freedom within ourselves, if we cannot due to being stuck, locked or jammed we become very heavy on the horse’s back, the aids become unclear and the horse unresponsive or over reactive. Horses do not understand the language of tension.
When your horse is not responding to your specifications check yourself first. It would simply be impossible for someone with a ridged arm to offer lightness or softness too someone else. You can only offer or pass on positive qualities to your horse if you are already in possession of those qualities within yourself!
Why the Difference?
Being able to work with students who have
experienced years of going through the lesson factories and
sometimes the clinic concentration camps are the ones who come away
, sometimes only after one lesson, with comments like "I cannot
believe how much better I feel", "I cannot believe my back pain is
gone", I am not tired, out of breath, or sore" "I could ride another
hour"! " I cannot believe how much easier this is"! I explain to
them that once we learn to get into proper alignment which allows
the release of tension and find more balance we actually start to
get out of our own way! Things begin to function as they were meant
to function (with all the garbage gone ) with freedom and ease of
movement. Then you start to feel the real benefits! All of a sudden
you find yourself doing less work. Why? Because you are no longer
fighting your tensions, blocks and imbalances that you once had in
your body. The final result of that is now you are also out of the
way of the horse and guess what? He begins to react differently and
move more freely and give you more of what he is capable of giving!
You doing less work? and the horse giving you more?..sounds like a
"Win Win" situation too me! Cindi
Balanced Seat Training
Balanced Seat Training for the rider is similar to a college education for the business professional. Without a solid and correct educated foundation, one will find it difficult and challenging to be fully successful in any future endeavor.
In building the foundation for the rider, exercises and many combinations of exercises are given to develop the qualities of an independent seat, independent hands, balance, security, coordination, strength and confidence. Through these exercises, the seat and body parts are developed so that they can functionally take on their individual responsibilities of controlling, aiding and schooling the horse. Before the rider can expect to influence a horse in any positive way the rider must have acquired an independent seat and be in control over their own bodies. Isolated control over the limbs, torso and seat is essential as you fulfill a multitude of physical tasks.
The most influential as well as historically proven way in developing these qualities is through consistent, progressive work on the longe line. For the rider this allows months and sometimes even years of struggle and frustration to be removed from the learning process. You are given the privilege of concentrating only on yourself while the task of controlling the horse is given to a skilled professional.
In building the rider’s foundation, Centered Riding and Connected Riding along with body work are used to release tensions and then to re arrange the body from the inside out. The result is new found body alignment, balance, control, freedom and a new way of moving.
Cindi's lesson topics, tools and resources for riding.
1) Centered Riding and Connected riding for the rider is what Dressage is for the horse.
2) It will improve your riding whether you ride english, western or Chinese!
3) Tension is by far our biggest enemy, it effects us physically, mentally as well as emotionally.
4) Learning to ride is like multi-tasking at it's finest.
5) Your body is like a symphony of parts. Each working independently and then coming together as a whole without ever interfering with one another.
6) Move your bones within your skin.
7) Ride as if you had soapie-bones.
8) The horse needs to mold around the rider's frame, dance to your tune and play your game.
9) When you practice in your imagination, you never fail.
10) Feel gives you timing, timing gives you balance.
11) The quality you put in, is the quality you get out.
12) Visualize a movement several times prior to doing it.
13) When the rider changes, the horse's positive response will sell those changes to the rider.
14) Remember to breathe, it is the cheapest thing you can do!
15) Always keep going, keep moving, lengthen, expand, float, direct, no matter what the horse is doing do not loose the integrity of your position.
16) Only when you are in neutral pelvis and the upper body is at noon on the clock can you release, grow, lengthen, expand and come into balance.
17) You have to take him, if he takes you it is survival. You need to be the one pulling the strings!
18) Looking down unbalances the rider as the weight of the head, 15 lbs.
is felt by the horse, he reacts to any shift of weight which can dump him onto his forehand.
19) Neutral pelvis allows the hip joints and thighs to move, everything can move independently. Arched or slumped only causes the body parts to act as one solid mass.
20) When the horse releases, the core muscles engage and the hind legs can come under.
21) Connection occurs when the horse is allowed to oscillate left and right through the spine to the poll.
22) Being in neutral pelvis works because it gets you out of the way.
23) The posture we carry while sitting or walking is what we bring to the horse.
24) Bones and joints form the rider's position more than the muscles.
25) Most of the time the new correct position will make you feel like you are on Mars! Stick with it, before you know it you will wonder how you ever did it any other way!
26) Once the body finds true balance, it will always want to go back.
27) For awhile your old habits and patterns will come back and visit you like an old friend.
28) The rider's hands are only as good as the seat.
29) Learn to break the paradigm of sitting still.
30) Every rider's joint on a moving horse is a backwards circle of motion.
31) To change your horse from being out of balance to balanced you must first change yourself.
32) Training in a “false frame” causes compression to the spine and joints, prevents engagement of the hind legs and the use of the core muscles.
33) The compressions in our body are transferred to the horse and then we blame the horse for not responding.
34) Connected groundwork lays the foundation for
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