Monday, April 19, 2010

Just keep swimming

This thursday I had a most interesting lesson with Hanne. It is usually Pelle who stops by, but this time he was sick and Hanne came in stead. Hanne and Pelle are marriend and they've got the same opinions and teach by the same principles, they just approach them in a different way. Pelle is straight forward and very talented at removing flawes from the rider. Hanne, on the other hand, picks up the pieces and combine your strengths with new input. The different approaches complete eachother quite well and makes the learning prosess more fun.

It has been a while since I last had a lesson with Hanne, and I had a feeling it would be tough. I was right. Apperantly Hanne had been "spying" on me for a while, I guess during the Oliveira clinic, and had a clear mission for the lesson. The main problem with my seat is that i sway in both my upper and lower back, and I have a tendency to get what we call "stiff in the hip", which means I don't follow the horses movements correctly. When I tense up in my legs, I block all movements in Boscos back and the result is not plesant.

So, as I said, Hanne had been spying on me and knew exactly what she wanted to "fix". As usual it was my lower back that was the problem. I had too much movement in the back so we needed to straighten up the back, and keep the movement in the hip-joint. The "mental image" I had to think of was to try to pull the symphysis and the sternum together, and this worked like a charm! I felt like the hunchback of Notre Dame, but both Hanne and Sissel asured me that I was quite straight.

I was working with my seat in seated trot for a while and tried to make Bosco stretch his back and into the contact. The last part was quite difficult as Bosco didn't really want to and I keep struggeling with keeping my weight on the inside, which again makes him struggle to keep balance. In the end, we had some moments where we managed to do what we were supposed to, but during this lesson it was mainly my abdominal muscles who took the beating.

The mental image of pulling the symphysis and sternum together was a bit of an eyeopener to me this lesson. Since the trainee course I have been struggeling with the fact that my seat often works backwards instead of forwards. The reason for this is simple, I am seated too far back in the saddle. Thinking about the symphysis and sternum being pulled together, just like doing a "crunch", automaticly placed my seat correctly, and as a result, my seat was working forwards. So, mission acomplished! Now I just have too keep this in mind and do this everytime i ride so I'll strengthen my muscles (they need it!).

Other things I need to work at; floppy elbows! For a while I thought I had them under control, but during this lesson where I got my torso in place, my elbows started flopping again and made sure i could not keep a steady hand. Unsteady hand = no contact! *sigh* To keep my elbows in place I have to think about flexing the trapezius and latissimus dorsi. However, this time that did not work. I'm not sure why just yet, but it might be related to a small overload on the thinking part of the riding. I will try to explore this subject further during the next sessions.

Checklist for me
  • Pull the symphysis and sternum together
  • shoulders back
  • "lean on" the abdominal muscles
  • chin up, look forward (with the head, not only the eyes)
  • loose in the hip joint
  • during light trot, remember the two-beat-rythm. Light seat, weight in the stirrups, not on the back.
  • weight down in the stirrups
  • weight on the inside while riding circles and other exercises.
Checklist for Bosco
  • warm up with mobilisation to the outside and to the inside
  • contact
  • if you want him to bend to the inside, give him room on the outside
  • transitions, transitions, transitions
  • while doing transitions to canter, use the "outside mobilisation"
Some day I will manage to keep both my body and Boscos in place, but until then I'll just keep training!