Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fixing My Balance

It is the opinion of my trainer (and I agree with him) that many of the problems I'm having come from my lack of balance.

I had him get on Spider the last time he was here. Spider went beautifully, of course. He was even able to get shallow half passes on him. I haven't schooled half pass in well over a year. On one hand, it's nice to know that I have done a good job training him, but on the other hand it's a bit humiliating because I can't ride him that well. You'd think the person who trained the horse would be able to ride him best. Although, several trainers I hold in high regard have said that the mark of a well trained horse is that anyone can ride it.

So, how to fix my balance? Sitting on a horse, most of your balance is coming from your core. I do Pilates and Yoga every day for that. I really like the balancing Yoga poses, particularly Eagle, Warrior III, and Half Moon poses, for building core strength and balance. But, I had a bit of an "Aha!" moment yesterday.

I've been noticing that my shoulders and upper back have been sore after riding. It's an area that riders don't neccessarily concentrate on much (or, not this rider, anyway). But, to follow and give the reins, you need to be able to move your arms while maintaining a solid core. I'm having a bit of trouble with this right now, I tend want to collapse if I move my arms at all. So, I thought to myself "Maybe I should do some exercises out of the saddle to work the muscles that are sore in my back". If I can strengthen them, perhaps I can fix this out of balance problem. So, I broke out my exercise ball and dumbells and did some seated rows on the ball. I also spent a little time bouncing the baby while sitting on the ball, and lifting him up above my head. During all this exercise I tried to be very conscious of my core, keeping it well engaged so that I didn't collapse in my middle. Sitting on the ball helps with this, if you don't keep your core engaged on the ball it starts moving around, threatening to dump you on the floor. Sort of like a horse. *L*

We'll see if my upper body strength training helps. It certainly can't hurt.


  1. Pushups! Arms, shoulders, AND core all at once.

    I'm a big fan of simplicity...I don't stick to workouts unless they're very simple to do anywhere.

    Good for you for wanting to work on it! It's funny, I've actually been thinking lately that I need to start doing yoga again because my hip flexors have been aching from a more open, correct position in my new saddle. My hips have always been pretty tight...cobbler's pose used to kill me.

  2. Good idea!!

    I once had a comment on a dressage test--riding a horse I alone had trained from a 2 year old, "Will make a nice pair when rider catches up to horse," meaning his training. *sigh*

  3. Shannon-

    Something that works for me re upper body - yoga related - is keeping my shoulders back and down, chest open, so that I have that nice crease between my shoulder blades. Best thing is you can do it anytime, all day long.

    Hips are my nemesis :)

  4. Good reminders to keep the core strong. My weakness is to do all the work with my lower back and none with my abs when riding. Naturally this leads to lower back pain when not kept in check :)
    I'm glad to read that you and Spider are doing so well.

  5. I think you are on something. In Pilates, I am at the intermediate level, and I focus mainly on keeping my shoulders down, in order to sue my dorsal muscles, instead of the trapezius. My instryctor makes sure I do not have the crease between the shoulder blades. It is more holding a pencil under your armpit. The shoulder blades are to be flat ,but I am learning to lift up from the middle of my back. It is like a lenghtening from teh middle of my back, pushing up my boobs, and opening the shoulders. But I do not push my shoulders blades back, because it will enage my rhomboids.

    It is hard, lots of teaser, and swam, and one where you curl your spine, then extended and back ... don't know the name ...

    Well done for Spider's training, a TRAINED horse can be ridden by EVERYBODY!!! Otherwise it is not training it is forcemanship.

  6. I can think of several people offhand who ride Izzy way better than I do. It's fun to watch and I try not to think about how far behind I am.

    I'm starting pilates tomorrow and I'd be interested in trying yoga... it just looks super hard.


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