Hurts So Good

I feel a little bit compelled to write a touching, meaningful, inspirational "Happy New Year" post, but I don't think I will.

Mostly because everyone else is doing it, and I just need to be different and not jump on that bandwagon. It's a little crowded.

So I'm going to talk to you about how picking up some extra shifts at the barn has made me realize how woefully out of shape I've let myself become. Again. Whoops. But seriously, doing a few stalls a day, throwing hay around, and whacking ice out of water troughs with a sledgehammer has allowed me to rediscover my muscles in a really good way. Hey there, abdominals! Hi biceps! Sorry I've been neglecting you. I'm going to put my new yoga mat to good use soon, I promise!

I gave Rachel a lunge lesson the other day, and we focused majorly on her core strength and being able to find a place of balance and stability in the saddle. She also swore a lot during the course of the ride and had difficulty walking the next day, but the overall outcome was positive. After being tortured with lots of painful exercises designed to get her to focus on her abs, lower back, and thighs, Rachel started giddily exclaiming how solid, tight and balanced her position felt. And when she really concentrated on holding her body in a balanced, strong position, Toby went better too. Horses gain the confidence to carry themselves when they feel that the rider can carry their own body with strength and balance, and have a much easier time coming up underneath you when you're not wiggling all over the place like a five year old child who just ate too many cupcakes.

I'm going to share some of my favorite exercises with you all over the next few posts, because winter is a GREAT time to really focus on your fitness and equitation since most of the world is stuck in an indoor, or just flatting when they can if the outdoor ring isn't frozen or snow-covered.

One of the best exercises for building a balanced foundation is seriously simple: Standing In The Stirrups. It can be done at the halt, walk, trot, or canter, and is a really easy way to find your balance and correct your leg position. Start at the walk or halt, and stand straight up in your stirrups. Your crotch should be over or just in front of the pommel of your saddle, and you should find yourself rolling onto the front of your thighs as you raise up. Keep your heel down, and just take a moment to find a point of balance. You'll notice very quickly that if your lower leg falls too far back or creeps too far forward, you lose your balance immediately. When you find the position that allows you to remain balanced above the saddle, take a mental note of how it feels! THIS is where your leg should be all the time! As you get better at finding your balance, kick it up a notch and work in this position at the trot and canter. I also love to use this position as a quick correction when my leg gets out of whack by just standing up for a few strides to find the "sweet spot" again.

Enjoy the newfound burning feeling in your legs!


Popular Posts