The Clear Answer Is Sorcery
Hey there Bloggerlandia!
It's been a hot minute.
We had a crummy 1/3 of a horse show, Dino got a day off, and we spent the rest of last week doing some light schooling and reuniting with our very favorite bodywork and saddle fitting pro. I continue to be convinced that she is a literal sorceress. I've got some thoughts and feelings about where to go from here on out with our training, but first, let's talk about the wizardry.
It's been a little over a full year since I started getting Dino regular bodywork sessions and staying aggressively on top of his saddle fit and balance as his musculature changes, and the difference it's made for him has been nothing short of miraculous. His chest has gotten significantly wider as we've enabled him to stretch and open up that area of his body, he's put on topline muscle in all the right places, and he's moving better at 19 than he did at 15.
The visual changes in his posture before and after a session are still astounding to me!
The top photo is just minutes before Dino's most recent bodywork session. The bottom photo was taken the next morning. The change in his topline is CRAZY and it's all because our favorite sorceress was able to manipulate, massage, and stretch Dino's muscles in such a way that his posture was improved. It's still dramatic and amazing every time.
She was also very, very happy with how Dino was looking overall, and super pleased with his condition and the improvements he's made since our last session in the spring. The areas that showed a lack of development (his right front leg, and behind his right shoulder in particular) had been strengthened and become more balanced in their muscling, and the usual places of tension that we find in the left side of his neck weren't quite as tight as they've been in the past. She did find a 'new' muscle knot in his left flank, and let me feel it as she was halfway through working it out. I could feel soft, squishy muscle all along the area that she had already worked on, and then all of a sudden as I moved my hand down Dino's flank, I could feel a hard, ropey knot. Wow! No wonder he sometimes has trouble bringing that left hind leg under! He also got some cold laser therapy on that spot, and has been feeling great ever since.
Dino's topline had also developed significantly enough that we had to re-evaluate his saddle fit and switch up the shim situation. The shim we had over his right shoulder came out, and we have just one shim under the rear of the left side of the saddle. That area, as evidenced by the huge muscle knot in his flank and continued under-development of his back, still needs some extra support. But overall, his saddle is fitting better than ever and I'm SO glad that I chose the right one for him when I first bought it and I haven't had to buy something new!
After adjusting the shims, I hopped on so Tara could evaluate how he was moving with the new balance. I ended up getting a mini riding lesson out of it, which was awesome! I've always felt unbalanced on my left side, and even with a saddle that was now in perfect balance relative to Dino's topline, I still sit with my left seatbone wanting to tuck underneath me and shift towards my pony's spine, collapsing through the left side of my ribcage. In effect, Dino and I just encourage each other's crookedness to the left. It's not productive.
Tara suggested thinking about contracting my psoas muscle to lighten my left side while keeping my thigh soft, and the result was like she'd just waved a magic wand over my seat. Suddenly, Dino could move his left hind leg all the way through, and we were so much more balanced! I was posting more evenly, and everything seemed to click into place. In the canter, I really focused on 'plugging in' with my right seatbone, and it made a HUGE difference in how much more through and balanced Dino was able to be.
The next day when I rode he felt fantastic, and after a weekend off he offered up the straightest, most through, powerful, round walk during our Monday evening dressage ride.