Jan 02

Your Amazing Back

Ageless in the Saddle for Women 40+

Your back = Your passage for the free flow of movement.

Horse - Horse and rider Drawing 170x125Few think kindly of their backs and all have definite thoughts about the cause of their back pain.

Yet, if soft stomach muscles are the cause then every child would have back pain.

If a strong back is the answer then muscular people doing hard physical work would not suffer back misery.

If a flexible back is the answer then dancers, athletes and acrobats would never be afflicted with back pain.

People go to great lengths to deal with their back pain, but there are two questions to ask to understand the value of your back care regime:

1) Are you creating relief or good back health?

2) What would happen if you stopped your back care regime?

If the answer is that your back pain would reignite then you are not creating true health, you are not healing.

“It’s amazing to what extent people are willing to follow strict, demanding, mechanical instructions, exercising dutifully each day, trying hard to do their best, carrying out directions as strongly and as quickly as possible, without considering the sacrifice of so much labor and the meagerness of the results. Some people are willing to invest any effort and pay any price to be free of back pain, except for this one thing: they are unwilling to give their full attention to themselves, to look inward and communicate patiently and kindly with their body.” Mindful Spontaneity, Ruthy Alon, page 7.

We were born to move. As this New Year begins allow yourself to embrace good back health and experience the sheer joy of movement as part of your human endowment.

Love your back as it serves as a passage for the free flow of movement as you ride.

Dec 16

Why work unmounted?

Ageless in the Saddle for Women 40+

Horse - Human and horse skeletonsOften riders are surprised when we work off the horse before working on the horse, and are curious as to why that is.

The reason we work off the horse first is because it this offers the biggest opportunity to create the most riding improvements, and to allow these improvements to become 2nd nature on your horse.

The reason for this is that movement lives in the brain NOT in the body - muscles are dumb, they just do what they are told. So working off the horse affords you the opportunity to free 100% of your awareness to create change.

This isn’t the case while mounted because on the horse your awareness is divided – it goes to your horse, to the task at hand...etc. This means that there is far less riding improvement because you can’t give 100% of your awareness.

So we work off the horse then we integrate the improvements your awareness has created onto the horse – and before you know it the improvements become 2nd nature so you always know how to create ease and comfort in and out of the saddle🙂

Dec 09

Chair Seat to Classical Seat

Ageless in the Saddle for Women 40+

Why is the “chair seat” so familiar and the “classical seat” so elusive?

Rider in chair seatHorse - Piaffe silotte

Familiar indicates a habit, and habit comes from a long line of possibilities such as human nature, cultural (being told that a stiff back is standing up straight), self-image (wanting to seem taller or shorter)... . Yet the one thing that all of these possibilities create is unbalance, and to keep from falling other habits are created.

As an example, sit on a stool with your feet on the floor, and

make yourself taller. Do you feel more or less balanced, and what do you do to keep yourself upright? If it is unclear do more of what you are doing to make yourself tall until you notice a difference. Now imagine riding this way.

Now,

make yourself smaller. Do you feel more or less balanced, and what do you do to keep yourself upright? If it is unclear do more of what you are doing to make yourself smaller until you notice a difference. Now imagine riding this way.

Perhaps one of these seems familiar to you – if so, this is your habit and balance.

So here we are, wanting to ride with a “classical seat,” and finding it difficult to maintain. Or that it is easy to maintain until a bobble arises then – whoops, right back to “chair seat.”

The reason is your sense of balance remains calibrated to the “chair seat,” it has not recalibrated to the “classical seat.” So when the bobble arises you automatically go to the balance you are familiar with – the “chair seat.”

So what to do? Give your central nervous system the opportunity to recalibrate. How?

On the horse, sit in “chair seat” and do what you did on the stool, i.e., make yourself taller then smaller, and notice the effect each has on your balance. Sit in the “classical seat” and do the same. Now compare what you felt between the two “seats.”

Ride in the “chair seat” and imagine a bobble (your horse trips, speeds up, spooks…), and notice how you balance yourself, for instance, perhaps you tighten in the hips, wrap your legs around your horse, or grab the reins….

Now, ride in the “classical seat” and imagine the same bobble and notice the moment you switch to your “chair seat” balance. Go back and forth like this, and at each bobble in the “classical seat” begin to recalibrate your balance, i.e., instead of tightening your hips let them stay free, instead of wrapping your legs around your horse let them continue to drape down, instead of grabbing the reins let your hands stay neutral… this awareness, done on the horse or in your imagination, is the sensory information your brain and nervous system needs to recalibrate your balance.

Spend a few minutes each time you ride exploring your seat and balance this way, and soon a “classical seat” will be yours bobbles or no bobbles.

Oct 22

Your BFF

Ageless in the Saddle for Women 40+

My one intention during the ongoing class series has been to share that a “deep seat” doesn’t just come from your “seat.”

It comes from your BFF – Gravity.

Horse - Piaffe silotte

Each week a piece of the puzzle was discovered about how to find and embrace your BFF in a lasting way.

One of the elements of sitting deeply is, of course, balance. Yet, the question is - how do you balance on your horse? What is your reference point? What keeps you there? Often riders balance to the horse, but if the horse is crooked then the rider will crooked too and off-balance as a result.

So what to do? What reference point to use?

Balance to the Ground

Allowing the soles of the feet to be oriented to the ground is the key. Sounds simple, but do you really know where the soles of your feet are?

To find out:

Lay on your stomach, close your eyes:

Notice where the soles of your feet are oriented in relationship to the room, a wall, the ceiling, a bit of both?

As you bend your knees track the orientation of the soles of the feet in relationship to the room (you can do one at a time if you wish). Rest.

Move your right heel in a small circle, notice the plane of movement that circle is in and how the movement changes the orientation of the sole of the foot to the room. Rest.

Now make a circle with the big toe, notice the plane of movement that circle is in and how the movement changes the orientation of the sole of the foot to the room. Rest.

Now notice the distance from the big toe to the heel, circle the heel, and notice if the big toe circles also, and if so, does it circle in the same direction as the heel or in the opposite direction? Notice how the movement changes the orientation of the sole of the foot to the room. Rest.

Just for fun, as you circle the heel turn to look at it – what happens? Try it – it’s like a magic trick.

Now do these movements with the left heel as your bring your awareness to how the sole of the foot is oriented to the room.

When next on your horse, do these movements with your feet in and then out of the stirrups. Are your feet where you think they are? When allowed to orient to the ground what affect does this have on your balance and seat?

Enjoy your discovery!

Aug 22

Autopilot

Ageless in the Saddle for Women 40+

A lovely article was published recently in The Chronicle of the Horse titled Don’t think, just do, and referred beautifully to the virtues of leaving thought behind and going on autopilot.

Wonderful  indeed assuming that one’s autopilot has the needed experiences to draw from for the task at hand.  Autopilot is a cultivated resource that, like a well, is a deep reservoir where experiences gathered from various situations during various conditions are held for future use.  It is not a magic bullet that some have and others don’t.

 So how is the autopilot well filled?  Is it simply the amount of time spent in the saddle or is it less quantitative than that? 

 I would say that if it were simply a matter of time in the saddle more riders would progress more quickly.  The resource available to riders to amass the autopilot resource is awareness

 Taking time during each ride to notice small differences, such as is the lower back free to move or is it being held tightly, and the big differences they make, floating over a jump or being left behind, feeds your brain with the information needed to fill the autopilot well. 

 This way, each ride, every ride,  enriches the rider’s autopilot resource so when the time comes thought can be put aside and autopilot can let them fly!