Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chat Group Leg Position

This week’s Horses Are Our Lives chat group is talking about some Centered Riding leg exercises. We are talking about stretching out our legs and hips and keeping our legs relaxed.

I encourage everyone to keep relaxing those leg joints. Practice leg exercises. First, start at the ankles and move your ankles in tiny circles, and up and down. Then stretch the knee joints, swinging your leg at the knee. Trying "marching" while sitting
still and while walking. Then move the hip joint by swinging the leg back and forth without bending the knee. Try these exercises and stretches and let me know how your leg and joints feel.

Here's another exercise to try. As you are walking your horse, lift one arm
slowly up and over your head. Then lower it and lift the other arm up and over
your head. While you are doing this, feel the movement of your horse. This
goes along with the "following seat". How does your horse feel? We will talk more about this next week.

I find that when I teach a lesson, I'm doing the exercises, whether I'm on the ground or on a horse, with the lesson person.. I am so glad that I stretched as I rode this week, as I could feel the stretch in my inner thighs. Chick is a finer built horse, but I think an English saddle still fits you closer to the horse. What surprises me, since I sit wider on Chick in a Western saddle, was that I felt a little tightness in my thighs riding English?
I was probably holding with my thighs without realizing it and my thighs make and feel contact in the English saddle when I don't actually hold as much in a Western saddle.

The horse's movement had us ride a certain way. We were taught to "pump" our legs as we posted the trot. Post up, sit and hold with our legs, rise and take our legs off the horse
slightly so that when we sit again, we bring our legs back onto the horse, which is the pump. This is interesting to think about the horse's ribcage moving, which we all know that the horse breathes and need to move his ribcage, but now putting all the pieces together to show the why!

In Centered Riding, we find our "bubbling spring" in our foot. That is an area right behind the ball of our foot. When we ride with our foot on this spot, we are more stable in our seat and in the saddle. What is interesting is that when we ride on our Bubbling spring", our legs stay in position better. At least mine do, as I had trouble with keeping my legs back in the past. I definitely am riding in a better position since last summer! Or at least I think so!

I think it's interesting that our legs and joints feel differently when we ride different saddles. I would have thought, as I get conditioned again to riding for the season, and with stretching, that we should feel/our legs should feel the same. Maybe it is the saddle and how the saddle "sits" us on the horse. I know my western and endurance feel the same. I thought the English sat me in the same place, or I put my seat bones in the same place, but my legs told me differently. I'm starting to think its where the saddle puts our hip joints!

"Embrace the Journey"

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