Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Building Blocks: Balance Your Head!

As I'm thinking about teaching Centered Riding to adults new to Centered Riding, I work on the Building Blocks. I balance each part of the rider's body, top to bottom. Head to foot.

I have discovered that starting with the head and neck is important. By starting with
the head, which weighs 10-14#, I have each rider nod back and forth, and move
their head side to side, to find that middle spot where the head is in neutral

Before I do this, I have each rider look at the wall and remember where they
are looking. After we balance the head, I have the rider look at the spot again. We
always look a little higher after balancing our neck.

We raise our head a little, and by doing so, we raise our shoulders up and back,
and raise our whole body up. This is the desired effect.

We also bring our neck up and back. Think about your head being pulled up by a string. This image causes us to lift up and straighten our neck. This image doesn't quite do it for me. I understand it, but my body doesn't move. Another image is the turtle sticking his head out of his shell. My neck looked like that. Squished down and out. I asked the Instructor of my Level 1 clinic to demonstrate what I do. When I saw her tuck her neck down and out, then pulled her chin back and straightened her neck up, I got it. I practiced all last fall, and I am starting to carry my neck straight. I will say that my neck and shoulders ached a little all the time for at least 3 months. As I practiced every day, I'm sure that I kept a little strain in the muscles that supported the neck. Over the winter I didn't practice the exercises since I wasn't riding. I think it gave my neck time to relax and to become used to the new building block position.

Take your time when you stretch your muscles or reposition your body. There will be some strain and you will want to go slow with changing your body.

Try it now, sitting in your chair. Try it when you get on your horse.

I'll talk about other body parts next time.

I sure hope this humidity stops soon so we can get out and practice and ride!

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