Applied Posture Riding - dressage using your seat

  • Applying Biomechanics To The Horse Rider 2

    Part 2   

    If you have not read Part 1 starts here

    The training of the horse to go long and low requires "eccentric muscle work". This is opposite to "concentric work".An example of concentric work is, lifting a bucket of water off the ground, or getting out of a chair or walking up a hill. All these movements are into resistance. Examples of eccentric work are putting a bucket down, walking down a hill slowly, sitting down in a chair without flopping. The jumping posture requires eccentric work and can be trained on the flat.

    Any movement that requires your muscles to control the movement into the resistance. If you are in a tug of war, pulling the rope in is concentric work letting it out is eccentric work.  Stretching long and low is eccentric work. The building of a top-line requires the horse to stretch his head and neck towards to ground, (eccentric work).To do this he must be allowed to and taught to do it. This is the action that builds the tone strength and bulk along the back and neck-line.

    The rider must be balanced with a stable lower leg to allow the horse to perform this movement.  If the rider is not balanced then he will use the reins and inhibit the horse from stretching lower. The rider must be able to have a light seat as well, so the horse can use his back without the rider driving into it. We want symmetry in our training so yet again the rider must ride with equal weight distribution in both directions or the horse will become, or stay "one-sided".

    This is often demonstrated as a bridle lameness. When investigating lameness in a horse a vet does not necessarily know about the influence a rider has on the lameness. It may be worth getting an opinion from a respected trainer or coach, especially if the vet finds no clinical reasoning for the lameness.

    The importance of understanding the biomechanics of both the horse and rider can save many dollars and many hours of frustration. Arena work, as well as hill work, is great for eccentric muscle training. For the rider, the Applied Posture Riding exercises are a must. It takes time and patience to build up muscles.

    Skeletal Structure and Muscle Structure.

    Confirmation is the size and shape of the bones and this can’t change much,(skeletal structure). Posture is how the bones are held together and how they are supported and how they are moved by the muscles, ligaments, and tendons (muscular structure). Soft tissues can be changed. So the horse's muscle shape and strength and control are changeable as is the riders. Bad confirmation can't be changed totally, but it can be controlled and managed. Poor confirmation in the legs can be managed with correct shoeing.

    A bad posture in a horse and a rider can be changed. For example, a horse with a U neck (upside down necks which are more heavily muscled underneath) can be trained to reverse this posture.before and after APR A rider with round shoulders can be trained to be tall and upright.

    It is important to know your horses' past. Has he raced, has been badly handled, has been badly trained, and what is his breed? The thoroughbred has a different brain to the stock horse.

    It can be due to emotions the horses are carrying, for example, negative emotions like fear, or anxiety, anger, depression, etc. In a person who is stressed, fearful, and anxious you might see a contracted chest, tight muscles, and a tight jaw, round shoulders, and a stooped posture. Similarly, you can see these same patterns in horses, and of course, these tension patterns extend on all throughout the body. Poor posture could be the result of an accident or injury or due to pain or discomfort, for example, sore feet, or it could be from badly fitting saddles and poor riding.

    How do we change these Postures?

    As I have said it is important to have knowledge. I believe the rider is the first point of change. A rider can identify their own strengths and DSC 0087websizeweaknesses by following my Applied Posture Riding program. Only when a rider is able to balance through their core and lower leg will they be able to ride in balance with their horse. A balanced rider will be able to sit light and get off their horses back and allow it to develop.

    A balanced rider will be able to keep their weight centered and symmetrical as the horse grows bulk and length. A balanced rider will not pull on the reins. A balanced rider will feel the movement under them. When horses are ridden in better biomechanical balance their postures can start to change. Although in some cases horses need extra help with bodywork to make these changes.

    Massage, special stretches from the ground, showing the horse what you want is needed sometimes. A good saddle fit is very important. Knowledge in all areas is a must to have the best outcome.

    Good luck and enjoy your riding Annette Willson Applying Biomechanics Of The Horse And The Rider Part 2

  • The Mystery Of "Use More Seat" When Horse Riding!

    How To Use Your Seat Correctly is the Question?

    Training a rider to use their seat is not natural! Why?

    Why do riders rely on their reins for balance?DSC 0028websize

    Your seat is your buttocks and this is not a body part people focus on or use to move or to function. (Except for the obvious).

    People don't think or focus on their seat during their daily lives (as a rule). We use our eyes, our hands and our feet mostly for performing our daily tasks. We sit on our seat.

    Our eyes give us a target to go to, our feet take us there and our hands then perform a function. Our seat is just a body part. The seat is a follower of movement, not the leader.

    So when a rider is asked to "use more seat" what does this mean? If your seat has only been used to sit on then how does it suddenly become a leader of a movement when riding. The default first movement is usually the hands and hence the reins.

    To most, it suggests they should wriggle or vibrate or jump around in the saddle.

    To some it means to change the direction of weight through your seat bones, to others it is a pelvic tilt and to many, they have no idea!

    Riding Instructors use this term all the time "more seat".

    DSC 0101websizeHOW ? is the question?

    The seat if a follower of movement and not the leader of a movement. The anchor for the seat is the hands unless it is trained otherwise. This leads to an unbalanced horse and rider which then leads to a horse heavy through the front end and possibly a bridle lameness.

    However, you can train it to become the leader and learn HOW to use more seat in the saddle.

    The HOW is what riders want to know. It is not an isolated answer or a matter of a few exercises. Like all new skills, it takes an understanding, time and training.

    Rider Biomechanics has become popular but many "experts" do not fully understand "Human Movement".

    We all have habits, age-related changes, muscle imbalances and scars that affect our body. These do not go away when we ride. The knowledge of clinical reasoning is the missing knowledge of so many rider experts.

    The existing body problems riders have needs assessing and dealing with long before a rider can "use more seat".

    A rider with a painful, stiff lower back or weak hip muscle will try anything to get their seat to move? This creates more problems, and many are then transferred to the horse. An injury may have created a muscle inhibition resulting in a muscle not firing off when needed.

    The core group is the chief to all stability and without it, you cannot use any of your leading points efficiently in or out of the saddle. Your hands (reins) will be used for balance, mostly you will tip forward and your lower leg will swing around. Sound familiar?14934490 horsewoman in uniform at a jumping show

    To change HOW you ride is a matter of working through the steps.

    Once your core is trained to be used on demand you can then train your lower leg to be solid and stable. This skill will allow you to use your hands and feet for effective reproducible aids. Once you have established this you can then train your seat to follow and become your primary tool for riding.

    Pilates will not teach you this. Why? Pilates is a lifestyle routine for strengthening your core in "neutral spine" horse riding requires so much more of your core than sit to stand ect. Riding requires "active flexibility" through the pelvis and spine. The pelvis does not remain neutral!

    Applied Posture RidingAnnette WillsonTraining Riders To RideRiding With Your Core 1

    Think beyond your instructor, beyond your Pilates Class and beyond your own Physio, each has knowledge of what they do. Do they have knowledge of what you do?

    If you want to change the way you ride and the way you train your horse then have a look at my way of training. 

    Applied Posture Riding Program.

    Contact me with any Questions, I can start your new way of thinking and training now.

    Look Good Feel Good Ride Well.