Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Lees » Thu, 09 Feb 2006 14:51:09


I was just googling around and came across this article.

Even though it wasn't actually what I was searching for, it really hit the
nail on the head with some of the problems I've been having lately.

http://www.horsemagazine.com/CLINIC/Fitness/part2/lisa_part2.html

Here's the bit that felt really close to home with me:

"A few lessons later I was cantering around on the left rein and had this
very strong realisation that my right knee and foot were pointing outwards.
I remember stopping halfway around the circle and saying to Larissa, "how
come my right foot is pointing to the outside when I'm on the left rein? It
feels all wrong!" Then, a short while later, we were working on some
shoulder-in on the circle and I could not get my leg to connect with the
horse in a way that helped him be in the right shape. Larissa jumped up and
showed me how her leg worked and it was then that we realised that I didn't
have the ability to put my lower leg on without bending my knee and raising
my heel. We could clearly see (and I could feel) the problems, but were
still unsure of how to fix them."

It makes a lot of sense now. I have this very same issue on my left side.
With leg yields, turns on the forehand and even just bending. And I ALWAYS
lose my left stirrup.

I've posted the link incase it may help anyone else. :)

So, in saying that, what kind of exercises and stretches do you do to help
your riding? And what IS this "core stability" everyone keeps referring to?

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by cind » Thu, 09 Feb 2006 16:38:06

HI!

Quote:

> It makes a lot of sense now. I have this very same issue on my left side.
> With leg yields, turns on the forehand and even just bending. And I ALWAYS
> lose my left stirrup.

I am fond of saying "Don't crunch up your leg!"  Lots and lots and lots
of students (and me too when I ride unless I constantly remind myself)
have a habit of bending the knee, just in general and also in
conjunction with giving a leg aid.  Our knees are very bendy and we use
them a lot so it's just natural for them to want to be in use.  Try to
remember to have a long leg, draped along the horse's side.  The
Centered Riding book has a bunch of visualizations to help with this.
One is to visualize that your legs reach all the way to the ground and
that you're walking along in soft squishy mud as you ride.

Also if you can take your leg off the horse, grab the back of your
pants behind your thigh, and pull as you place your leg back on, you
tend to get more of your thigh laying on the horse properly in a manner
that helps your lower leg stay parallel and long instead of crunching
up.  I think you have mentioned that you are on the small side, so you
don't have a big fat thigh that can squish out to the front if you
aren't careful (like me, heh heh) but you still want whatever looseness
your thigh has to be coming out behind and not squished to the front.

Then any exercises you can do to loosen that hip joint will help.  I
didn't read the article you posted yet but it might mention this.  And
last but not least, you might honestly be shorter on that side.
Usually folks are shorter on one side.  Oh and also, the left side is
the side used for mounting, and stirrup leathers (if leather and not
nylon) can get stretched out such that even if in the same hole, the
left stirrup is longer than the right, which can cause you to lose that
stirrup more than the other side.  Hopefully your instructor is making
sure it's not that simple of a problem!

Then when you need to use a leg aid, just bring it in so the horse
notices, right where it's already laying.  There is no need to bring it
UP, or BACK (unless doing a turn on the forehand).  Just bring it in.
Also I think many many people are taught to first turn their toes OUT,
and then bring their heels IN, and then give the aid.  I consider that
part of the escalation sequence for a sticky horse but not the normal
way I'd use a leg aid.  It is very difficult for me with my hip problem
to use my legs correctly.  If I try to bring them in without bending
the knee, it hurts and I'm very stiff.  If I can bend my knee (and bend
my hip, bringing my upper leg up) it's much easier for me to bring the
leg inward.  My de-tuned lesson horses don't care one way or the other
but a sensitive horse would find all that motion disconcerting, and it
also affects the seat to do all that with your leg, which in turn dulls
them up to seat cues...

Quote:
> So, in saying that, what kind of exercises and stretches do you do to help
> your riding?

I like to stand on the bottom rail of a fence with just the balls of my
feet and stretch my heels down.  I also like to bring a leg straight
out laterally and then do little circles, loosening up my hip joint.
Anything you can do for lower back and abdominals will be great as long
as you don't turn into Iron Man who holds himself stiff with his big
bulky muscle mass while riding!  But I wouldn't count those in the
category of things I like to do as they are difficult and I'm basically
a lazy slug...  Loosening up ankles is also important.  The various
times I've had physical therapy for the lower extremities, my
therapists have always said I have the tightest least flexible ankles
they've ever seen... So that's hard for me.  On the horse, around here
we like to do a scissors exercise with our legs, where the legs move
one forward and one back from the HIP joint, not the knee.  We also
bring one leg up at a time, bending it at the knee and holding it at
the calf, while focusing on keeping our seat evenly weighted and not
leaning or twisting.  And the ever popular (not) "pretend there is a
string coming out of your belly button pulling your hips and belly up
and forward".  Women hate that one for the most part since we seem to
spend so much of our lives trying to keep our bellies pulled INWARD.

Quote:
> And what IS this "core stability" everyone keeps referring to?

Well, you want to be loose but stable, not flopping around.  So if your
core muscles (lower back and abdominals) are strong and if you can
learn how to use them right, you can help your upper body be stable,
absorbing the motion but not flopping or bouncing or jarring into the
horse's back.  You have to be careful though because it's not a type of
strength that equals stiff and rigid and unyielding.

You probably already have some core stability since you've been riding
for a while now.  Do you remember when you first started, how your
upper body would bounce around?  Do you watch a lot of beginners?  Some
of my beginners actually look like rag dolls up there at first, with
their heads going one way while their tummies go another and their arms
flail about.  Core stability is what begins to allow all that improper
movement to lesson.  But it's not that your upper body stops moving.
It's more that it begins moving correctly in rythym such that it's not
interfering with the horse, such that it's allowing you to have a more
comfortable ride, such that it's helping you have quiet hands (it's
hard to have good hands when your upper body is going all over the
place!) and such that it helps you to keep a good, effective posture.

cindi

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Robin Saunders Rya » Thu, 09 Feb 2006 21:45:57


Quote:
>I was just googling around and came across this article.

> Even though it wasn't actually what I was searching for, it really hit the
> nail on the head with some of the problems I've been having lately.

> http://www.horsemagazine.com/CLINIC/Fitness/part2/lisa_part2.html

> Here's the bit that felt really close to home with me:

> "A few lessons later I was cantering around on the left rein and had this
> very strong realisation that my right knee and foot were pointing
> outwards.
> I remember stopping halfway around the circle and saying to Larissa, "how
> come my right foot is pointing to the outside when I'm on the left rein?
> It
> feels all wrong!" Then, a short while later, we were working on some
> shoulder-in on the circle and I could not get my leg to connect with the
> horse in a way that helped him be in the right shape. Larissa jumped up
> and
> showed me how her leg worked and it was then that we realised that I
> didn't
> have the ability to put my lower leg on without bending my knee and
> raising
> my heel. We could clearly see (and I could feel) the problems, but were
> still unsure of how to fix them."

> It makes a lot of sense now. I have this very same issue on my left side.
> With leg yields, turns on the forehand and even just bending. And I ALWAYS
> lose my left stirrup.

> I've posted the link incase it may help anyone else. :)

> So, in saying that, what kind of exercises and stretches do you do to help
> your riding? And what IS this "core stability" everyone keeps referring
> to?

When I started riding at the "new" barn, I had to relearn my position
big-time. I found that the only way to do it was while in the saddle.
There's just no "land" exercise that helps much with positional faults. And
I'm saying this as a physical therapist! Oh yes, you can stretch the hips
and strengthen the core with lots of exs (like Cindy says), and I would
highly recommend general fitness and Pilates or ball exercises for core in
particular, but what you really need is a tough, drill sergeant type
instructor who will force you to ride correctly.

I literally bled through my breeches on the insides of my knees when I first
learned to inwardly rotate my hip and keep my leg "in" the saddle, and post
without my shoulders coming far forward. I only had the strength and stamina
to do it correctly for about 1/3 to 1/2 the lesson at first, but that was
enough to rub my tender knees raw. I then got different breeches without the
seam in the wrong spot! :) I had ridden for years (if you don't count my
long hiatus without riding) with the same instructor who only told me "good
job" all the time and never corrected my position.

Now the right position is pretty easy, but I've started more general fitness
(elliptical machine and abdominal work) because I'm still not satisfied with
my stamina and want to give my abs a jumpstart cause we're doing more
sitting trot work now.

I had big problems keeping my feet in the stirrups correctly too. From the
sounds of it, you need to internally/inwardly rotate your hip and extend it
backward more. You are flexing it forward and outwardly rotating it, and
you're not keeping your "knee in the saddle". Part of the problem is
stretching (can you inwardly rotate and extend your hip correctly at the
walk? Make sure the inside of your knee is really turned inward - you might
have to help with your hands to position correctly at first.) Don't lean
forward to compensate for the difficulty/newness of the hip position. Walk
on a long rein in the warmup with your leg in the exaggerated inward
rotation/extension until it feels loose and natural. Now here's the hard
part. When you start posting trot, it will all fall apart unless you have
someone on the ground nagging you. Keep shoulders back, post with the hips
coming forward instead. Push the leg down long, and don't let the leg rotate
outward. It will feel like you're falling backward - it will also feel like
your pinching with your thigh RELATIVELY SPEAKING, but you're not. You're
strengthening the internal rotators of the hip. After they become toned, you
won't have to feel like you're pinching. Make sure you're pinching inward
keeping the leg long (otherwise, you're just strengthening the wrong muscles
which will do the WRONG kind of pinching). Keep it up. Prepare to hurt.

That's what I did. It works eventually. I think I improved to where I didn't
have to think about it in about 3-4 months, but I still have to remind
myself to not lean forward in tight turns (as in down quarterline) or at
canter. But that's more of a habit/tenseness issue then a strength/position
one.

Good luck,

Robin Ryan

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Lees » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 19:07:58

Quote:
> When I started riding at the "new" barn, I had to relearn my position
> big-time. I found that the only way to do it was while in the saddle.
> There's just no "land" exercise that helps much with positional faults.
And
> I'm saying this as a physical therapist! Oh yes, you can stretch the hips
> and strengthen the core with lots of exs (like Cindy says), and I would
> highly recommend general fitness and Pilates or ball exercises for core in
> particular, but what you really need is a tough, drill sergeant type
> instructor who will force you to ride correctly.

I'm a little worried that perhaps some of my trouble is because of a health
problem of mine.
I don't have much flexibility at all in my hips. Every now again, I get a
'tight' feeling around where my leg joins my hip/pelvis thinger and I have
really limited flexibility in it. So I'll stretch my leg all the way out to
the side, and then rotate my leg so my knee is kinda pointing to the ground,
and it lets out a really loud "CLUNK" sound. Everyone who hears it is mildly
horrified. It sounds like something inside, like bone or something. Once
it's "popped back in" (and that's what it feels like) the flexibility is
returned. Even my pilates instructor commented on how crappy my flexibility
was. I have -no- idea what this popping sound is.

So I saw the doc who felt around and poked and prodded, trying to push my
hips/legs into certain positions and he agreed that I have limited movement
around there. For instance, I can't bring my knees to my chest, or even
close. I'm supposed to go and get xrays but haven't had a chance so far. So
I don't want to really push myself as such as I don't know the extent of
this hip problem.

My sister had something wrong with her hips when she was born and had to
wear two nappies to keep things supported. So I'unno... something to think
about I suppose. :)

- Leesa

Quote:

> I literally bled through my breeches on the insides of my knees when I
first
> learned to inwardly rotate my hip and keep my leg "in" the saddle, and
post
> without my shoulders coming far forward. I only had the strength and
stamina
> to do it correctly for about 1/3 to 1/2 the lesson at first, but that was
> enough to rub my tender knees raw. I then got different breeches without
the
> seam in the wrong spot! :) I had ridden for years (if you don't count my
> long hiatus without riding) with the same instructor who only told me
"good
> job" all the time and never corrected my position.

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Jim Case » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 20:54:17

Quote:

> I told my instructor about the hip/flexibility thing, so the first thing we
> did in my lesson this morning was sitting trot on the lunge, with no
> stirrups. I -love- this work. I felt so balanced.

Great!

Not many instructors are willing to put forth the effort to do longe
lessons.  In fact, I've never met one IRL.  (My longeing was done by friends.)

- Jim

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Lees » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 21:01:36

You're kidding?

At my riding barn, all the first lessons are done on the lunge.
Even though I've been there for years, we STILL do lunge work!

I just think it's really beneficial. It takes away me having to worry about
my hands so I can concentrate on other areas.

You tend to really get a false sense of security when you hold onto the
reins, so take 'em away and you have to face the root of the problem. :)

- Leesa


Quote:

> > I told my instructor about the hip/flexibility thing, so the first thing
we
> > did in my lesson this morning was sitting trot on the lunge, with no
> > stirrups. I -love- this work. I felt so balanced.

> Great!

> Not many instructors are willing to put forth the effort to do longe
> lessons.  In fact, I've never met one IRL.  (My longeing was done by
friends.)

> - Jim

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Jim Case » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 21:54:15

Quote:

> You're kidding?

No.  The usual form of beginner lessons in the States is a group of
students working in an arena.  The riding schools always have some old
schoolies who will essentially work from hand and voice cues from the
instructor.

I think this approach is fundamentally flawed, but I'm not going to stop
people from doing what they've been doing for generations.

Quote:
> You tend to really get a false sense of security when you hold onto the
> reins, so take 'em away and you have to face the root of the problem. :)

Yep.

- Jim

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Susa » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 21:57:48


Quote:
> I'm a little worried that perhaps some of my trouble is because of a
> health
> problem of mine.
> I don't have much flexibility at all in my hips. Every now again, I get a
> 'tight' feeling around where my leg joins my hip/pelvis thinger and I have
> really limited flexibility in it. So I'll stretch my leg all the way out
> to
> the side, and then rotate my leg so my knee is kinda pointing to the
> ground,
> and it lets out a really loud "CLUNK" sound. Everyone who hears it is
> mildly
> horrified. It sounds like something inside, like bone or something. Once
> it's "popped back in" (and that's what it feels like) the flexibility is
> returned. Even my pilates instructor commented on how crappy my
> flexibility
> was. I have -no- idea what this popping sound is.

What you've just described is what my hips would do, but I had hip dysplasia
and was arthritic and had cartilege wear and bone spurs on the socket side
of the hip (your hip is a ball and socket join). To be honest, it sounds
like you're on that road... you're pretty young, though if I remember
correctly. I also used the "popped back in" description. What was happening
for me was that the ball of the hipbone would get hooked on a bone spur and
hang up, then click back in. A few times the clicking back in part took a
while, and it was extremely painful. There are tendons and muscles there to
hold things together but it's still disquieting.

I had my right hip replaced June 2004; the left this past September.

Quote:
> So I saw the doc who felt around and poked and prodded, trying to push my
> hips/legs into certain positions and he agreed that I have limited
> movement
> around there. For instance, I can't bring my knees to my chest, or even
> close. I'm supposed to go and get xrays but haven't had a chance so far.
> So
> I don't want to really push myself as such as I don't know the extent of
> this hip problem.

Definitely, get the xray - it will give you and your doctor an idea of what
to do and what to expect, now and down the road. If your problem is
con*** (like hip dysplasia) there isn't much you can do about it but at
least you'll know, and know that as you age, at some point the pain will get
to the point where you'll want to do something about it, and you'll get them
replaced.

Quote:
> My sister had something wrong with her hips when she was born and had to
> wear two nappies to keep things supported. So I'unno... something to think
> about I suppose. :)

That sounds like she had dysplasia. When I was born (back in the dark ages)
they didn't check for that in newborns; now it's one of the things they
check for routinely.

  Susan

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Lees » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 22:03:56

You're kidding? I've only just turned 22!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My jaw just hit the ground.

Quote:

> What you've just described is what my hips would do, but I had hip
dysplasia
> and was arthritic and had cartilege wear and bone spurs on the socket side
> of the hip (your hip is a ball and socket join). To be honest, it sounds
> like you're on that road... you're pretty young, though if I remember
> correctly. I also used the "popped back in" description. What was
happening
> for me was that the ball of the hipbone would get hooked on a bone spur
and
> hang up, then click back in. A few times the clicking back in part took a
> while, and it was extremely painful. There are tendons and muscles there
to
> hold things together but it's still disquieting.

> I had my right hip replaced June 2004; the left this past September.

> > So I saw the doc who felt around and poked and prodded, trying to push
my
> > hips/legs into certain positions and he agreed that I have limited
> > movement
> > around there. For instance, I can't bring my knees to my chest, or even
> > close. I'm supposed to go and get xrays but haven't had a chance so far.
> > So
> > I don't want to really push myself as such as I don't know the extent of
> > this hip problem.

> Definitely, get the xray - it will give you and your doctor an idea of
what
> to do and what to expect, now and down the road. If your problem is
> con*** (like hip dysplasia) there isn't much you can do about it but
at
> least you'll know, and know that as you age, at some point the pain will
get
> to the point where you'll want to do something about it, and you'll get
them
> replaced.

> > My sister had something wrong with her hips when she was born and had to
> > wear two nappies to keep things supported. So I'unno... something to
think
> > about I suppose. :)

> That sounds like she had dysplasia. When I was born (back in the dark
ages)
> they didn't check for that in newborns; now it's one of the things they
> check for routinely.

>   Susan

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by jsarana » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 22:22:45


Quote:

>> You're kidding?

> No.  The usual form of beginner lessons in the States is a group of
> students working in an arena.  The riding schools always have some old
> schoolies who will essentially work from hand and voice cues from the
> instructor.

Both places we've ridden in NY start with the longe with young riders.  For
the ***s it varied -- I think I did lunge lessons to practice balance, to
ride without reins/stirrups, at the first barn -- now I do those things on
the schoolies without the longe.

Quote:
>> You tend to really get a false sense of security when you hold onto the
>> reins, so take 'em away and you have to face the root of the problem. :)

agreed.

I found out last night how horseback riding helps my balance.  I tripped
carrying a bowl of hot soup to my daughter (over a sneaker wrapped in her
blanket on the floor) and was quite happy at how my body snapped to
rightness and not a drop was spilled.  All that wobbly-ended canter work did
me proud : ).

Though I must say, Pal is not so wobbly any longer.  My trainer is pretty
impressed by how rounded his back has gotten at the trot and he feels much
lighter to me, too.  This is all in just the last two weeks of regular work
(4-5x/week) after three months of getting him in better condition.  He seems
perky and happy to work.

We also did ground poles yesterday (three different spacings) and she was
impressed by his smarts, said she could see him thinking/pacing so he didn't
trip as he trotted them.

I'm lovin' it : ). I'm having her ride him twice per week so that he doesn't
just sit when I don't get there, and she's enjoying it too.

Jane

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Susa » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 22:22:54


Quote:
> You're kidding? I've only just turned 22!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

> My jaw just hit the ground.

I remembered you as being in your twenties, yup. Good idea to get that xray.
People have had their hips replaced that young though it's pretty rare.
FWIW - after you recuperate you feel a lot better and your hip works. You do
have to do some rehab exercises to get it back - they cut through a muscle,
disconnect things, dislocate things, and saw and hammer (!!) things, but
after that, it's cool. :)

  Susan

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Eileen Morga » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 22:48:59



Quote:

>> You're kidding?

>No.  The usual form of beginner lessons in the States is a group of
>students working in an arena.  The riding schools always have some old
>schoolies who will essentially work from hand and voice cues from the
>instructor.

Depends on the barn. I've been at a number where a single kid on a
longe was the norm for the first lessons.

Eileen Morgan
The Mare's Nest

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Jim Case » Fri, 10 Feb 2006 23:34:28

Quote:

> Depends on the barn. I've been at a number where a single kid on a
> longe was the norm for the first lessons.

It's good to know someone is doing it right.  I know I don't get around
much, but I've never seen anyone start beginners on the longe.

- Jim

 
 
 

Riding from the inside out: Exercising your way to better riding!

Post by Joyleen Seymou » Sat, 11 Feb 2006 00:13:35

Quote:


>> I told my instructor about the hip/flexibility thing, so the first
>> thing we
>> did in my lesson this morning was sitting trot on the lunge, with no
>> stirrups. I -love- this work. I felt so balanced.

> Great!

> Not many instructors are willing to put forth the effort to do longe
> lessons.  In fact, I've never met one IRL.  (My longeing was done by
> friends.)

> - Jim

Ahem.  All my students start on the longe line and stay there until they
can do rising trot without*** on.
--
writing: http://SportToday.org/%7Ejoyleenseymour/page4.html

horses: http://SportToday.org/~4cornersfarm