Grab your notes from your Take a Hike exercise, you should have figured out:
1. Take note of which dimension of movement is your body’s typical way of going
2. Take time to think about how you move now & if that may be different from how you moved when you were younger or before an injury.
3. When you walk in a straight line do you have even movement from side to side? Do you put the same amount of weight on each of your feet?
4. When you turn in a circle, how does that change? Feel your hips, do they tip into your circle or stay parallel to the floor? How does it change from smaller circles to larger ones? Does your inside leg extend longer as you step into your circle? Do you feel a weight shift? Do your hips remain parallel to the floor?
5. When you go uphill how do your hips change from when you’re walking on level ground?
Now hop on that ole horse of yours & note any differences in the movement of your hips. First ride a straight line at a walk, does your horse offer a different dimension of movement than you create on your own? This could be the source of some of your comfort or discomfort when riding! (but that’s another chapter!) Ask your horse to speed up that walk, does the movement change? Slow down the walk, how about now? Do you have even movement from side to side? Is weight even & balanced in each of your feet (with & without stirrups)?
Next try a few circles, this is where I usually loose a few of you! Keep trying, go back to walking on your own two feet a lap if you need to! Remember the extension of your inside leg when YOU walk a circle? Do you feel that same extension as your horse circles? You should! An active walk is best, don’t let your partner drag lazily through this exercise! It is very common to let centrifugal force pull you to the outside of your circle instead of actively engaging yourself as a rider into the movement.
My favorite analogy of this is for you to be an alert child. Don’t be the sleeping child, any parent knows that sleeping kids weigh at least half again as much as when they’re awake! On the other hand a kid having a tantrum can be even harder to carry, always fighting, pushing, pulling against you. Don’t be THAT ‘kid’ for your horse! Be the kid at the zoo who points at the next animal & whose parent is happy to head that direction!
So back to that circle, look where you want to go…no not the dirt! Look out ahead toward the top rail of the fence, with your eyes constantly moving to the next place you’re headed on that circle.
Make bigger circles & smaller circles, feel the changes in your body as the bend of your horse becomes more or less drastic. Are you staying balanced & centered throughout this exercise? Spend a little time noticing the change in your knees & the direction your feet are pointed. The smaller the circle the more your inside knee comes open & your inside foot points into the circle. Yes, that will change the way you feel your weight in your seatbones (opening your hip will move your inner glutes) but notice how you still feel even in your seat! Notice how the calf of your inside leg comes in as your knee rotates out, tada! Inside leg pressure! That slight cue is asking your horse to push his ribs to the outside of your circle to complete the bend through his spine.
Funny how easy your horse is bending for you now compared to before isn’t it?
Spend some time on this, if you’re not sure if you’re doing it send me a video I’d be happy to do an evaluation for you! There is another trainer on the internet offering video evaluation of a 1 min video for $100! I charge less than half that ($40) for a 10 min video! What a steal! And even if you don’t want an evaluation…yet….leave me a message about how this exercise worked for you! What did you learn? Did you feel new things?