I want to share with you an exercise you can do in the warmth of your home to find your neutral pelvic position. It’s time to get gussied up, break out those chinks or armitas, your tall boots & your spurs, the more garb you have on for this exercise the more entertaining it is!!
OK so got your craziest duds on? We’re going to start by pointing your seat bones straight back behind you, you can bend all the way forward like I did in this picture, but you don’t have to bend quite this far! Just bring a little awareness to those butt bones. Next while keeping your pelvis tilted (forward at the top, back at the bottom) I want you to play around with walking. Walk forward, walk backward, walk sideways & weird ways (toes out & toes in). Lift your legs & see how far you can lift your knees while still keeping your pelvis tilted. How wide can you send your knees out & around to the sides, can you bring them in towards your mid-line? Don’t hurt yourself, no flailing around & falling down, it’s just a simple exercise in the art of body awareness. If you have a funny friend ask them to do this so you can laugh at them too! You might see something in their movement that brings some awareness to how your body works too. Take at least 5 minuets maybe more to really explore this before moving on.
OK now we’re going to do the opposite, point your seatbones forward. Yes, that’s it like a little boy peeing with no hands! Now play with your walking in this position, walk forward, walk backward, walk toes in, walk toes out. Lift your legs & see how far you can lift your knees while still keeping your pelvis tilted. Can you swing your legs forward & back? How would this position affect your ride? (Yes another 5+ mins please!!)
It’s time to find that neutral position we want to have. Now, when I talk about neutral pelvis, I’m not talking about not moving your pelvis or not using your seat when you ride, this is simply the term I’m using to describe the most common position your pelvis should be in in the saddle, the position that allows the most flexibility & range of motion (ROM), the position that allows you to use your seat without loosing your balance. The position a rider returns to (even if only momentarily) between EVERY transition (transitions of speed, transitions of direction including bends & laterals). Point those seatbones straight down, and bend your knees slightly. I like to put a flat hand on my sacrum (the flat triangle shaped bone at the back of your pelvis) and my other hand flat (well as flat as it’s going to get thank you very much!) on my lower belly, below my belly button. Your center of gravity is in there somewhere! Now do your same walking exercises, forward, backward cha cha cha, swing those legs, lift those knees!! Don’t you feel awesome! All that stuff that was hard to do & funny to watch earlier isn’t so bad is it!??! Congratulations you have found neutral! From this position you are ready for anything!
Let’s equate this exercise to being mounted & in the saddle.
**sidenote** this blog has taken me longer than I had hoped, you have no idea how hard it is to look at pictures of your own butt & try to decide which one is best…I thought I was skinnier than this! I did eat quite a few Christmas cookies, but sheeish! Talk about a reality check 😛
So here I am in the saddle in neutral, pointing down where my seatbones are pointed. Lucky for you I wore my favorite Wranglers which have pretty dang straight pockets (we all know not all jeans are created equal, but not all pockets are straight either!), but since I didn’t do a wardrobe change for this photo shoot, compare the angle of the seam of my jeans & my pockets in each photo.
Next are some action shots of an exercise I often guide participants through at my clinics & retreats, it’s a fun way to loosen up & find neutral while we’re moving (standing around talking is SO over-rated!). When you ride give this a go….tip forward, as far as you are comfortable *remember to keep breathing! Now slowly tip back as far as you are comfortable, yes you’re still breathing! Then back forward again, but not quite as far as last time, and back and forth & back & forth until you’re pretty dang near the middle. Feel those seat bones?? Are they pointing straight down under your horse’s belly?
Neutral should be a comfortable position to be in, but make sure to take a few breaths & double check that you can stay in ‘neutral’ without effort. If gravity is being a bitch (heard that song from Miranda Lambert yet??) & pulling on you, stand in your stirrups wiggle a little & set back down with those seat bones right under you. Feel better? *if you’re still having to put effort into being in ‘neutral’ core strengthening is in your future! You might also want to get your saddle checked for fit to both you AND your horse! E-mail me some pictures I might be able to help from here! 🙂
I love this series of photos! Thanks Pam for taking them for me!! 🙂So at the beginning I’m WAY back, then moving fwd, then way forward, moving back & check this one, my pelvis hasn’t caught up with my shoulders yet has it!??! LOL then I find neutral…and what happens? My horse licks, uh yeah got the memo Lark, we both like neutral best 🙂 Thank you! Now the last image here I’m starting to set Lark up for a turn, see how my pelvis is in neutral so that my legs can be long & soft, my inside leg rolls open just slightly as my upper body twists in the direction I want to go, asking her to bend under me.
More bending photos….see my open knee? See how by opening my knee my calf is encouraging her ribs to cave on the inside allowing a nice bend all the way through Lark’s spine!??! In a perfect world I wouldn’t be tipping my shoulder into the circle, but hey I’m getting better & I’d like to point out that beautiful loose rein…thank you very much!
And here’s that bend I was asking for just a second after I asked for it! 😀 I straightened my shoulders (yeay me!) my knee is open inviting the bend & you can clearly see Lark stepping under herself on the curve of the circle. Not bad for 70 saddles huh? Proud Mamma moment 😉
Hope you enjoyed! Please do post comments & questions, I’m looking forward to hearing from you! & hopefully seeing you in 2016! If you aren’t on facebook you can see photos from our amazing retreat at Apache Springs Ranch in AZ at this link: www.facebook.com/media
We’ll be heading back there in October & I have a ton of stuff in the works for between now & then! 🙂