Monday, December 14, 2015

Power Posture


I was nervous about starting again with a green horse, but this journey has turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I've done in a long, long time.  I thank my trainer, Regina, for that.  Where I used to hit a road block and stop, Regina can see things from a different perspective, anticipate issues, and help me get past it.  
 

It has also been fun to have a winter project and to bond more deeply with Leah, who I've raised since she was two. I feel like the Grinch whose, "small heart grew three sizes that day."  .

During our lessons, Regina has been working with me on what she calls my "power posture"--seat down--in order to make a connection with Leah and allow her to move up from under me.

I stopped about half way through the lesson to ask Regina what she meant by "power posture", and she told me that my horse can ignore me when I lean forward or am otherwise unbalanced, but when I sit back, she has to give me her attention and respond to my request.  In other words, my power posture connects me to her.

Leah's response to my request Friday was, NO.  She had taken three steps forward and one step back and wasn't inclined to give me her attention or give up control.  I don't like to make excuses (and yet I do), but there were three other horses in the arena at different times.  She didn't do anything bad, but she was avoiding by bending her head or dropping her head. No matter the reason, the response is the same: patience, and stick to what I'm asking her, until she makes the right choice--no matter how long it takes.

After five or ten minutes, she made the right choice and we moved on to doing the same thing at the trot--which, of course, makes it more difficult to stay in your power posture.  And, I will add, that when Leah isn't balanced, the saddle isn't balanced.  I used to think the saddle rolled because it wasn't tight enough, but Regina says it's because her spine isn't balanced and it's rotating the saddle.  When she's further trained and collected/balanced, she said, I won't have the slippage anymore.  But for now, that is one more thing making it difficult to stay balanced in my seat.

I found an interesting website that explains it and had a diagram that shows what, I think, Regina is asking me to do: Horse Collaberative "Sitting On A Horse In Balance."


I tend to lean forward.  The article above had this to say, which I find very interesting and accurate. From The Horse Collaberative: "Sitting On a Horse in Balance" Follow the link to read the whole article.:

"The Error of Leaning Forward

The reaction which takes us away from finding the correct position on a horse is our instinct to lean forward when we feel the movement of the horse underneath us. This is probably because, when we feel the power of the horse coming through the horse’s back from the haunches, our impulse is to disconnect ourselves from the movement by taking the weight out of the back of the seat-bones, so that we no longer feel the power coming through into our own body.


It is also a natural human reflex to crouch into the fetal position in order to protect ourselves when we are under threat. When sitting on a horse, this defensive position equates to tipping the upper body forwards, so that the rider’s shoulder are in front of their pelvis.


The problem with leaning forward when sitting on a horse, is again that it makes us lose our connection with the horse’s body, because we lift our weight out of the back of the seatbones – the place where we can best connect with the ‘engine’ of the horse’s movement: the haunches. It is only when we become one with the horse’s power that we can be in full security on a horse, and be in harmony with the movement.


Leaning forward, even slightly in front of the vertical, tilts the rider’s pelvis onto the pubic bone, which is not the right orientation to be able to follow and engage with the movement. In this position, the seat-bones point backwards against the direction of the horse’s energy, and the rider’s lower back is hollow, exposing the vertebrae to compression, with the impact of the movement, and possible damage.


… re-balancing a horse with the seat comes from the leverage we create by raising the front of the pelvis into suspension off the saddle by way of engaged core muscles.


The other reason leaning forward does not help the balance of horse and rider is that the horse already carries around two-thirds of his weight on the forehand (front legs), which is fine for his natural balance without a rider, but when the rider adds their weight, already sitting further towards the front-end than the haunches, the forehand becomes overloaded, and the horse, out of balance, ‘runs downhill’. Leaning forward brings the rider’s center of gravity towards the horse’s forehand, aggravating the situation."
 It's all food for thought.  My next lesson is tomorrow.

13 comments:

  1. nice post. I think all horses in their training go through a phase of 'do I really have to?' which makes total sense from their prospective.

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    1. Yes, I agree--and maybe more so when you train more often--until they get a work ethic and settle in. That was her second lesson in three days--not exactly a tough schedule, but more than she's used to.

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  2. Ah, yes, the importance of sitting straight. It is amazing how much difference that makes. Lucy rushes like mad if you lean forward even a nano-bit. She's been a great teacher for me and my power posture (love that).

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    1. The same thing happens with Leah--she starts to take off when I lean forward. Also, I think I'm more nervous on her--unsure--and I tend to overreact faster by leaning forward--which aggravates the situation. It is a great teaching opportunity, as you said. I'm so comfortable with Cowboy, I can sit back and enjoy the ride with my "power posture", but it's good to see how I respond under stress so that I can (hopefully) correct it.

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  3. I love that first photo. You look so happy, something must be going right.

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    1. Ah, thank you. It really does feel right. I'm enjoying it more than I ever would have thought.

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  4. Oh, I'm so happy for you - and Leah!! I can feel your happiness and excitement coming through this post. It really is a lot of fun learning from someone we trust, and who has the patience to help us work through our, and our horse's issues. Love the pics you've posted here, especially the first one (very cool), and the second one where you're beaming. :) I sure hope I can find someone who can help me learn more on Eagle. Rachel did a splendid job of working with Eagle, but she's not the right teacher for me.

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    1. Thank you. I was impressed with that first photo. You can really see how hard she's working with all that steam, and that was only half way through our lesson. I was in awe of her. You're right about teachers--different ones are better for different things. It's not really a one size fits all. I sure hope you find someone you click with. I think you'll love it as much as I do, and I'm interested to watch you!

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  5. Love that 1st photo! Silouhetted in steam... just such a striking image; I hope that you have some of your photos framed & hanging!

    Really great post Linda.

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    1. Thanks. It helped for me to dissect the power posture a bit and see what my goal is and what's getting in the way. I should frame that picture. My husband took it, so all cedit goes to him. :)

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    2. Thanks. It helped for me to dissect the power posture a bit and see what my goal is and what's getting in the way. I should frame that picture. My husband took it, so all cedit goes to him. :)

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  6. I, too, tend to lean forward when I'm unsure OR when I'm trying to get Skeets to move forward. It doesn't work.

    I have to constantly remind myself to sit back on her, which is weird because I've never even thought about it on any other horse before. I still wonder where that fearless rider from my wrangler days wandered off to - I need to find her again :)

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    1. I know what you mean--I think I was sitting back naturally with Cowboy, but with Leah I'm anticipating, trying to control, and, basically, getting ready to grab some mane, as they say! All things I should not be doing.

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.