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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:53 pm 
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Here's number 2...

I wanted to do one that illustrated some other management methods for when it doesn't feel secure enough completely on the loose...
And Footprint obliged this second day by being quite energetic..
I used my lovely JPG saddle.. which I suddenly discovered is REALLY slippery! It's great for allowing you to just hang, or slip :funny: into the right position, but not very secure at all for liberty lunging on a frisky horse on a windy day! So it was a perfect opportunity to play round with filming ways of keeping myself sunny side up, whilst still gaining the benefit of passenger riding.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlVRukRX_QI

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But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:27 am 
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Karen said:
Quote:
Sue, would you mind if I comment on a couple of observations on your positioning? Just a couple of things I noticed. I hope this is ok (and I pray I'm not blowing hot air...I think I'm right, but not 100% because, well, we know I'm still learning too).

First, in your second seat lesson video on Footie, I notice that you are sitting up nicely with your head up and chest open, but it looks to me like you might be collapsing your pelvis forward. I'm not sure I have the eye to know for sure though. I wish I was better at it. I could be completely wrong because everyone is built differently.


I don't mind at all. THANKS!!!

Re the "collapsing" of pelvis.
I don't think this is quite the right way to describe what you're seeing.

There are a few factors.

One - I have a naturally VERY overendowed bum when viewed from the side. So even if I were to take ALL the hollow out of my back, I'll still LOOK like I have a hollow back, on casual observation, because there's all this fat and buttock muscle being squeezed up by the saddle. :blush: :sad: Some saddles tend to push my butt up more, because the seat is not long and flat enough to accommodate all of it. :D You probably won't see so much of the same thing you think you're seeing when you look at the vid of me riding in the christs pad, because the sheepskin absorbs all that fat, and all you see is my actually back and pelvic posture. :D

Second. I DID use to be WAY too hollow in the back as well, not just in riding but in everything, and it was getting worse over the years. It wasn't a sagging, collapsing kind of hollow - it's a tight as a bowstring hollow. I'd been told this was just my natural conformation. :sad: Got to the point that I was beginning to think that the day would come that I'd have to give up riding, because it was so hard on my back. But so was going over a bump on the motorcycle...

Deb Bennett's article on female versus male anatomy was a revelation for me, and for a while, it helped to just accept that I needed to sit in a more thigh forward position, to prevent my lower back from being arched beyond equilibrium. This gave me a little flexion ability in both directions. pelvis being able to tilt either forward or backward to absorb shock. A little, but because the legs are forward, the two directional flexion doesn't really "swing" as it should. Pain lessened, but still problematic, because not ideal position.
Then Leigh stepped in with her Psoas advice and VOILA! Pain free for the first time in more than ten years!!!

When I did the exercises regularly, as my psoas stretched and healed, my back actually flattened out, in natural standing posture, remarkably! I LOOK better in a pair of jeans! My bum looks less pronounced!

I've been neglecting the exercises a bit the last few months, and I feel a little tight in my right side. In riding now, my thigh position again has to be a little more forward to prevent my pelvis from overflexing.

Thirdly.. I think overflexing is a more accurate term than collapsing, Collapsing indicates a relaxation of the muscles to the point of postural collapse. While what I'm doing, when you do see my back too hollow, is overtightening in my hips/psoas.

I totally disagree with the person who said (on another list) that seat lessons will fix Psoas problems. It might if it's just a mild lack of stretching. But not when it's at the pain stage.

And fourthly and finally, YES! I was overflexing sometimes that ride as well. My saddle was slippery and Footie was choppy in her stride and kept breaking into a canter. :ieks: So I was quite braced, and gripping with my thighs.

The real "deepening and lengthening" benefit of a "seat lesson" comes when the horse"s stride is even and regular, and the rider can relax down into it without worrying about holding on or controlling the horse. Which is why it's done by lunging a quiet old school horse with her head tied down.. :sad:
I think there still is great benefit to your balance and movement with the horse when you do a passenger lesson in a less than perfectly stable and predictable fashion.. But the long loose legs are best practiced when the horse is smooth and steady.

At the very end, when Footie had smoothed out, my legs are nice and soft. Although I was conciously lifting my thighs off and really stretching them back to try to open up my (right) hip more, so that might have pulled my back a little hollow.. as I'm definitely tighter than ideal again there at the mo.
:D :D

ANyhoooo.. for any watchers out there, a cautionary word: As Karen has so rightly noted, my riding is not (yet! :green: ) perfect.

My video is not intended as a "THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF PERFECT SEAT!"
It's intended simply as an example of ways that we could work on our seat without having to go sit on a poor old school horse. :D

So, any and all comments, positive/negative/helpful/critical welcome!

Thanks Karen!!
:kiss:

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:59 pm 
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Sue, one of the reasons I adore riding with Paul, is that he's very, very capable of seeing what's going on with a rider regardless of body type. I remember thinking once, "how will Paul see anything through all my fat (and I have loads of it) PLUS all the baggy clothing I try to mask it all with?". :huh:

Well he can. I can't. I can see when someone is leaning forward or looking down or hunching over, but when someone is sitting up nice and tall as you do, I can't really fathom the inner workings of the hips/pelvis, and I can't see tension or no tension in the thighs or legs. So that is why I said maybe, perhaps, etc and threw in caveats because we know I'm about the last one who can critique anything because I'm still learning.

This discussion will be really good for me...further training for me in what to think about in myself as I ride, and maybe just maybe a little eye training for seeing other riders.

More later...I have to run to the stable. Oh and as a reminder to myself, I want to also mention what I learned in my very first yoga class and how amazingly similar the positioning is to what I've been learning about the seat (again, not that I'm getting it right yet!)!

:kiss: :kiss: :kiss:

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:42 pm 

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Sue,
I love this video. I saw some of the same things you mentioned in your self-analysis. And I think you are right, you both relaxed towards the end more and more.
I was wondering if your German Shepherd was driving your horse a bit most of the time, not hard, but just enough to keep the tension up a tiny bit and make it harder for both of you to relax? It seemed to me that when the dog was preoccupied with something else the horse's expression changed but would have to see it again to make sure. German Shepherds herd without eye and it seems less obvious but they still use their bodies very purposefully.
I could almost feel what you were describing as I have had the same issues with arching my back sometimes. I have heard of some very good results from a friend who used Mark Rashid's info on his DVD "Sitting the trot". It talks about the hips doing this elliptical following movement that will loosen up all kinds of muscles, incl. the psoas muscle. I was planning to order it soon.
Where can I find Leigh's explanation of the psoas muscle?
I think doing passenger lessons this way is great and in one way even better without doing it the traditional way because the horse can give so much more feedback. It makes us look worse in comparison but it will help us become better riders.
We just got a camera yesterday that allows us to take real videos. I can't wait to record something longer like your last clip. Just wish I had a nice, flat, fenced-in arena to do it in.

Birgit


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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:28 am 
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Reading this whole thread with extreme interest :D though I haven't taken any videos of myself yet. :blush:

windhorsesue wrote:
I DID use to be WAY too hollow in the back as well, not just in riding but in everything, and it was getting worse over the years. It wasn't a sagging, collapsing kind of hollow - it's a tight as a bowstring hollow. I'd been told this was just my natural conformation. :sad:

I have had this exact issue all my life. I was told the same thing. See below...

windhorsesue wrote:
Deb Bennett's article on female versus male anatomy was a revelation for me, and for a while, it helped to just accept that I needed to sit in a more thigh forward position, to prevent my lower back from being arched beyond equilibrium. This gave me a little flexion ability in both directions. pelvis being able to tilt either forward or backward to absorb shock. A little, but because the legs are forward, the two directional flexion doesn't really "swing" as it should. Pain lessened, but still problematic, because not ideal position.

And this is where I find myself currently... just read the article a month ago. HUGE eye opener![/quote]

windhorsesue wrote:
Then Leigh stepped in with her Psoas advice and VOILA! Pain free for the first time in more than ten years!!!


[color=#008080]! There's more? Care to elaborate??? ;) :D Y'know... for us newbies. I honestly don't even know where that IS in my body (anatomy went in one ear and out the other in my HS days unless it was horse related). Google time.

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:40 am 
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THanks guys,
Yeah.. if I really wanted to show off how great my seat is, I wouldn't have used this footage. :blush: LOl. It doesn't show me off at my best. :funny: But what I hope is that people see it and think, oh! I can try that. And maybe faults help with that! :funny: It's a process!

Karen, I have to tell you another little secret too! :blush: I was purposefully trying out your bookshelf across the chest imagery, and it made me a bit taller in the chest, but also a bit stiffer - not the fault of the imagery, but of my stiffness when I tried for it too hard. It also tended to pull my lower back into hollow. (Although I loved the way it helped me turn corners!)

I have another exercise that I do when I'm riding, which is kind of the opposite: I tuck my chin a little, curl my back under slightly and lengthen it, raising my self "up" by my "withers" , at the same time lengthening my psoas- it's my "self-collection" pose. Did you end up getting that little psoas and riding book? It talks about the twin engagement of psoas and hyoid, in both horse and rider.

Anyway, this exercise doesn't make me look so tall and military from the front, but it really helps my internal positioning, and I often find when I do it that Sunrise will mirror it, lifting up from the withers, tucking her chin, lengthening her back and strengthening it from the inside.(It's the "cough" posture :funny: )
It feels GREAT on my back, so strong and relaxed and easy. I exaggerate it sometimes to get the stretch. But I think it probably doesn't look so externally impressive. I look like an old Mexican.

Anyway.. in this vid, I was conciously trying to use the bookshelf, and I found it very difficult to keep my lower back from hyperflexing at the same time.. I could, a little but it took a lot of concentration and effort, which I think always will translate to stiffness.

One way I have of working through this kind of stiffness when doing specific body exercises
( I use it in exercises with students too) is to EXAGGERATE the opposites, then settle into the middle. So, in this exercise, I would deliberately exaggerate the bookshelf image to the full extent possible while still doing it correctly, the switch to a different imagery and exercise, such as loin curling and stretching through the outer back in an exaggerated way..slouching, alternating back and forth for a while, and then settling into a relaxed position somewhere in between.

(I have another exercise I do like this teaching students sitting trot, where they deliberately lift each knee in turn with the horses shoulder lift. It allows their other leg and hip to let go and move, so they don't bounce at all on the horse. This of course makes their seat shallow though.. so after ten steps of that, I get them to change to pushing their alternate heels down towards the ground with each step for ten.. which deepens their seat again but makes them stiff in the butt, then back to lifting, then pushing.. then it will be ten steps lift, ten steps push, ten steps relax, ten steps lift, ten steps push, ten steps relax. Usually, by this stage, they suddenly find they can sit the trot easily and in balance! The Relax phase will be their "normal" sitting trot.)

Anyway.. back to the subject at hand. I think it's good for me to do this bookshelf exercise and stretch up tall sometimes, but for me, best as an "exaggeration". I need (at the moment anyway) to focus a lot more on my pelvic engagement, and this exercise I find hinders more than helps that problem if overdone. I tend to be quite upright and have good natural "loose" upper body posture anyway (if it's tight it usually means I'm holding my shoulders too far back and need to drop them forward a little) so I feel I can afford to just relax from my shoulders, drop my chin a little, and focus on really engaging my psoas/ pelvis instead. (FUnny thing is, Sunrise has, naturally, similar conformation to me.. lol, so seems it's good for her too. She is naturally very upright and strong in the shoulders, and hollow in the back.,.. so also needs lots of curling to strengthen her loins and prevent stiffness in her back. )

Something that was really brought home to me by reading Deb Bennet's built for riding article, was that different people sometimes need to do quite opposite things to improve their posture, depending on their own conformation. People who roll their pelvis back and slouch need to be drilled in the classic shoulders back, chest out posture, which will help to correct their pelvic positioning to more upright. It lengthens them through the front. People like me who tend to have their pelvis pulled forward (more commonly women, but not always - my dad was EXACTLY the same build and posture as me.. and suffered lower back pain all his life!) will probably suffer from being told to sit up straight, chest forward shoulders back. They need exercises and imagery to help them lengthen through the back.

Lengthening through the back ( I think) will usually automatically release and lengthen psoas muscles at the same time, which you'll need to do to keep the long, relaxed leg. When lengthening through the front, it's common for the psoas to shorten and bunch at the same time. (Try it sitting on your chair, and you'll probably feel the front inner thigh slightly tense and lift. So, it's important when you're doing this, to also be aware of relaxing and lengthening the psoas at the same time. Possibly easy if you have a correct "upright" pelvis, or a tipped backward slouch, but very difficult if you have tipped forward pelvis, which goes hand in hand with over used psoas muscles.

I would like to do ANOTHER seat exercise.. where I'm not trying to do anything, but relax and move with the horse as I normally do, no stretching up, no stretching down, just sitting straight and hanging loose, and see what you think. I wonder what differences you'll note. I suspect also that part of what your were seeing in my pelvis was the other end of the nice upright position you were seeing on top. :funny:

Once again, Karen :f: :f: :f: :f: :f: I so LOVE being able to discuss this with you. I don't in ANY WAY feel put out with any comments made, or feel that you or anyone else has to "get it right" or face my argument... I don't mind talking about my bustle butt. I live in Taiwan. None of you will ever see me! :funny: Your caveats are always duly noted and appreciated, so critique away! :D
I just want to learn and share about horses! So THANKYOU for your comments. Without them, there would be no discussion.. just me spouting into the ether. "Oh. look at me on my horse!" :funny: Keep "em coming!! :f: :f: :f:

Looking forward to hearing your yoga induced thoughts..

Birgit, of course you're right about the GS! :funny: I was wondering how long it was going to be before someone mentioned him! I wouldn't dare make this video public on youtube! I can just imagine the comments. :roll: :roll: But you're all mostly as mad as I am with horses and dogs.. and chickens.. and ...

"My" GS is a newbie here, only been with us two weeks so horses and he are not quite used to each other yet. I didn't feel he wasdriving her - he's being VERY careful and polite, averting his eyes from her - ah but interesting what you say about herding without eye - but he's just not going to let me get two metres away from him, in case he finds himself back in no-where land again. He's my shadow. (Beloved pet puppy, then on the streets, then a year caged at a holding facility -also the reason he's on best behaviour - although a couple of times he did try out to see if it was an acceptable game to bite her tail.. he's still a pup.)

Anyway, you're right, Footprint is not yet entirely comfortable with his presence so close. :)
However, he was doing the same on the day of the first seat lesson vid. She didn't really like it, but her energy was much more calm and relaxed that day. This day, her energy was more up with the weather, and a few days of regular exercise had got her metabolism going again.

I love Mark Rashid's videos! Don't have that one though. I especially like "finding the try". YESYES>> the elliptical hip movement! The exercises I talked about above will help you to find this. Also there's a useful vid on youtube of someone demonstrating Centred Riding sitting trot on a trampoline. You can practice on the ground without a trampoline too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0c3SHQjKb0

Quote:
I think doing passenger lessons this way is great and in one way even better without doing it the traditional way because the horse can give so much more feedback. It makes us look worse in comparison but it will help us become better riders.

:yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: Yeah! I reckon!

Leigh.. hmm.. I think she first mentioned it to me in an email.. then I went researching..
I'll see if I can dig up where I found the best info.
You'll find some specific riding related info about psoas here:
http://www.zenandthehorse.com/Home.html
Here's a basic article about psoas and back pain which explains how the psoas work.
http://www.ojaihealing.com/2008/07/psoa ... pain.shtml

Now I must get me off to work!

Sue

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I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:56 am 
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Colinde, sorry, just saw your reply.

Well.. you're not the only one not to have heard of psoas.. :roll: Neither had I, neither it seemed had any of the specialists I went to over the course of years, after a heavy job plastering a house left me with a chronic off again on again painful limp.. for fourteen years! :ieks: :roll: I was told by one that I probably had permanent deterioration of the bone in the hip socket! (even though it didn't show on xray. :roll: )

One day, mentioning it to Leigh, she, with her dancers background, said "oh... sounds like you need to do some psoas stretching. So, I went online to research and find out what my psoas actually are, and
YAY! a few months of intensive active and passive stretching and healing exercises, I was relatively pain free for the first time in so long it made me want to cry! (Maybe that's why I look younger Karen!) It also improved my riding enormously.

It seems it's a hugely underdiagnosed problem in our modern day.

Here's another good article. http://ezinearticles.com/?How-the-Psoas ... &id=857586

There's another one, I can't find at the mo.. will dig around later.

There are lots of great vids on youtube of exercises you can do. I just experiment and see which ones work for me. I also had to quit yoga, because my teacher was insisting that I do leg lifts to "strengthen" my psoas, because they were obviously weak! :roll: The opposite of the prob. They're too strong. Right side particularly. Which is why it was going into spasm.

Hope this is helpful!
Maybe I should make a psoas thread somewhere because I think there's probably many of us who suffer from this to some degree..

not now.. work calls!

xx

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I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,

But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:04 am 

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Great info on the psoas muscle. Thanks for the links. :)
I think I'll do some more reading on this. Makes me wonder how many people get back surgery when it's not necessary.


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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:22 pm 
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The following is from a conversation via private messages between Colinde, Leigh, and Sue -- we agreed that we all thought this was interesting enough that it was worth sharing! :)

Colinde wrote:
Quote:
As far as Psoas and riding -- do the stretches really help for your pelvis/seat? I notice my instinct is still to crouch or draw my legs up if the ride gets bumpy in the saddle no matter how much I've stretched.
One person in discussing the Psoas was pessimistic about retraining them or fully relaxing them while doing activities because in his words: they are core muscles hard wired to react and keep the trunk stable, much like blinking or breathing. Automatic. He felt it would be very hard to undo that reflex and "relax" them (except for an obvious case when you engage an opposing muscle group). What are your thoughts on that? This type look into the human body is new to me as I never learned muscle stuff or anatomy in my riding, skating or dance. (a shame I know)


Sue wrote:
Quote:
I think what you're talking about, pulling up, when riding is due to two things. One is psychological - fear. Fear is usually fact based. It doesn't just come out of nowhere. Yes, I agree that it is not easy to change the way that we use our muscles, but I totally disagree that it's impossible.

As you stretch and learn to use your muscles in other ways in controlled situations, you develop more skill. That skill will allow you to overcome some of the fear, if you work on it consciously. The facts have changed. And this needs to be drawn to the attention of your subconscious caretaker, the fear systems of your brain. As you practice in controlled situations, you will also become more and more fluent, and the response that you practice will become more likely to pop up in uncontrolled situations. The more you bring your conscious attention to the task, the faster it will become an unconscious reaction. We're never too old to work on these things.

So, yes yes and yes! Psoas stretching will help seat enormously. Having the full range of motion will allow the ABILITY to stretch down and be fluid in the hips, even if at times you don't use it because other brain systems are overiding the physical response.

Yes the psoas are core muscles hard wired to keep the body stable.. but what is the best way to keep the body stable? If a particular muscle is weak, other muscles will automatically compensate. Someone else with those same muscles strong will automatically react differently. What I mean is, it's not a given. Muscle response is instinctive, but it automatically takes into account relevant strengths and weaknesses.

Example, someone whose body knows it's ill equipped to throw out an arm and catch a fast moving object, will instinctively duck. Another person whose body is confident in it's ability will automatically catch.
So, if my body know that it doesn't have sufficient movement in the hips to absorb movement and shock a certain way, it will automatically move in a different way to compensate.

I had an experience last year that really showed me this. Very occasionally, Sunrise moves like a lit rocket. It happens rarely, because she's really a very steady personality. But when it does happen, WOW! Lightning speed in half a second. It happened once a few years back when I wasn't ready and bam! I was on my arse in the sand. When I know that she's in "the mood" I ride carefully, prepared for it, and keep a tighter hold on her and myself than normal. My reaction, when she does suddenly become supercharged has been to shut it down. Which means shut my own body down. Luckily, she's a super well trained girl, and this response works immediately, and I'm safe on board. But it wouldn't if she wasn't. This physical reaction is the best I can do with my current level of fitness and flexibility. But it's not THE BEST method, period. If she DIDN"T respond, I would most likely come off, because I'm tense, braced and moving against.

So.. I've been running, increasing my core strength, stretching, getting a full range of movement back. Then I went to China, and rode and rode and rode.. Many miles on a few different horses.. all half wild and with wildly unpredictable responses. Got thrown.. a few times. Kicked myself, because I handled it completely the wrong way, as I would on Sunrise, and of course, it didn't work at all on a "real" horse. I should have relaxed and sat it out..

Anyhoooooo... Sometime after I came back, I was riding Sunrise, on a loose rein, ambling along, and suddenly she went rocket and propelled herself forward and sideways into the air. I didn't shut her down.. Without thinking, I just rode with her, left the reins completely loose and laughed!

And my body had the ability to do it, just like when I was a kid. My legs went long instead of pulling up, my core muscles took up the movement, and my upper body counterbalanced.
And when she stopped, I thought about it, very happy, and shocked. I realized that my automatic response had changed because I was FIT! My body had trust in itself to do the right thing. And it just did!

That got me really thinking. I realized that a lot of the "fear" that we develop as we get older, and we think is a natural part of aging and becoming more sensible, is actually in recognition of the fact that we have let ourselves go. We haven't retained the physical capabilities to handle those challenges, so we develop other strategies. Our bodies and brains recognize these as being not quite so effective, and deliver them up with the requisite side-helping of fear/good sense/caution. And I realized that I'd been making a lot of excuses for my lack of fitness...denial. And I realized that if I could get fit and stay fit, my riding would automatically be better as my body gained confidence in it's ability.

So.. about the mans assertion - I agree that the psoas may be "hard-wired" to keep the trunk stable. But the psoas are a strange muscle. They go over a "pulley system". They can maintain tension in both directions. "Engaging" the psoas as talked about in riding, is a different action to tightening the psoas to pull up the thigh and tighten the back. If your core is not strong, and your psoas tight, then probably your body will choose this less effective method of stabilization. But if your psoas are toned and flexible, and your core strong, then your body will probably choose a more effective method of stabilization.

I say keep up the good work! It will have a positive effect!
Sue


Leigh wrote:
Quote:
What Sue said!


Two additional thoughts:

First, it is reflexive to try to curl up when we are tense on a horse -- basically human instinct to head for a fetal position and protect your vital organs. Of course, that disconnects us from the horse and just makes it worse! Since my big spill off of Stardust a year plus ago, I've been having to rework this (again, dammit) because it's still strong instinct -- the fear stuff is definitely still there. (Went out for a ride on a new friend's draft horses a couple of weeks ago and was a frigging ping pong ball as we were trotting...sigh...we were bareback, I was on a horse I'd just met, in the snow, out on trails I didn't know, so it wasn't a completely irrational response but SIGH!)

But -- here's the deal.

Sue's descriptions of how she and Sunrise go together with speed and lightness -- which I translate to softness, relaxation, etc. -- -- are gorgeous and is is exactly how to work speed. We also have an instinct to get tense when we try to get fast, but soft muscles actually can move faster than tense ones. (Think the really fast feet movement in ballet, for example -- you can't do a fast bourée if you're tense...) And the speed/fear connection is clear, I think...

I think here's where stretching the psoas gets important when you're working through that instinct to curl up -- of course we hold residual tension in our psoas as the guy you mentioned suggests, and we're never going to completely relax them, especially while standing. However, when you're astride a horse and that instinct to curl into yourself kicks in, I'm willing to bet that instinct/energy is coming first from your lower belly -- which is both your emotional fear center, and the part of your body (other than your head) that you're hardwired to protect. And the tension in your belly moves outwards through your psoas muscles and down into your legs -- creating a perfect storm of tension. If, however, you have been stretching and learning to focus on relaxing your psoas, you have a chance at stopping that loop. It's easier in a moment of tension (if you've been working at it, building fluency in it) to release the extra tension in your psoas and let that feeling spread to your belly than vice versa -- you can trick your emotional center into relaxing, essentially, and that softness can "talk" down through your legs and up into your torso.

And, I've discovered, when I'm working this, relaxing my psoas also opens the way for me to feel my glutes to relax -- in fact, as I think about it, I think the psoas relaxation is maybe the key to finding a centaur seat -- if you try to relax your glutes but don't know that you need to (or how to) relax your psoas muscles, you're never going to find a truly soft seat. (Which of course is what we're all looking to find so we are moving with the horse and can ride anything become the movement is working through us not against us.)

So, yes, the stretches are helpful with riding, I believe. Not necessarily directly but because it builds a different intellectual and physiological ability to find softness through your whole pelvis/trunk. (It's this connection, incidentally, that brought the psoas into my awareness in the dance world -- working with teachers who believed that this was one of the important doorways into really having mastery over your whole body and were accordingly obsessed.)

And, I have to add, in amused response to skeptic man, we never lose residual tension in many of our muscle groups, but that doesn't mean that we don't work to figure out how to relax them. Learning to relax your neck, for example, doesn't mean that suddenly your head is flopping like a woman who just got those neck extender rings removed...and it also doesn't mean that it can't make a huge difference in your body and life even though that doesn't happen. I think in many ways the proof is in the pudding with what you are experiencing with your period -- obviously, this is allowing your body to find some equilibrium that it had struggled with. People can retrain how fast their heart beats -- of course they can retrain muscle groups!

Anyway, serious coolness! So glad to hear this conversation was helpful -- little did I know all those years ago while groaning under the fixations of dance teachers and the psoas that it would circle back around and be so relevant somewhere else...

Leigh


Sue wrote:
Quote:
Yeah! What Leigh said! Like the lower belly connection.

And a little more.. I think that stretching out tight psoas is also directly beneficial to riding as well. The improvement in my trot WITH stirrups was exponential when I could release that sticky balled up right hip. Likewise a right lead canter. My body previously just wouldn't go into a position that was comfortable for my horse. Now she's ambidextrous again!

This should all be in a thread somewhere where it might be helpful to someone else..not buried in private message.


Colinde wrote:
Quote:
Sure. Go ahead. Sometime I am not sure about cluttering the forum since I often have ALOT of questions. Body anatomy and awareness in general with riding is something I've seen go severely under-taught with riding. So this stuff is very cool...

Everything you guys point out makes alot of sense. The info on Psoas was taken from many various medical sites and one or two yoga sites, seeing the little boxes most medical articles seem to think in - it figures the ANDers would put everything together instead of looking at one small piece of the issue.

I definitely have alot of work to do on my balance and seat. Have thought about starting a topic on dealing with a seat-impediment issue while riding. As I'm coming to realize this is the reality I'm facing currently. (that tailbone thing..)

Thanks though fir alllll the stuff to think about.


So, there we are! Sorry -- my copying apparently lost all of the smileys that were in these, but imagine them where you think they should go... 8)

I totally agree with Sue's points about the direct benefits of stretching, and even more so now that I've found what she was writing about it up thread here.

I think this is a really great conversation!!!

Thanks, all.
:f:

Leigh


Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:30 pm 
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Quote:
"how will Paul see anything through all my fat (and I have loads of it) PLUS all the baggy clothing I try to mask it all with?".


Apart from the fact that you are not fat...
Instructors, or in any case I, look at the horse anyway, not at the rider. As the horse mirrors and/or compensaites the rider because of biomecanical laws we look at the horse and then adjust the riders poise and actions, which will in case help the horse to improve his poise and movement.

I suspect therefore the same with Paul :)

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:01 pm 
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Well since I've brought this up again, I should probably mention the seat lesson or two I tried last month with Diego. :) Unfortunately I don't have video but maybe sometime in the future!
I am a fan of the passenger idea too. I think theoretically the idea of not having a set circle or speed/tempo is good for me to learn to adjust, but as Sue also pointed out earlier it makes it really hard to relax and sink DOWN 100% as we sometimes brace due to the unexpected or thinking about controlling the horse.


I let Diego loose with a rope halter and reins looped over my Skito bareback pad handle. I am still having huge problems mentally wrapping my mind around using the stirrups to lighten my seat. I always was either using them nearly 100% with my butt out of the saddle or I was hardly using them at all while in the saddle. I find when I press down into them right now, with my butt still in the saddle, I start having major balance issues. *sigh* So this was done better bareback because I could stretch my legs down.

Several things have improved about my position it seems:

* I hold less tension in my hips since I read the Deb Bennett article about men Vs. women riders and corrected my thighs. I allow my thighs and legs to roll out more but remain relaxed, without gripping. Because of allowing them a more natural outlet from my hip socket I don't have the associated pain or muscle strain anymore. :)

* As a result of the same article my lower back is now more flexible as a make I conscious decision not to 'arch" it so much.
When I do this right my butt stays "glued" to D's back better.

* Another visualization image I came up with has helped me with my lateral balance over D's back (without stirrups) and thus my relaxation/non gripping: The Arch. If I imagine a big arch from my toe, all the way up to the crotch/bum all the way back down to the other toe that is soft but firm & stable, I remain balanced over his back at all times. Unfortunately though when I change the arch by giving a leg aids to D's side the balance often gets thrown off. :huh: So I'm working on that.

* My seat is so much more "free" to do what it needs to do when my upper body is not "heavy" ontop of it! Due to trying not to arch my back I'd gotten into a habit of slumping the chest a bit. Something I NEVER used to do. I recently commented in my journal that I read something on the bio-mechanical dressage page that cautioned NOT to pull your shoulders back using the muscles in between your shoulder blades! A sure fire way to lock everything up including your arms! Yikes :ieks: that is what I'd been doing as that was how I was taught. The solution was "Raise the ribcage up and out beyond the rest of you". And boy does it create a heavenly feel! Soft arms, light, flexible seat. The whole body is free to do as it needs to while the chest and organs stay OFF my poor back and abdomen area that struggles so with these seat lessons. :D

Other random things I notice:

* My pelvis still likes to 'rock" forward during the motion of D's trot. Especially when I am "going with him". It tilts forward, then back, then forward...etc. I'm wondering if this is ok? It feels natural... and I don't bounce (it's relaxed). I still haven't got the independent hips moving forward with his legs deal. Heck I just started doing that 4 months ago. It's all VERY new to me.

* I still grip with my thighs, creating a bridge over Diego's back and no doubt pinching his ribs and back muscles up there (my thighs are extremely strong from years of riding like this), when I feel the need. (fast gait, going up a hill, getting off his back with no stirrups etc) I'm trying to break it as a habit but I'm learning it's a built in defense mechanism now... see below.


* This leads me to my last observation about myself. I realize now, after struggling through this seat stuff for several months, finally getting the correct IDEA and trying to apply it, that I do have an impediment that is going to hinder me from having a 100% functional correct seat part of the time. My previous surgeries to the soft tissue around my tailbone that I have mentioned before. The incision is still not healed and will not be unless I were to get a 3rd specialized surgery and this is an issue I have lived with for nearly 6 years now. I had not realized how much it has changed my seat and in fact whole body's approach to "moving" with the horse.
If Diego is even, steady, and slow I can sit the gaits like a pro and it's wonderful! The problem lies in the fact that he often chooses to shoot off into a faster or rougher version of his gait due to his lack of strength and balance as well as composure. I found out the hard way last weekend that these bursts... can be extremely painful to me and cause me to become a tense little bouncing toad on his back immediately following a burst of speed. :ieks: Normally my pelvis and hip joint would open... shooting forward with his back, and my abs and trunks muscles would allow my upper body to follow and eventually catch up, but this movement guarantees that the contact area of my bum and his back change momentarily - my pelvis would rock backwards and more pressure would be placed directly... and squarely right there in the back of the glutes. Right where it sends really shooting pain signals. :sad: Causing huge defense reactions.

I've got so many built in defense mechanisms in my body because of this I can't count them anymore (even to the point of tucking my bum in crowds to avoid someone bumping into me, which yes, can hurt like the dickens.) Any motion that disturbs the glutes bothers the incision. It is slightly better nowdays, but after 6 years I have only just started to learn how to *walk* properly again (loosen the hips, allow them to swing) and that came after some several hip socket pain. I had become a master of freezing my hips and walking without using my thighs. :ieks:


I have got to find a way to ride comfortably for me AND Diego and I'm hoping there are some solutions out there as this is definitely not ideal but also not fixable. (unless the section is miraculously able to be healed 1005, which I have been trying to no avail) Currently as I have experimented, adopting a more forward seat is the only way to ensure I won't have pain while riding. But that is only done properly with a saddle, and I ride bareback alot currently. (one of the reasons I wanted a saddle agaiN!)

I was not sure whether to take up space here posting about it or to start another thread, so that's up to the mods but I did want to throw the idea out there. There are good riders who adopt a forward seat... maybe there is a way for me to stay fairly soft and become a better rider even if I can't sit back too often? :blonde:

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:11 pm 
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An interesting challenge, Collinde~

No, though I could be wrong, I don't think you can go in the direction you wish with your seat with your pain issue. Sooo.....

Take mechanical means.

You'll want to kill me when I say this. BUT - get hold of any old saddle that you can destroy. Cut a piece out below your tailbone. See if it works.

The old U.S. Cavalry McClellands had no cover down the throat...the center was open from pommel to cantle. For good reason. Of course it was theoretically to accommodate male anatomy, but it might well apply in your situation.

I have to wonder if during recuperation from your surgery you did not have to sit on a donut ring for a time. The principle might work for this.

If it looks weird, you might go to a seat woolly to cover it so the public isn't in on your saddle modification.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:54 pm 
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Donald Redux wrote:
I have to wonder if during recuperation from your surgery you did not have to sit on a donut ring for a time. The principle might work for this.

No, I didn't use a doughnut pillow or any type of apparatus because actually for this very specific issue it does not work. :sad: Very unfortunate. It is actually not pressure on the tailbone at all that causes any pain. It is very specifically pressure of any sort on the butt cheeks (sorry for lacking the sophisticated name :roll: ) themselves, as it displaces them. Something as small as simply bending a knee and cocking a hips slightly while standing was enough to displace them, stress the incision and cause pain. The only comfortable sitting I could do during recovery was on a toilet because I could sit and balance on the back of my thighs without anything affecting the glutes. (I don't think there's a saddle that would allow me to do the same :funny: )

<really boring and gross explanation follows>
The surgery was for a pilonidal syst if anyone is familiar. It's hard without a diagram to show, but maybe 3" below the top of the cheeks a 2" long incision was made directly between them. They core drilled almost 2" deep into the tissue moving towards the tailbone and extracted it all - the wound was to fill up with scar tissue. Oddly these things are supposed to heal within 8 weeks. :roll: Yeah right. The reason I've had 2 surgeries on it is because of the location obviously any small movement affects the incision and delays healing. It had split open again (VERY painful) twice and they did a second surgery to reopen and try to get the healing process started again. This time the surgeon even worked with me to try and find alternative health options. He found an alge treatment that was supposed to help. The wound had to be packed daily for months on end to keep the opening from closing before the scar tissue filled in. After 2 years total, 2 surgeries... one of which they STITCHED it closed (ow...my first stitches, lovely) and it tore open AGAIN 3 months later he told me I would have to be sent to a plastic surgeon for a skin graft/artistic collaboration with 2 doctors because there was just not enough skin to be able to fill in and cover the constantly moving area. In the meantime I got a job and my own insurance and after that the surgery got put on the back burner. Money and jobs have not allowed to delve into this again... especially since I can't afford being out of work (unable to sit and thus drive) for months on end. :sad: Granted I started riding again whenever I could in 2 point seat about 6 months after the first surgery. ;) Gradually I got where I could sit back down in the saddle, but it had to be my Wintec with the more shallow seat. It was several years before I could stand sitting in a deep seated dressage saddle again. I still dislike them.
The incision is not very deep anymore, 1/2 inch at most and maybe the surface area of the tip of a woman's index or pinki finger.

EDIT: here is an illustrated diagram ~ http://www.healthinset.com/wp-content/u ... 58x300.jpg
The hole left would is positioned towards the bottom third of the box in the picture. Pretty low. Very inconvenient location.

The skin cannot cover this area and heal normally nor should it, so it is raw. I do have to be careful about infection but I'm very very meticulous and infections have been next to none. Often I can be active nowdays, although pressing on the glutes hurts. I can't comfortably sleep on my back... or rock backwards like in yoga classes. Sometimes I will over do it though... walking...running... and the incision will tear more, or it will become irritated and drain.

I think I had convinced myself I could simply learn to train myself out of those defense mechanisms and become a relaxed rider again since there is no pain when I'm sitting up straight. :sad: I rode a fair amount last week though and all this 'trying to have a correct seat' apparently was too much for my body. The incision is now angry again and I'm sitting here typing this in my typical defensive posture (lower back super arched as to take all the sitting pressure off the glutes and to move the center of gravity in the chair forward towards the thighs), along with daily discomfort and drainage (it does that when it's angry). I'm alittle depressed as reality has kinda smacked me over the head with a frying pan.

On the upside this could be an opportunity to learn about alternative ways to be a soft, comfortable rider when physical impediments are in the way of "correct" position. :f: (I hope)

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:52 pm 
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First, OH MAN, Colinde, that sounds incredibly painful. I am in awe of your ability to push through it to do any riding, let alone worrying about a correct seat! You are amazing!

Then -- a couple of weeks ago I was out doing a little ride on a new friend's Percheron -- she has two, and she was riding the other guy. Seven years ago she was driving them with a brand new manure spreader and they geeked and bolted -- she ended up getting thrown and the manure spreader landed on her, crushing her pelvis.

Like you, she decided that this wasn't going to stop her, and so she still rides them.

The reason I bring this up is that we were talking about her riding and she said that she'd found that she could do anything she wanted as long as she kept her belly and seat soft.

I'm thinking that you're going to find what feels right for you -- the point of a good seat is to connect you to the horse and have a conversation with your body with his body with the least amount of interference possible, so you are hearing each other without extraneous noise.

Whatever positions your body needs to find to get there are the right ones -- obviously, if you are hitting this wound or even being worried about hitting it, there's no way you're going to find the relaxed softness that you're striving for. I'd be focused on that -- how can you find the softest way to come to a reasonably straight line from top of head to heel that works with your body and its needs and allows you to follow Diego's movement as if you're originating it with him? That's, I believe, the "correct" seat for you.

Have you thought about sitting on Diego as a belly dance? I know from the few classes I've taken it's all about finding softness and flow of energy through your pelvis out to the rest of your body... I think that might be fun to play with.

And dang it, woman, I hope you find a way to heal! I can only begin to imagine how tough that is to navigate...

Again, I bow to you! :bowdown:
:giveflower: for you.

:kiss:
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Seat Lessons
PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:46 am 
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The picture becomes clearer.

And the answer as well. You are, of course already experimenting with it and doing it.

I taught hunt seat for years. Of course we sat down, and of course we allowed the back to straighten rather than remain hollowed as in jump/two point position.

Many student would though maintain the hollowed back yet ride very well with it. I never asked them to do otherwise if that worked for them and the horse.

Why not continue to refine the very seat you already have experience and practice with and make it work for you?

If you are seeking greater stability and the most stable platform look to the lower leg, knee down. If you were taught the seat that grew out of Caprilli's work, ala Vladimir Littauer you know the essentials, and you see it in international competition in the very best riders.

They drop the heel, pronate the ankle, (takes conditioning of tendons, stretching the achillies) and use the angle of the leather to create a triangle of tension. This creates the stable platform. Allow your toes to be out as far as is comfortable and coordinate with your thighs, when you are in three point for that relief you seek.

As long as you maintain the lower leg configuration you will have a very stable seat, you will have all the flexibility within a limited range (keeping the glutes from rotating under) that you will need to do very good riding I think.

A more intimate issue will be, of course, the configuration of your female anatomy against the saddle. Some females are comfortable rotated forward, some not. That may be a different sort of problem and not one I'm familiar with as a personal experience. When I competed I rode with genitalia aloft, as it were, confined by an athletic supporter keeping the jewels isolated from the saddle. In effect I rode more as a female might in contact with the saddle and pelvis. Not quite the same, but similar.

If this isn't a problem for you then you have the problem under some control.

Ride on your thighs, taking up the pressue a bit, and lowering you center of gravity into the lower leg as I've suggested.

You can, in some riders, see this lower leg triangle of tension (by this I do not mean strain - it's no more tension, in fact less, than one feels over a jump).

I've noticed in recent years that bronc riders and reining stock horse people have started to take this leg position up, modified for a western saddle. I used it myself when I rode western and still do, for the most secure stablity and security of seat possibly. Even at 75 I still ride some rank horses occasionally. So far, I stay topside despite their occasional determination for me to not.

While it may seem arrogant of me, I do wish this would become adopted by all riding disciplines and schools. Things for the horse and the rider would so much improve. It is no more difficult to learn and get into condition for than two point work.

Best, Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake.

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~~~~~~~~~
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