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View Full Version : The woes of tight hips...(new vids post 71 - be gentle lol!)



Reddfox
Jul. 26, 2011, 10:55 PM
Through much discussion - I have come to realize that my long torso is not the issue and it is in fact, my tight hips and lower back that are the main culprits. Thanks COTHers for the sharp eyes and great advice!
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Hi, I'm a dressage rider and I have a long torso. I have been working tirelessly on my position for 2 years now (before that, I rode H/J.) I have made a lot of progress with my teacher and his fantastic school horses. I have even "graduated" to riding his Andalusian stallion in lessons. I have gone from "the worst tummy trot" that my trainer has ever seen, to learning how to collect from my seat and back and I have been playing with passage and learning canter pirouettes and tempis.

However, I still collapse in my back, especially in the canter. I envy short torsoed riders and their strong backs. They look so elegant. Am I doomed to always appear a bit loose in the sitting trot? I'm together, I'm effective- and I wouldn't be able to effectively ask for passage if I wasn't using my back correctly, yet in videos- there always appears to be more movement than I want.

In the canter, I have come a long way in retraining the hunter perch. I can sit tall, I can collect from my seat and back, yet invariably- I give... Just a little bit, just below my rib cage. And every time, that Cadillac of a stallion leans on me and the work goes to hell. I can regroup, I can fix it... But I can't stop it yet.

At this level, it's tiny nuances that make a difference, and I want to lick this giving in the back in a bad way.

So, fellow long-torsoed COTHers, how have you strengthened your back and taught yourself not to give in that spot just below your ribs? Core strength is not an issue for me... I'm almost too strong and it counter-acts my back muscles. Are there targeted excercises to help over come this less than ideal rider conformation?? Help! :lol:

mjhco
Jul. 26, 2011, 11:16 PM
As a person with a long torso and short legs.

Get over it and deal with it.

I sit on an exercise ball at work all day. Helps strengthen EVERYTHING.

I do pilates.

I do yoga.

Velvet
Jul. 26, 2011, 11:44 PM
You can work out as much as you want, but you will always have more wiggle. It has nothing to fo with short backs being stronger. It has everything to do with absorbing energy over a longer distance--meaning your torso. You will never look like a short torso rider, but you can still have a beautiful seat and quiet hands, etc.

Do not obsess over it too much. :)

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 10:17 AM
I guess that my post ended up sounding more whiney than I meant it to be. I'm not sitting in a dark room crying "poor me..." all the time :lol: I had a lesson yesterday and I had just watched the video of it and was frustrated with what I was seeing. I think it's 90% habit and 10% strength - but, I want to have my position be as good as it can be.

Velvet, the statement about energy being absorbed over longer distances makes sense - and that does come into play. The other part - about giving in my back, I'm hoping someone has suggestions for exercises that target the low back area and to help connect my back.

mjhco, I do have an exercise ball at work - it does make a big difference. I do yoga - have not tried pilates yet.

alto
Jul. 27, 2011, 10:54 AM
You might also try the Back On Track back support (I believe there are a few styles) & see if that makes a difference - BOT usually offers a 30day "trial" period on their products (check with the shop though as they may want you to contact BOT directly if the shop is not a "dealer").

raff
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:04 AM
''At this level, it's tiny nuances that make a difference, and I want to lick this giving in the back in a bad way.''

Seriously, after two years dressage riding,tiny nuances are probably not what will make the difference.:lol:

Eohwen
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:16 AM
definitely recommend pilates. I too have a long torso, and the strengthening pilates has provided for my back and core have made a big difference in my riding.

Velvet
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:24 AM
definitely recommend pilates. I too have a long torso, and the strengthening pilates has provided for my back and core have made a big difference in my riding.

Agreed, they can make a big difference in all body types, but to the OPs point, they will ALWAYS have more movement when looking at video, etc. It has nothing to do with how effective you are, though. I hate it when people get hung up on some idea of perfection that does not take body type/conformation into account. Kind of like the toes pointing exactly forward or having people sitting with their pelvis at a specific angle. Um, not everyone can do that and be effective. It then becomes a matter of sitting pretty, but maybe one rider is more perched, has a cranked leg with little effect because of the closing of the hips and locking them so they can't sit right.

You need to work with each rider and their body type. Just as each horse is different and while some standards stand, you can't expect a long backed horse or low necked horse to look like a compact horse with an uphill build and neck that comes up and out. You can collect them and they can do the harder work, but a TB will never look like a Lip!

meupatdoes
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:36 AM
''At this level, it's tiny nuances that make a difference, and I want to lick this giving in the back in a bad way.''

Seriously, after two years dressage riding,tiny nuances are probably not what will make the difference.:lol:

Considering that she is working on passage, canter pirouettes, and tempis "after two years dressage riding," I suspect that her position is pretty correct already.

OP -I have quite a long torso as well but I won't be of much help as it has never bothered me or been commented upon by my instructors. I do a lot of "bigger trot/littler trot/bigger trot/littler trot" and try to get that response solely from seat without relying on hand or leg; seems to help the horse go througher and me sit with a quieter, better influence through my seat and back.

Jokers Wild
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:53 AM
Yoga and Pilates combined with strength training 3x/week will do wonders for your torso. I'm not talking body-builder training but regular get everything toned and strong training. You really need the combination to help "stabilize" your back (and rest of body). Work with a personal trainer at first to make sure you are doing the correct exercises for your goals - and not just bulking up.

LarkspurCO
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:56 AM
Agreed, they can make a big difference in all body types, but to the OPs point, they will ALWAYS have more movement when looking at video, etc. It has nothing to do with how effective you are, though. I hate it when people get hung up on some idea of perfection that does not take body type/conformation into account. Kind of like the toes pointing exactly forward or having people sitting with their pelvis at a specific angle. Um, not everyone can do that and be effective. It then becomes a matter of sitting pretty, but maybe one rider is more perched, has a cranked leg with little effect because of the closing of the hips and locking them so they can't sit right.

You need to work with each rider and their body type. Just as each horse is different and while some standards stand, you can't expect a long backed horse or low necked horse to look like a compact horse with an uphill build and neck that comes up and out. You can collect them and they can do the harder work, but a TB will never look like a Lip!

Well said. Not to mention how the horse's body affects the rider's leg and position. My draft cross gelding is very wide and my calf meets up against the widest, roundest part of his barrel and pushes my lower leg out. I cannot keep my feet parallel and also keep my leg on my horse.

I don't have this problem on my narrow, flat-sided TB gelding (though I really don't ride him anyway). My mare is even wider than my gelding -- rather like riding a picnic table -- and my toes point out slightly. Having bad hips, knock-knees, scoliosis and a host of war wounds doesn't help much either.

Velvet
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:26 PM
A well known, and well respected, coach used to say, "Do not die in beauty."

This can be applied in a couple of situations. One, that you always want all parts of your training to look pretty so you lose the ugly moments that sometimes have to happen to make things actually look more beautiful in the end. (Working through educating the horse. Not all things are pretty when first attempted, but you don't stop asking and pushing for more.)

For the rider, that means not just sitting there looking pretty, but being an effective rider that flows with the horse. If you watch different top riders you can see differences. Look at Steffen Peters vs Edward Gal. Similar, but some small differences. The differences are sometimes due to the horse's movement, the riders build and combinations of other factors. You don't care about them so much.

At the upper levels, it doesn't matter if your horse is looking beautiful and you are going with and helping your horse (and having aids that are generally invisible). That's what you try to achieve. Not someone else's ideal that might not fit your situation! :D

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:38 PM
''At this level, it's tiny nuances that make a difference, and I want to lick this giving in the back in a bad way.''

Seriously, after two years dressage riding,tiny nuances are probably not what will make the difference.:lol:

I should clarify...not 2 years riding dressage...just 2 years with this particular trainer - and this has been 2 years of twice monthly lessons that focus directly on my position...not learning tricks.


I should also clarify, I'm not hung up on looking elegant, or looking like a perfect statue on the horse. I'm interested in targeting the "give" in my back that makes me less effective in those moments. I want to be as effective as I can, not as pretty as I can:D

I can post some sound scrubbed video if that helps and you can see what i mean in the give.

LarkspurCO
Jul. 27, 2011, 01:05 PM
I can post some sound scrubbed video if that helps and you can see what i mean in the give.

I think you should, and I wouldn't be surprised if I couldn't even notice what you're seeing. Remember, you are your own worst critic.;)

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 01:32 PM
Short video, shows a bit of trot and some changes. Please note that I can't count :lol: This horse is also bouncy as all get out, for the longest time, I thought it'd be impossible to sit to him at all! You can see the give at 1:08 and 1:19 in the changes. When I start to push more with my seat - that's where I tend to give in the back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTfzZe3XzA4

Velvet
Jul. 27, 2011, 01:52 PM
Short video, shows a bit of trot and some changes. Please note that I can't count :lol: This horse is also bouncy as all get out, for the longest time, I thought it'd be impossible to sit to him at all! You can see the give at 1:08 and 1:19 in the changes. When I start to push more with my seat - that's where I tend to give in the back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTfzZe3XzA4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTfzZe3XzA4)

Looks to me like you just need to follow with your hips more. Meaning, actively follow by slightly lifting each side of your pelvis with the horse's motion. Mary Wanless has some good information on this. It comes from more actively following the motion rather than passively allowing the horse to push you. When they do that, you get a lot more movement in the saddle, too.

Start at your base of support. Really think about the drop and rise of each side of the horse at the trot and follow the back muscles. Lift the pelvis on each side that lifts and allow the opposite side to stretch and follow on the down side (side that feels more dropped during the stride). Use the lower abs to do this. You'll feel that you control the motion more this way. Once you get so you are following really well, then you can increase or decrease what you're doing (remember, it's subtle and not noticeable to the other people around you) to give the horse more room for his back when collecting and especially when doing piaffe and passage work.

Small and controlled following. :)

Did any of that make sense? :lol:

raff
Jul. 27, 2011, 03:13 PM
You are brave to post the video,you know there is a problem, but are looking at a symptom rather than the essential issue.
What I see is a rider who IS doing tricks...because you do not have an effective seat.You are in no way ready for upper level work (and this isn't upper level work, it's piddling)
Dressage is not a ladylike pursuit spent hovering over the horse connecting only occasionally.
You need to get your seat into the saddle,then you wont be pulled forward and collapse in the middle.
I can see that the instructor very much wants you to do well,they look quite anxious.Maybe if you ask to be put on the longe and really crack this nut they would do it?
It's a cute horse that is babysitting you.What happens in the extended paces? What happens if someone stands in front and pulls on the reins? Does it pull you into the saddle, or pull you forward?Try it and see.
You need to get your seat under you, get your leg ON, your lower back working,and lead the horse with your seat connected.Your seat is how you communicate with the horse,he needs to hear you.
It isn't easy to learn, but it is possible.
Best of luck (and please don't feel i'm attacking you I almost didn't bother replying, but though maybe it could help?)

meupatdoes
Jul. 27, 2011, 03:22 PM
You need to get your seat under you, get your leg ON, your lower back working,and lead the horse with your seat connected.Your seat is how you communicate with the horse,he needs to hear you.
It isn't easy to learn, but it is possible.


Why don't you offer some exercises, mental images, or helpful tips?

Surely if you learned it you received plenty of them which you could pass along to the OP.

Anyone can stand in the middle of the ring and holler, "WELL, YOU JUST NEED TO LEARN HOW TO RIDE." Teaching riding is like training a horse: you can't just tell the horse "No no no NO" all the time. Somewhere a door needs to be open for him to go through.

Open the door, and invite them through it.

raff
Jul. 27, 2011, 03:49 PM
I did offer several tips,can't you read?

LarkspurCO
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:00 PM
If we all waited until our seats were perfect before learning any upper-level movements, most of us would be dead before we ever got to try anything.:rolleyes:

She is working with one of the best trainers in the country and what movements or "tricks" she rides is between the two of them.

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:03 PM
Raff, I appreciate your reply as hard as it is for me to hear it. I posted the worst parts of the ride so that people could see what it is that I am doing in those moments. That was the end of an hour lesson in 90 degree weather and I was tired and falling apart.

I'd like to think that my instructor is not blowing smoke you know where. He is not the type to advance you if he feels that you are not working properly off the seat. He does want me to do well and I don't feel like I'm being rushed to do upper level work to make a buck. This is only a few lessons into this work and it really throws me for a loop. Most of the time, if there is a pull...it does seat me deeper in the saddle. Sometimes not. It is something that I struggle with and I know it. I do take longe lessons, I practice without stirrups very often. Extended paces are no problem. And I can collect and let the paces out from my seat...not using the reins to pull.

As you say - I'm not interested in hovering over the saddle - I want to be able to use my seat and communicate 100% of the time. I'm in no rush for this knowledge and I'm not interested in competing. I just want to learn.

I don't know if I should feel like I'm sitting further on my back pockets or what...I have a tendency to get fork-seated and when I do that, I've lost. My question is HOW to get the lower back working...I can see when people do it, I feel like I have some of the time.

And as far as leg...more thigh? More turned in? Can you clarify? I don't want to shout at the horse but I want that connection.

As far as the horse goes...yes, he's babysitting me while I muddle through. It's why I take lessons - so that I can learn these things. However, he does not give you an inch. If you don't ask correctly, he won't go. When I get it right, it's magic and I feel honored to even be able to sit on a horse like him.

raff
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:13 PM
Phew, i'm so glad you're not offended :) I'll try and put into words after having a bit of a think (it's so hard to describe a feeling)
An instructor once said to me 'sit like you're trying to get the last inch of a good man' :gasp She did go to the Olympics, so maybe she knows?! I was a bit shocked though!

meupatdoes
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:16 PM
I did offer several tips,can't you read?

Not only can I read, I can tell the difference between diagnosing a problem and offering a solution.

"You need to get your lower back working" is diagnosing a problem.

"Try doing transitions within the gaits without using your hands or legs" is an exercise that offers a solution.
"Think of your hips as riding a wave and prescribing the size and velocity of that wave" is a mental image that offers a solution.
"Try to loosen your hips as you follow the trot and follow each side of the horse with each hip individually" is a helpful tip.

All three will help correct the problem that you have correctly diagnosed.

Catherine Haddad wrote a GREAT paragraph on teaching in her blog:
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the best teachers in the world have a generous spirit. They have stepped into the arena not to show off what they know, but to tell a student what she or he must hear in order to learn. As a student, this is a pet peeve of mine, Rita. I cannot abide an instructor who steps into the arena and tells me everything that is going wrong. This is an ego-based action, and I have no time for it. I KNOW what is going wrong; what I need to hear is how to fix it. A good instructor does not step into the arena to show off, but rather, to HELP.

Very rarely does analysis of a situation get a student anywhere. You can tell them what is going wrong all week long and twice on Tuesdays. You can narrate every mistake they are making.

The *second* you start to tell them what to do RIGHT, they will ride better. In fact you can walk into a lesson and skip ALL the analysis and ALL the diagnosis and not even bother to take a history on either horse or rider and not tell them a SINGLE THING that they are doing wrong: when you tell them the RIGHT thing to do, voila. You don't even have to say "You're pulling too much!" They will stop pulling if you simply say "put your hands forward."


Open the door, and invite them through it.

"Here are all the reasons you're not through the door yet" is not an invitation.

However you are obviously an experienced FEI level rider, so I am sure you will be able to come up with many suggestions for the OP to try.

raff
Jul. 27, 2011, 05:03 PM
Oh good grief, give it a rest.
According to you,as long as Reddfox is riding pirouettes and such she must have a 'pretty correct position already'
I suspect you are just miffed at being wrong in your initial assessment.
If you actually have something to offer,then do so,but you waste your time sniping at me,as I just don't care,and it's completely off topic.

ToN Farm
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:07 PM
She is working with one of the best trainers in the country
:lol: Now that is funny.

I just hate that rigid upper body position that he advocates and the high hands.

You have more of a trainer problem than a position problem.

Why on earth is Paul having you do tempis, pirouettes and other advanced movements when the horse isn't even doing a good collected trot. What happened to the basics; i.e. forward!

Paul does not ride his horses over the back. Just look at the way those young sales horses on his site go, all 'mincey'. They can do the tricks at a young age, though. It's poll highest point and submission; that's his focus.

He is not a person to go to if one want to really learn how to ride well.

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:09 PM
Just to be clear- I never said that I was riding those movements competently... I said I was learning how to collect with my seat and playing with tempis and passage and such. I'm not saying I'm a Jedi master :lol:

However, I do think I have a solid basic position. Heels, hips, shoulders are all aligned, I'm sitting tall, I'm not getting bounced out of the tack, heels are Dow and legs turned in from the hip. What I do have is a weakness and give in the lower back. Which is what I'm frustrated with :lol:

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:18 PM
ToN Farm, I appreciate that you have an opinion. However, I really wish that this thread remain constructive. I am grateful for what Paul has taught me so far. The choice in trainer is mine to make - down whatever path that leads me. I have no illusions about where I am in my riding. I simply want to be better. I don't see why this has to be a trainwreck.

meupatdoes
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:22 PM
:lol: Now that is funny.

I just hate that rigid upper body position that he advocates and the high hands.

You have more of a trainer problem than a position problem.

Why on earth is Paul having you do tempis, pirouettes and other advanced movements when the horse isn't even doing a good collected trot. What happened to the basics; i.e. forward!

Paul does not ride his horses over the back. Just look at the way those young sales horses on his site go, all 'mincey'. They can do the tricks at a young age, though. It's poll highest point and submission; that's his focus.

He is not a person to go to if one want to really learn how to ride well.

Oh look.

Yet another person posting to show how great they are, how much everyone else sucks, with not a single positive suggestion for the OP to try.

If you guys REALLY had an eye you could look at that video and tell OP simply, "Try this."

No need to tear anything or anyone down on the way.
Just, "try this."

LarkspurCO
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:31 PM
:lol: Now that is funny.

I just hate that rigid upper body position that he advocates and the high hands.

You have more of a trainer problem than a position problem.

Why on earth is Paul having you do tempis, pirouettes and other advanced movements when the horse isn't even doing a good collected trot. What happened to the basics; i.e. forward!

Paul does not ride his horses over the back. Just look at the way those young sales horses on his site go, all 'mincey'. They can do the tricks at a young age, though. It's poll highest point and submission; that's his focus.

He is not a person to go to if one want to really learn how to ride well.

Seriously? Have you ever had a lesson with him or watched him teach?

By the way, what "mincing" young horses did you see on his sales site? I didn't see anything like that.

ToN Farm
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:51 PM
Seriously? Have you ever had a lesson with him or watched him teach? Yup. I even bought a horse from his farm some years ago. Even have video to prove it.

By the way, what "mincing" young horses did you see on his sales site? I didn't see anything like that. Yeah well, you obviously have different taste than I do. I haven't seen a nice horse bred at his place yet. Show me the show records of any of them, except Excelso and he wasn't bred there. Do I intensely dislike the guy? You betcha..

mp
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:52 PM
I don't see why this has to be a trainwreck.

Me neither.

Your position looks fine, but it's not effective. If it was, that horse would be moving out and he isn't. Just stating the obvious. ;)

Here's what I think: If you concentrate less on the checklist of being picture perfect and more on what Velvet called small/controlled following with your seat, I bet your problem will be at least halfway solved. You look stiff -- not eq rider stiff, but maybe that's what you're thinking? Like "must keep legs here" "must keep shoulders here" ...

My instructor gives me visualizations to use. And here's the one that I think might help you -- "think about connecting your left seatbone to his left hind leg." That really helped me with riding the side to side, instead of the up/down in sitting trot. It also reminds me to feel the horse underneath me, move with him and not restrict his movement.

And you're free to take this advice with a 50# block of salt. I'm a TL/First rider.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 27, 2011, 07:53 PM
Am I doomed to always appear a bit loose in the sitting trot?

What does Paul say?
From my experience if you ask him an honest question, he'll give you an honest answer. He's taught so many people, and has access to such an amazing library, I'm sure he's in a better position to tell you than we are.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 27, 2011, 08:02 PM
let go in your upper thoracic.... the part of your back from where your sleeve ends on up. it looks like you are holding energy there in an attempt to maintain ownership of your shoulderblades.

paintball
Jul. 27, 2011, 08:24 PM
I see your issue, but I don't think the long upper body is what is causing the problem.

You do have a good position, but it looks like you are battling to follow the horses' movement (yeah, he does look bouncy).

You look tense. Do you have lower back issues? You look like your arms and shoulders are tight and not relaxed, which probably won't help you absorb movement, and that you are gripping with your knees and inner thighs.

Even in the canter it looks like you are gripping and perching a bit, sitting right at the front of the saddle and standing in the stirrups, almost.

Does your trainer get you to ride without stirrups at all?

Sure, core strength helps but it's not everything, or little kids wouldn't be able to sit trot, and some do it very well.

My suggestions - as a long succession of trainers have told me, Sit. On. Your. Bum. :) Like, right on the back of your butt. Initially, this might make your legs move forward a bit, and I'm wondering if this is what is causing your problem: your legs are pushed back into dressage position (as opposed to jumping), but your hip flexors are too tight to allow you to sit on your butt.

Can you sit canter any better in a jump saddle or with shorter stirrups? If so, then I think that may be your problem.

Reddfox
Jul. 27, 2011, 09:03 PM
mp, petstorejunkie, and paintball - thank you so much for your thoughts. I think that the three of you have hit the mark. I am stiff, I try so hard to absorb his movement, that I shut the horse down. I try so hard to have my shoulders back (they really want to hunch over - my day job is in front of a computer all day) that I end up forcing them back. I tend to get a bit fork seated the more I strive to sit up.

Paintball, yes, I do have back issues. I have sculiosis and I am coming off of 3 broken ribs. With the connective tissue having been ripped off and still slowly healing, it gets very painful on my right side toward my lower ribs. The accident happened rock climbing - not riding. I ride a lot without stirrups - I think actually that I am better without them - it forces me to be softer and more following I think.

I started as a hunter/jumper - rode for 25 years in that discipline. I've been slowly elongating my leg and trying to open my hip flexors. I think that I try to force them back and that pushes me in a fork seat. I actually yell at myself (under my breath of course) to SIT. ON. MY. BUM. to remind myself that I'm getting too forward. I do SIT better when my stirrups are shorter.

Petstorejunkie - Paul has of course given me great advice - He doesn't think it's a strength issue. I don't want to go into his advice here based on what's been said already. I posted because I was feeling a bit discouraged and was looking for advice, not because I'm questioning his methods or because I think that he can't steer me in the right direction...it was more of a "poor me" vent - I've been having a rough time recently outside of the barn :) I had no idea that there would be such drama... I have asked for honest evaluations of my position and he has given them, and we've discussed why we're doing the exercises that we're doing.

But, what you guys have written is stuff that I can evaluate on my own. I'll try these things with my mare and see what helps - I can't tell you how much I appreciate the thoughts!

Karosel
Jul. 27, 2011, 10:14 PM
[QUOTE=raff;5743689An instructor once said to me 'sit like you're trying to get the last inch of a good man' :gasp She did go to the Olympics, so maybe she knows?! I was a bit shocked though![/QUOTE]


so does this mean a particular extracurricular activity will help deepen my seat? :D

J-Lu
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:49 PM
Hi, I'm a dressage rider and I have a long torso. I have been working tirelessly on my position for 2 years now (before that, I rode H/J.) I have made a lot of progress with my teacher and his fantastic school horses. I have even "graduated" to riding his Andalusian stallion in lessons. I have gone from "the worst tummy trot" that my trainer has ever seen, to learning how to collect from my seat and back and I have been playing with passage and learning canter pirouettes and tempis.

However, I still collapse in my back, especially in the canter. I envy short torsoed riders and their strong backs. They look so elegant. Am I doomed to always appear a bit loose in the sitting trot? I'm together, I'm effective- and I wouldn't be able to effectively ask for passage if I wasn't using my back correctly, yet in videos- there always appears to be more movement than I want.

In the canter, I have come a long way in retraining the hunter perch. I can sit tall, I can collect from my seat and back, yet invariably- I give... Just a little bit, just below my rib cage. And every time, that Cadillac of a stallion leans on me and the work goes to hell. I can regroup, I can fix it... But I can't stop it yet.

At this level, it's tiny nuances that make a difference, and I want to lick this giving in the back in a bad way.

So, fellow long-torsoed COTHers, how have you strengthened your back and taught yourself not to give in that spot just below your ribs? Core strength is not an issue for me... I'm almost too strong and it counter-acts my back muscles. Are there targeted excercises to help over come this less than ideal rider conformation?? Help! :lol:

I have a long torso, too! What a hassle to buy dresses! If you PM me, I'll send you links to some rides I have online for comparison. I've found that the flexibility comes in the hips and lower back, and slight weight changes, without having to move my back/upper body too much. The changes occur between my shoulderblades and knees.

Since you say that your core is strong, I'm wondering if you're over thinking it too much? Using your core, above natural balance, too much? How do you feel if you just *ride* the movements and corrections? I think our minds can sometimes get in the way of a good ride.

J.

raff
Jul. 28, 2011, 04:09 AM
What i've been thinking about, is that you should try and get as close into and against the saddle as you can.You can move the flesh of your thigh and buttocks back manually and the slight tension in the passively stretched muscle creates a bit of a velcro butt.I don't sit ON my bum really, more on whatever is between the glutes and the bones?
Also keep the top of your pelvis a tiny bit behind your pubic bone.Do some floor exercises where your back stays flattish to the floor and you make a sitting trot movement by tilting your pelvis,there is no backwards movement ,the floor stops your pelvis moving that way.So what can happen? You can hollow your back in order to tilt your pelvis in what would be a forward onto the crotch movement in the saddle.Identify that back hollowing movement, and try NOT to do that when riding.You need a slight curve in the lower back, but not to the extent that you can tilt onto your pubic bone.
If your hip joints are tight,and you have a long leg turned in at the hip, the only way your body can compensate for the tightness is to hollow the back and put the ball joint of the femur into a different spot within the joint.Hip range of motion is a good thing to work on and it hurts a bit but shouldn't hurt too much or you risk damage.
Riding with a really deep seat does put you into a vulnerable feeling position as far as the hip joint is concerned anyway, but once your muscles become longer and stronger, it feels better.
You look very good on a horse, and with a bit more strength and flexibility will look and BE even better :)

Reddfox
Jul. 28, 2011, 08:43 AM
Raff, I really appreciate this - especially regarding the exercise to pinpoint the back hollowing movement. It all makes sense!

paintball
Jul. 28, 2011, 11:53 AM
An article you might find interesting :)
http://www.equinestudies.org/whos_built_best_2008/whos_built_best_2008_pdf1.pdf

The main points I got out of it:

1. For many women, trying to sit deep in the saddle results in the knees lifting.

2. Good posture (riding or otherwise) comes at least as much from the lower back as the shoulders.

Reddfox
Jul. 28, 2011, 01:26 PM
An article you might find interesting :)
http://www.equinestudies.org/whos_built_best_2008/whos_built_best_2008_pdf1.pdf

The main points I got out of it:

1. For many women, trying to sit deep in the saddle results in the knees lifting.

2. Good posture (riding or otherwise) comes at least as much from the lower back as the shoulders.

This is VERY interesting. I gave it a quick skim, I'm going to print it and sit down with it later tonight. Thanks so much!

Blkarab
Jul. 28, 2011, 04:33 PM
OP---I am having some of the same issues, and have been working diligently on them with my instructor for nearly 8 years. In that time, I have worked hard on the lunge and also on my own...both on the ground-out of the saddle, and in the saddle, analyzing where the energy blocks occur. I just started pilates about 6 weeks ago...and feel a great deal of improvement in my core and also in opening my hips, hip flexors and psoas muscles. It's important to find a pilates instructor who can work one-on-one with you to help you analyze the areas of weakness within your core and also keep an eye on your position to make sure you won't injure yourself doing the exercises.

You look very tight in your lower back and hips...by opening those up, it will help you absorb the motion of the horse better and allow the energy to rise up through your torso and back down into the horse, minimizing the bounce you are seeing in the video.

Reddfox
Jul. 29, 2011, 08:37 PM
I just wanted to thank everyone who gave me ideas and feedback. This was a week of experimentation for me. I thought all this time that my long torso was giving me the issues. It turns out - it's not.

Some very astute posters recognized that I am tight in my hips and back and that my pelvis is not actually sitting stable in the saddle. Through some very helpful offline conversations, some points were clarified and examples and exercises were given.

I also sat on my exercise ball at work all week and by putting one hand on my low stomach and the other on the small of my back and rocking back and forth, I was able to identify the movement that I need to isolate. My hips don't open from the joint past a certain point...when I hit that point, I rock my pelvis forward in my low back.

So, I got in the saddle (my personal saddle has very small blocks) and I got my friend to longe me (no stirrups) and I paid extra special attention to my hip joints and "forgot" about ramming my heels down and sitting up straight and forcing my shoulders back. Something almost magical happened :)

By doing that and concentrating on my hip joints - my pelvis stayed stable and I didn't have to force anything and there was no great strength needed. I felt like I was falling through the saddle if that makes sense and - I could feel the "push" through my back that was very much forward and with the horse.

The canter was more difficult because it's where I really tend to do the pelvis rock. When I took my stirrups back up, I came up with the visual of almost pushing down through my stirrups to let my hips open and close and there was that push through my back again - it wasn't strength that was doing it. And all this time, I thought that it was. I was able to really control my mare's stride by playing with how much I "pushed through my stirrups" and there was no force and not a ton of rein pressure.

I know that this is not a magic bullet - but I want to sincerely thank those posters that took the time to give me ideas and explain what this sensation should feel like. It's what my trainer has been saying all along - but his visuals had me concentrating on my back, and this discussion has helped me think about the issue in other ways.

If I'm feeling brave, I'll post another video once I get someone to take one of me and my mare :lol:

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 29, 2011, 09:03 PM
I was thinking about you today, and I'm so glad that you had an aha moment.
I adore Paul, I learn so much from him, but even with Paul on my shelf, and in my ear it is nice to get multiple perspectives with the same intention. No instructor has every word picture for every pupil.
I can't wait to see what your aha moment looks like :)

englishcowgirl
Jul. 29, 2011, 09:17 PM
I have a long torso, long legs and arms. The only place I do look right is on a horse. I have never a problem with any of my parts besides the regular beginner stuff. How long have you been riding? You will work out of it! Keep practicing!

Reddfox
Jul. 29, 2011, 09:36 PM
@Petstorejunkie - I feel the same way! He has gotten me to where I am today and my position has truly evolved. This is the one nut we haven't yet cracked, but it isn't for lack of trying on both our parts! I think I was just focusing on the wrong part of the picture - I have had moments of riding during lessons that felt like today - but it wasn't reproducible for me because I didn't know what I was targeting. He would say, yes - that's it!!! Now tell me what you felt and what you did"...and I haven't been able to until I started thinking about my hips rather than the give in my back. And, in a lot of ways, I'm my own worst enemy because I want so badly to get it - that I end up too stiff in all respects.

@Englishcowgirl - I've been riding since I was 5, so 25 years. I was in the H/J world for most of that time. Dressage is a recent evolution for me and I'm completely enamoured. But it is so different from where I was in terms of position and control. I won't ever be an Olympian, but my goal isn't to be the best - only the best that I can be.

dfsaz
Jul. 31, 2011, 09:37 AM
I am not a trainer, just a long torso/waisted AA who has struggled for years with this problem. Pilates does help. I slouch, so it is a challenge. Lately I have been working on stretching my seat bones down, lifting my ribs off my waist, sliding the shoulders down the back not pulling them back, and knitting the ribs in front. Finally, I got a saddle that helps me and it makes a huge difference. Plugging the seat firmly in the saddle gives the base that allows the rest to be effective. It is always going to be a work in progress for me but at least there is some progress.

cuatx55
Jul. 31, 2011, 10:45 AM
Your riding reminds me a lot of me. I have a long torso, tight hips. You have a good alignment, its definitely on the right track. I carry a LOT of tension. In my case I try too hard but also have fibromylalgia so "loseness" is not something I can physically accomplish many days!

I agree with the others who said its a tighness issue and not due to a long torso. That does not help, but its not the sole issue. Read Mary Wanless, she has some good things to say about the seat and being "plugged in" to the horse.

I've been doing dressage for a long time, it really helps to not care how you do---meaning don't try too hard. Easier said then done but just be "in the moment" and breathe.....its a change of mindset.

Your horse in the video isn't really moving out, but in practicing the sitting trot I would say thats just fine. He's just not really connected....I wouldn't want you to think he's doing everything right.

I think with some strength training and time you will do just fine. Don't get to hard on yourself, lots of us have long torsos and ride just fine. Everyone has something they wish they could fix.

philosoraptor
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:24 AM
Short video, shows a bit of trot and some changes. ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTfzZe3XzA4

I too, have a very long torso. I understand where you're coming from. (My woes are finding shirts long enough to tuck in!)

I could be totally off base here. But from that video clip, I felt like it wasn't just your back that was moving - it was your hips into your thighs. Which tells me the pelvis isn't moving quite as much in sync with the horse.

I don't know where you live. But if you can get to a Connected Riding clinic, that's what I'd do. I did a few with Diane Sept. Just a few adjustments to the angle of my pelvis and where my center-of-balance was on the saddle, and I felt 10x better.
http://www.connectedriding.com/

Stretching exercises for your lower back and hips/thighs may also be beneficial. Get everything loose and relaxed.

I wanted to thank you for sharing with us a clip of your riding. It's nice to see what other people are working on.

GingerJumper
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:58 AM
I don't have a long torso relative to my body, but I just have a long body, even being short, and have had some of the same problems you mention.

The thing I noticed was, like others have said, tension in your hips. I also noticed (and I'm not sure how to describe it) that you'd follow rhythm for a second, and then lose it again. It looked to me like you were focusing a little too hard on following his rhythm, and in doing so, didn't end up following it.

A few things that helped me:

Trying to feel which hind leg is coming forward at what time, focusing on the inside leg. (starting at the walk first) Trainers made me do this at the walk, trot, and canter... it's hard at first, but it's a good way to think of what the horse is doing rather than what you're doing on him, and it made me much, much looser in my hips.

Once I got all nice and loose, I could then think about just draping my leg around the horse's barrel... not shoving my heels down or squeezing his guts out, just draped around softly.

Quick question...

Do your ribs still hurt from the injury (I believe you said they were broken..)? If so, perhaps try posting more than sitting until they don't hurt. I have torn several sections of cartilage that connects my abs to whatever they attach to over the past 3-ish years, and it made sitting trot horrible... I couldn't engage my abs to help take some of the shock, and if I tried it'd hurt something awful and I'd tense up. Now that they're healed, I can sit better because I can use my abs to help absorb some of the shock and I stay relaxed.

As far as the horse, he's a very handsome critter! Once you follow him better with your seat, which I think everyone's given you great advice on, then you can really begin to connect him and get him engaged. Best of luck!

suzy
Aug. 3, 2011, 11:01 AM
I don't have time to read the entire thread, so I apologize if I am repeating what others may have said.

Redd, work on exercises that strengthen your core--sit ups are good (be sure to keep your lower back flat against the floor), exercises using the Swiss ball, and so forth. As Velvet (I think) said, you need to follow more with your hips but at the same time not collapse through your waist. I am also long waisted, so this is something I have always had to work on.

As you said, your arms are a bit tight. It doesn't look as though you are leaning on the horse's mouth (good for you!), but your arms appear stuck. Every few strides, open your elbows and reach forward 1 to 2 inches with both hands toward the horse's mouth. This will help you develop useful muscle memory and allow the horse to come more over his back. This in turn will make it easier to sit his trot which will become softer and swingier.

Ride bending lines and serpentines to help you become more flexible in your arms and to soften him laterally. The lateral suppling of the horse will help with the longitudinal suppling. This helps develop the horse's schwung and translates into more comfort for you.

Bronte
Aug. 3, 2011, 11:30 AM
Some excellent ideas here! Here's my two cents!

What keeps popping out to me is that you are forcing your body into position. Also you mentioned that sitting is easier without stirrups, (that means your ankles are not absorbing the movement and hence pushing you out of the saddle).

So, you know you have a stiffness issues, (from pushing shoulders back, legs back etc etc, it is locking your hip, back, shoulders).

Two things I am going to suggest you try.

First, in order to sit quietly you have to move a lot through the hip! Start in rising trot, then post smaller and smaller and smaller, until your butt is in the saddle, but the hips are still swinging with the stride. (This is also good for people learning to feel their diagonals, you start to feel the diagonal push from the hind legs).

Second, on the lunge, use a buck strap, drop your reins and stirrups (after you and your horse are warmed up). Hold the buck strap lightly with both hands in front of you, but do not pull on it. Let your body totally relax, let your toes point down, take your legs off the saddle (sideways splits), and let them just drop naturally down. Relax your neck, shoulders, back, seat, just swing with your horse. When you are ready trot. Forget worrying about not bouncing, if you bounce relax more, even if you feel you are flopping around. Keep lifting legs off the saddle to be sure you are not gripping. Now swing the same way you did after posting smaller and smaller. Did I say stay relaxed!!

The reason I am suggesting this is the break down all the tension in your body parts. Once you are swinging through the hip, think elastic, stay relaxed, but gently put your body back in alignment. Drop shoulders back (not force), sit up tall while still swinging, lift toes etc.

You have to allow yourself to drop into position naturally.

I hope this makes sense. You are doing great, sometimes less is more and trying too hard to sit perfectly is counterproductive!!

Give and Take
Aug. 3, 2011, 01:10 PM
i just did a clinic with a trainer from Canada. a good friend has a long torso and a nice butt from being a track star, so when she 'perches' her butt get further out behind and her feet more forward.

the instructor had her change the depth of her seat at different parts of the arena and think about 'tucking her bum' to sink in. so down the long side a lighter seat and then tucking her bum into the saddle about 15m before the corner to rebalance into the corner, then lightening again on the way out.

maybe if you think out how you're tucking your bum which opens your hip angle, the upper part of your torso can just stay aligned.

good luck!

Reddfox
Aug. 3, 2011, 02:04 PM
Thanks all for the helpful advice! I've been working on limbering up for the last 2 weeks. I was horrified to find that my hamstrings and hip flexors are so tight that I can't bring my leg past 90degrees when I'm laying on my back. I used to be a gymnast before I grew to 5'8" and I was able to do splits with ease- not so much anymore :) So, yoga and targeted stretching have been my routine.

I also have been riding and trying out the advice that I've been getting. I've been videoing sitting stiff and then trying to follow and I can see a difference. What seems to help for me is to think almost of pushing into my stirrups, which reminds me that my hips need to open and close.

The horse I am riding is a difficult saint. :lol: I am going to ask my instructor if I can ride one of the other schoolmasters who is much smoother and less touchy about "doing it right" until I get the hang these points.

With what I've been practicing, right now, on a smoother horse, I can literally take my legs away from the sides of the saddle and ride soft and in balance without forcing anything...

To the posters that asked, yes, my ribs/back still hurt - I broke 3 ribs and sheared the cartilage from 5 of them on my right side. It's been over a year, the doctor has cleared me to ride, but I do need to remind myself to take it easy and if it hurts, post or take a break.

I have a lesson tonight and I'm going to talk to my instructor about what I'm feeling and the general observations of my tightness. He wants me to do well, so I know he'll help me muddle through. He is very big on strong, solid core and pushing from your back and seat (not leaning back and driving) but that you can build the resonance and cadence as you would build more spring on a trampoline. I think that in some ways, that served to tighten me up - but now I've done overboard and need to RELAX again a bit. :) I have to realize that firm core does not equal TENSE!

Thanks again all! When I'm feeling brave I'll post another video to see if you all can see a difference :)

Petstorejunkie
Aug. 3, 2011, 03:28 PM
Ask Paul if he thinks the balimo and gyrotonic exercises would help.

VCT
Aug. 3, 2011, 07:13 PM
Hey Reddfox,

I'm not very good at dressage, so take this for what it's worth... ;)

To me you looked a little stiff and bouncy. Maybe you are trying too hard to prevent your back from flexing or wiggling?

It looked to me if you relaxed some and got heavier in the saddle it would come together.

Reddfox
Aug. 3, 2011, 07:42 PM
Update: I had a lesson today - no one to video :(

I asked my instructor about the hips/back/seat conundrum. He said that at this point, I don't have to worry about my back as being the issue - I have a firm core and we've effectively eliminated the tummy trot. He said that from what he's seeing, I chase the movements and rush them a bit instead of relaxing into the saddle and just sitting tall and letting them unfold. He also said that I have too much of a hold on the saddle with my thighs and that's clamping my hips down and effectively stopping the movement - and the only place that can give at this point is the small of my back. He said that my right hip is the one with the least movement and where he sees it the most is in movements like renver, where I really struggle to bring my leg back from the hip and in the canter.

He believes that I have tight piriformis muscles and that I have decreased mobility in my rotators. He said that runners (which I am one) and dancers tend to have tight rotators because the hips need extra stability in the muscles that control the rotators. He gave me some yoga exercises to target my rotators and piriformis muscles.

He said that my upper body gets tense because I have a tendency to roll my shoulders in and hold my hands way too close together and then to counter-act that, I try to force my shoulder blades back instead of just opening my hands a bit and letting my arms hang and follow.

So, we broke everything down into smaller steps today and did some basic position checks...can I remove my legs from the saddle and not get bounced out? Yes. Can I go without stirrups? Yes.

I told him that I feel that 90% of the time, I feel as if I have no horse in front of me. He said that when I push with my back, I'm also locking my hips which is pretty ineffectual. We worked on changes within the trot until I got the feel of it. I have to feel as though I'm leaning back just a bit, I've found. He assures me I'm still straight when I do this.

In the canter, we worked on swinging my hips to get a very forward canter and then making sure that I don't clamp with my thigh to ask for collection and to remember to sit up tall...Those went very well on the left lead...on my stiff side, I had a harder time getting smooth changes within the gaits.

We also worked on single changes - to work on timing and to get the forward swing of my hips ... we discussed how I have a tendency to over-ride the trough of the stride in an effort to count timing or to hold the lead - which makes me clamp my legs and hold in the hips - and then I see the give in my back, because it has no where else to give - not because it's weak... When I continued to swing - it was straight and effortless.

Overall - he said that he feels as though my back is not the issue and that we have to really work on getting my hips swinging - exercise ball, no stirrup exercises are my homework. He said that we haven't really focused on this aspect quite yet because he was more concerned about me getting some core strength and connecting my seat with my core, and the exercises that we've been doing now have been aimed now at loosening my hips - but it's nice to have more targeted exercises - and now I know that I should actually be focusing elsewhere in my position... :)

Reddfox
Aug. 3, 2011, 08:15 PM
Oh crap! I just had a lightbulb go off as I was trying some of the stretches. The right side (my trouble side) is the hip that had bad bursitis from my hurdling days. I had to do the electric STIM therapy and injections through high school and college to keep me up and running. At the end of my college track career, they pulled some x-rays which showed some calcification forming. Forgot ALL about that! No wonder I can't rotate that joint!! :lol:

My instructor is going to kill me for not divulging that tidbit. Can't believe it slipped my mind :/

netg
Aug. 4, 2011, 01:17 AM
Overall - he said that he feels as though my back is not the issue and that we have to really work on getting my hips swinging - exercise ball, no stirrup exercises are my homework. He said that we haven't really focused on this aspect quite yet because he was more concerned about me getting some core strength and connecting my seat with my core, and the exercises that we've been doing now have been aimed now at loosening my hips - but it's nice to have more targeted exercises - and now I know that I should actually be focusing elsewhere in my position... :)

It sounds like you have a really helpful instructor who's good about getting you working off your horse, too. If you can try to describe some of your exercises I'd love to hear them! (Or did I miss them earlier? I have a bad habit of doing that.)

I say this as someone currently going through it.... get yourself a series of serious massages. And your horse, too, most likely.

I have gotten my horse regular massages as he's learning to use new muscles so always sore. Well, I knew I was, too, and I knew I had trouble moving with him as much as I wanted to. But it only clicked two weeks ago that... gee, maybe I should get massages, too.

After two massages, some of the tightness is getting worked out. But I still have a lot left. And what I have found is the kind of tightness which comes from trying to use muscles and ask them to stretch and contract as much as we do riding all at the same time meant they only gathered more tension, and never could release it. Each layer of tension which gets massaged out leaves more layers below it. And the muscle groups they're finding which need work correspond to the muscle groups my equine massage therapist was finding in my horse. In the meantime, my horse is currently better than he has been in his entire life and the change was pretty much an instant improvement after the first massage. Funny, how making yourself physically capable of doing what you want with your seat helps!

serendipityhunter
Aug. 4, 2011, 12:49 PM
I totally agree with netg. I was extremely tight in my hips, so bad that they would pop if I tried exercises to loosen them on the horse. I have been getting massage for myself and my horse, and it is helping us both. I also try to do exercises that stretch out the hip flexor, and strengthen the core and back.

fairtheewell
Aug. 10, 2011, 09:04 AM
A couple of things come to mind from watching your video.

Raise the "girls"...East and West..goes for guys too...lol

When you are lunged in sitting trot, lean all the way back while holding one hand on the pommel...pull yourself into your saddle, keeping your legs back under you, that will place your hips and open your torso...feel that you are one with the horse...maintain the torso position and then "slowly" rise up until shoulders, hips, heel are in line....(don't forget to keep the girls raised).

You could lower your hands just a little bit so that elbow-wrist-rein-bit..are all in one line...keep elbows and WRISTS soft...

Think "officer"...

Have fun!

Just my humble 2 cents...

DinkDunk
Aug. 10, 2011, 12:15 PM
Pigeon Pose, baby!

http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/863

I am so freaking tight through my hips...I can do all sorts of yoga poses, but anything w/ hip stretches is SO hard for me.

netg
Aug. 10, 2011, 12:48 PM
Pigeon Pose, baby!

http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/863

I am so freaking tight through my hips...I can do all sorts of yoga poses, but anything w/ hip stretches is SO hard for me.

That's a GREAT tip!

I want to be home so I can try now.

cyberbay
Aug. 10, 2011, 01:17 PM
Gosh, it is amazing how rude some of the posters are on this thread. "Suck it up?" on page 1? Really? If someone is asking for help, and that is all you can offer, go on to another forum and save the vitriol for some other innocent poster. Geez...

Forunately, most of the other posters were far more productive.

The one comment I wanted to make is that the OP isn't wearing a helmet. I know, I know, it's annoying to hear that...

But, a long torso, having one, is harder to ride with than a short torso... but my one observation I've seen about dressage riders who can really sit, etc., is that they are naturally limber from the get-go. And that gives them a head start. Anyone can learn it, but they are loose.

Reddfox
Aug. 10, 2011, 02:24 PM
Gosh, it is amazing how rude some of the posters are on this thread. "Suck it up?" on page 1? Really? If someone is asking for help, and that is all you can offer, go on to another forum and save the vitriol for some other innocent poster. Geez...

Forunately, most of the other posters were far more productive.

The one comment I wanted to make is that the OP isn't wearing a helmet. I know, I know, it's annoying to hear that...

But, a long torso, having one, is harder to ride with than a short torso... but my one observation I've seen about dressage riders who can really sit, etc., is that they are naturally limber from the get-go. And that gives them a head start. Anyone can learn it, but they are loose.

Thanks Cyberbay - I was also taken aback at some of the comments at first, but I followed up with some via PM and was given very helpful advice.

As to the helmet - not an annoying comment to me, that was my first and only time sans helmet. I had left it in my truck and taken a different vehicle to my lesson and the barn had none - I decided that I would go without and it was the scariest thing for me. I think that contributed to my overall stiffness that day.

To each his own, but for me - I'll continue to wear my helmet.

NetG, you had asked about exercises - Sorry for the late reply - work was intense the last two weeks-ish :yes:

On the horse, I am to be taking my thighs away from the sides of the horse at all gaits and holding for a few moments and also swinging my legs alongside the horse one at a time keeping my pelvis neutral to encourage my hip joints to relax and swing.

Off horse, the pigeon pose and butterfly stretch was recommended, although I have to be careful to not aggravate old injuries. Hamstring stretches are important for me - lay on my back - use an exercise band and lift my leg up to at least 90 degrees, then open my hip out (like a straddle) and then cross my leg over (really gets the outside of my glutes). Downward dog has been recommended to me as well as all of the exercises linked to on this page. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/back/buttocks/piriform/periformusstretching.php

I've been at it for about 2 weeks now, and I feel as though I feel a difference. I never realized how much being tight was hindering me - I feel as though I am starting to get softer and I'm able to push the horses that I ride out more rather than mincing around. The canter is much better now too - I tended to get a lot of breaks in the gait on the right lead - and that is going away as I become more aware of the amount that my hips need to move.

Blkarab
Aug. 10, 2011, 02:47 PM
Reddfox--

Yay for the discoveries! I have been doing pilates now for about 6 weeks, and I'm really starting to notice a difference as well. It wasn't just my hips that were so tight, but also noticed how tight my hamstrings and achilles' tendon was as well. I was having so many issues in the saddle, and getting frustrated because I just couldn't over-come them, no matter how hard I tried.

One of the exercises that has been very, very helpful for me, have been hip circles. We have been doing this on a reformer..but I also do them at home on my bed. Really opens up the psoas mucles, and those tiny muscles in the thighs and groin.

I just wanted to say good for you! for working on your issues to improve your riding. I have found that to be the most helpful thing, and the benefits go far beyond the saddle. I still have many, many miles to go, but it's so rewarding to feel the differences in the saddle and in my back.

One other thing I wanted to mention...I just had the saddle fitter out, and he noticed that my horse's shoulder was more pronounced on one side over the other. He adjusted the saddle, and mentioned that I was probably having issues going that direction...which was true! He told me not to blame myself for the issues, but to keep in mind that the horse was pushing me with the dominant shoulder, and while my trainer could correct the problem, with me, it would should up as a leaning/balance issue...something we had been wrestling with for a very long time. I only mention this...as it might not hurt to have your saddle evaluated by a good fitter and make sure that there are absolutely no tack issues that could be subconsciously adding to the hip problem. Lack of balance in any way, can creep in as a tightness issue.

Good luck with your continued discoveries!

Reddfox
Aug. 10, 2011, 03:07 PM
One other thing I wanted to mention...I just had the saddle fitter out, and he noticed that my horse's shoulder was more pronounced on one side over the other. He adjusted the saddle, and mentioned that I was probably having issues going that direction...which was true! He told me not to blame myself for the issues, but to keep in mind that the horse was pushing me with the dominant shoulder, and while my trainer could correct the problem, with me, it would should up as a leaning/balance issue...something we had been wrestling with for a very long time. I only mention this...as it might not hurt to have your saddle evaluated by a good fitter and make sure that there are absolutely no tack issues that could be subconsciously adding to the hip problem. Lack of balance in any way, can creep in as a tightness issue.

This is a good suggestion - I did just have my saddle adjusted for my mare. The right side thing is on multiple horses in multiple saddles - in the video, that is a schoolmaster that I'm riding and it is not my saddle. So, I'm fairly confident that the one-sidedness is me :lol:

The original post was born out of frustration: I couldn't seem to break through these issues. But, I was always under the impression that it was my back that was the issue. Now that I'm aware of tightness in my hips, I'm also realizing that the sciatica that I've been experiencing is slowly disappearing and the clicking in my pelvis that had just started to appear is disappearing as well. I have always been very limber - I used to be a gymnast before I got too tall and injury stopped that - I literally couldn't believe the loss of mobility that I've suffered over the last few years. I'm working hard to rectify it and hoping that it continues to help me make improvements in the saddle as well! I'm just glad that I have an instructor that is willing to take the time to discuss these thing with me and give me advice and exercises to help overcome it!

Blkarab
Aug. 10, 2011, 03:17 PM
I know how you feel! Just thought I would throw that suggestion out there, because I was really so surprised at the difference the saddle adjustment made. It was huge. My instructor went from barking at me the entire lesson, to actually complimenting me on how nice I had my guy looking. It was nice to feel balanced and feel progress.

My hips are also really tight..so,one of the first pilates exercises my instructor had me do, was to lay on my back, and think of my pelvis as a clock. My bellybutton is 12 o'clock and then the bottom of my pelvis is 6. She has me roll back and forth between 12 and 6...and then between 3 and 9. It really, really gets me to think about the movement of the pelvis, and how high up the pelvis really goes (I was cutting myself off 1/2way). With the lordosis I have in my lumbar spine...this helps to give me a reference point for a neutral spine and now I just think 12 when I need to take that curve out of my lower back.

easyrider
Aug. 10, 2011, 05:52 PM
There is so much good advice here. I agree wholeheartedly with the posters that noted the tight hips....suggested you let go in your upper torso...and recommended yoga and massage. Massage is the best thing I did for my hip flexors, aside from spending a lifetime on the lungeline.

I think it's important to make a distinction between "having a seat" and having contact with the saddle. I agree with Steffen Peters when he says that your seat goes from your shoulders down to your knees. I see a lot of vertical movement in your body -- you follow the horse's motion up and down but not front and back. Once you open up your hip flexors, you'll be able to follow the motion a lot better.

Watching your video, I have to wonder how much of your vertical motion is caused by you and how much is caused by the horse, who appears to have limited longitudinal flexibility. I think it's a great idea of yours to ask to ride different horses, and hopefully you can get on a horse with greater suppleness, which will help you develop your seat.

It looks if you're trying very hard to hold yourself in position and keep your seat in the saddle. As we New Englanders say, "you can't get there from here." All the effort to have a proper position and contact with the saddle is translating into a very tight upper back that makes you rock there (rather than, the way you perceive it, in your pelvis), stiff legs and elbows. Instead of thinking about putting your shoulders back, try thinking about tucking them into your back pockets. Also think about letting every joint in your body move (Anne Kursinski talks about "oily joints" and that's just as important for dressage as it is for jumping). Then see if things don't start to fall into place.

One last thing: it's important to bear in mind that really strong abs can work against you. Some people strengthen their abs and think that gives them a strong core, but it doesn't and often works against a rider's ability to absorb the movement fluidly. Your core is behind your abs, in the center of your body, and it works with diaphragmatic breathing. Do you tend to hold your breath when you ride?

Best of luck to you as you work so hard to improve your riding. I look forward to an update, and I'm sure I'm not alone there.

netg
Aug. 10, 2011, 07:09 PM
Thank you everyone who has posted different exercise ideas!

I'm currently experiencing sacrum issues... and so is my horse. Surprise, surprise... We actually usually mirror each other, but this one is more surprising because we both started experiencing issues on a week I wasn't riding him due to his losing a shoe!

There's mention of longeing, and lifting the legs off the horse; to get the feel of REALLY sitting the trot well, I love longeing at the trot while lifting my legs off my horse. The change in his trot as I do that is absurdly huge, and helps me feel what it's always supposed to feel like. It's just when I put my legs back down that I start having issues - I think due to the tightness I'm trying to work through. Or my legs just get in the way. :lol:

Reddfox
Aug. 10, 2011, 08:34 PM
Ok, I debated uploading new videos, but I thought, "what the heck," this will be a transformation and may help someone else who is experiencing similar issues.

This is me a week after this thread started - I've made improvements since these videos because I've been stretching and doing a lot of exercises to help mobility.

This is just me incorporating the advice of fellow COTHers, It's not night and day obviously, but I think that I have more forward, and I think that I am a bit softer. I will continue to work on these issues, but I'm happy that the overall appearance is already a tiny bit improved and I feel as though it's a bit more harmonious and softer. I do see that I also have a tendency to carry my hands way too close together, which stiffens my arms and pulls my shoulders forward.

I do have more kick to my leg in these videos because I am trying to over- emphasize the hips opening and closing just so that I can get a feel of it- they have since quieted now that I have a sense of the motion.

Also please note: in the trot video, I was going back and forth between stiff and following so that I could feel in my body what the difference is.

trot: http://youtu.be/xlJYfdrxjy4
Left lead canter: http://youtu.be/u_xjlspUYNU
Right lead canter: http://youtu.be/OrminRlk4r4

Reddfox
Aug. 10, 2011, 08:39 PM
Watching your video, I have to wonder how much of your vertical motion is caused by you and how much is caused by the horse, who appears to have limited longitudinal flexibility. I think it's a great idea of yours to ask to ride different horses, and hopefully you can get on a horse with greater suppleness, which will help you develop your seat.

It looks if you're trying very hard to hold yourself in position and keep your seat in the saddle. As we New Englanders say, "you can't get there from here." All the effort to have a proper position and contact with the saddle is translating into a very tight upper back that makes you rock there (rather than, the way you perceive it, in your pelvis), stiff legs and elbows. Instead of thinking about putting your shoulders back, try thinking about tucking them into your back pockets. Also think about letting every joint in your body move (Anne Kursinski talks about "oily joints" and that's just as important for dressage as it is for jumping). Then see if things don't start to fall into place.

One last thing: it's important to bear in mind that really strong abs can work against you. Some people strengthen their abs and think that gives them a strong core, but it doesn't and often works against a rider's ability to absorb the movement fluidly. Your core is behind your abs, in the center of your body, and it works with diaphragmatic breathing. Do you tend to hold your breath when you ride?

Best of luck to you as you work so hard to improve your riding. I look forward to an update, and I'm sure I'm not alone there.

Thank you! This is great advice for me and good observations. The horse is an 18 year old Andalusian, he is getting stiffer and he has a LOT of vertical movement to his trot, he is VERY hard for me to sit to - so I hold myself in place. The last lesson that I had after I talked to my instructor about all this was much better and I let myself go a little more and suddenly I had a horse in front of me - which was a whole different feeling.

Ditto on the piece about my abs/core relationship. I tend to get muscle-bound. I have VERY strong abs and they tend to overpower everything. I have found in the last few weeks that I have to almost feel like I am stretching my front up so that I don't just crunch down because I think that I'm engaging my core.

I will absolutely keep these things in mind!

GreyStreet
Aug. 10, 2011, 09:33 PM
Well, no sage advice from me - I can only say, I totally relate to having tight hips. I carry a lot of tension in my lower back - I have a back injury and also I think the stress I carry tends to just ball itself up in my lower back and hips. My instructor is constantly working on this with me - I am MUCH better in the sitting trot but still struggle with my position at the canter. My tight hips make me want to bounce a bit and it's very much affecting my ability to transition from the canter to the walk on my mare. Not so oddly enough, when I ensure that I am stretching up tall and really consciously relaxing and moving my hips with the horse instead of against - I nail it every time.

My instructor basically told me I need to do two things - get a hula hoop and have more...well, you get it ;)...still haven't bought the hula hoop, but the analogy works for me. I was having trouble moving my hips with the motion of the canter without really squeezing my butt muscles as well - my tendency to want to tighten and drive at the same time. My instructor asked me if a person has to squeeze her butt to get a hula hoop to successfully stay up. As weird as it sounds, that was kind of a light bulb for me. I knew it all along, but just couldn't consciously get the idea to connect in my body - that my tension and hips don't HAVE to be intertwined...I CAN move my hips as fluidly as I want without having to hold tension elsewhere.

At any rate, it's something I'm constantly working on, so I relate to your struggle! My tendency is more to tighten and crunch when I get tense or tired, but I'm chipping away at it. I just watched my tests from the show last weekend and although I had hoped for better scores, I was really proud of the improvement in my position and the steadiness of our tests overall. Can't wait to get all the pieces together and really blow it out of the water - one day!

easyrider
Aug. 10, 2011, 10:05 PM
I'm glad you found my advice and observations useful, and that you are experimenting with the many good suggestions that you've gotten here. I just watched your latest clips and you do look softer and more following in your seat. That's fantastic. Keep up the good work!

Petstorejunkie
Aug. 10, 2011, 10:43 PM
hmmmmm I'm noticing a trend.
your idea of forward isn't forward enough. one visual I learned just yesterday is push the saddle forward but don't push in the saddle. ultimately if you visualize sending the saddle forward with you in it, and the horse attached to it, you don't move, wiggle, break at the waist, etc but the horse launches forward.
now when I think of doing lengthenings and mediums i hear "SADDLE!!!!" and my horse kicks it up a gear.

Kaluna
Aug. 11, 2011, 12:16 AM
Re Post 71:

1. you and your piebald seem to be making great progress, you guys look good together. He could be more articulating but not too too much more forward for his work. He looks like he has a lot more to build on. What level is he at? How old is he? You guys look good and his markings will get you noticed - for better or worse so capitalize on that!

2. Can you please send some of that greenery out my way? :) Lovely barn.

Reddfox
Aug. 11, 2011, 12:04 PM
Re Post 71:

1. you and your piebald seem to be making great progress, you guys look good together. He could be more articulating but not too too much more forward for his work. He looks like he has a lot more to build on. What level is he at? How old is he? You guys look good and his markings will get you noticed - for better or worse so capitalize on that!

2. Can you please send some of that greenery out my way? :) Lovely barn.

Thanks Kaluna! Unfortunately, this is not my horse either :lol: My mare has come up with a mysterious lameness for the first time in the 12 years that I've owned her. Luckily for me, I have plenty of horsey friends and wonderful horses that are willing to help keep me riding during this time.

The piebald is a 13 y/o mare that is solid first, schooling second level very well. She is built a touch downhill, but that doesn't seem to stop her. She is an absolute BLAST to ride!

Also, if I could share the greenery - I would. We've been pretty blessed her with the weather- one and half weeks of 100 degree misery, but recently we've had rain and gorgeous low humidity weather!

@petstorejunkie...my sense of things is often NQR. I think I'm speeding around, and I'm not. I think that I'm in a consistent rhythm and I'm not. It makes for some very interesting dancing :lol::lol: I work on it, and I count to myself. I'm not a naturally gifted rider - but lucky for me, I am a very tactile learner - So, if I feel it once - I can keep trying to match it. A work in progress, that's for sure!

raff
Aug. 13, 2011, 06:17 AM
I'm so happy to see this ! Go you:)

fish
Aug. 13, 2011, 08:27 AM
Ok, I debated uploading new videos, but I thought, "what the heck," this will be a transformation and may help someone else who is experiencing similar issues.

This is me a week after this thread started - I've made improvements since these videos because I've been stretching and doing a lot of exercises to help mobility.

This is just me incorporating the advice of fellow COTHers, It's not night and day obviously, but I think that I have more forward, and I think that I am a bit softer. I will continue to work on these issues, but I'm happy that the overall appearance is already a tiny bit improved and I feel as though it's a bit more harmonious and softer. I do see that I also have a tendency to carry my hands way too close together, which stiffens my arms and pulls my shoulders forward.

I do have more kick to my leg in these videos because I am trying to over- emphasize the hips opening and closing just so that I can get a feel of it- they have since quieted now that I have a sense of the motion.

Also please note: in the trot video, I was going back and forth between stiff and following so that I could feel in my body what the difference is.

trot: http://youtu.be/xlJYfdrxjy4
Left lead canter: http://youtu.be/u_xjlspUYNU
Right lead canter: http://youtu.be/OrminRlk4r4

Just watched the trot video and want to congratulate you on the huge improvement :)

fairtheewell
Aug. 17, 2011, 09:24 AM
I second Fish's comment. Thumbs up.

betsyk
Aug. 17, 2011, 11:09 AM
Major kudos to you for making all this effort!

do you ever ride bareback? I find on the days my hips are particularly tight and my back is bothering me (note I have some of your same hip/back issues but have not made as much effort to address them!) that riding bareback, especially at the sitting trot, makes them feel a lot better and makes my horse a very happy camper. Often I find some little detail during our bareback rides that I can carry over to work in the saddle later. Give it a try someday - I'd be curious to know if it helps you, too, or gives you any insight into the tight hips/stiffness issues.

netg
Aug. 17, 2011, 08:56 PM
So it's probably relevant to this thread... I posted about the massage I've been getting because I was so stiff.


Turns out the reason behind the muscular stiffness was that the muscles were protecting me, because I have degeneration and my SI joints were all misaligned. The looseness from massage, riding four horses on Sunday, riding one large sideways spook... all combined to make me wake up Monday in PAIN.

But the positive is, this means I can now heal, even if I have to stay out of the saddle for two weeks. It's VERY fixable, and though I couldn't really walk but had to shuffle to move on Monday, today I am up and about without pain, and looking forward to handwalking my horse in a bit.


Moral of my story was to say, if you have some back pain at times and think there's anything going on besides your just not being very flexible in general, please get it checked out with the appropriate professional! You REALLY don't want to end up feeling like I did on Monday. :)