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  1. #1
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    Default Core Strength II

    I hear this term used but never explained. Is core strength mainly strength in the abdomen and stomach muscles?

    How does having core strength improve your riding? I mean what do you do with this strength?



  2. #2
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    Core strength is in your abdomenal, lateral, and back muscles.

    Strength in your core can improve your riding because it improves your sense of stability on the horse and lets you develop an independent seat--you don't have to rely on just your arms and legs to keep you on and to cue the horse.

    So, if the horse does something unexpected you are less likely to fall off. If you're jumping the horse, you can keep your weight balanced over the horse's center of gravity while you give an appropriate release to the horse's head and cue him with your leg to turn left or right or whatever.

    You can half-halt more effectively (or more properly) rather than just using the reins, etc.
    "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Posting Trot View Post
    Core strength is in your abdomenal, lateral, and back muscles.

    Strength in your core can improve your riding because it improves your sense of stability on the horse and lets you develop an independent seat--you don't have to rely on just your arms and legs to keep you on and to cue the horse.

    So, if the horse does something unexpected you are less likely to fall off. If you're jumping the horse, you can keep your weight balanced over the horse's center of gravity while you give an appropriate release to the horse's head and cue him with your leg to turn left or right or whatever.

    You can half-halt more effectively (or more properly) rather than just using the reins, etc.
    This. It also makes it much easier to maintain correct posture in and out of the saddle.
    I've heard there's more to life than an FEI tent and hotel rooms, so I'm trying it.



  4. #4
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    Default

    Does it help keep you from getting off balance?



  5. #5
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    IMO, in the sense that having the strength will help you develop and independent seat, yes.
    I've heard there's more to life than an FEI tent and hotel rooms, so I'm trying it.



  6. #6
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    Does it help keep you from getting off balance?
    Absolutely!!! I went from no core strength to working out and getting a stronger core. I really noticed a difference, it allows you to add more tools to your tool box. I could hold myself and keep from getting tipped/pulled forward when my horse leans on the bit. I also noticed I was much more effective with the half halt and helping my horse keep a more even pace at the trot.



  7. #7
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    Default

    Of course a strong core help keep you from getting off balance.

    Try this exercise: Sit on one of the chairs that have the wheels at the bottom. Keep your feet of the ground, and then ask someone to push the chair to one side or the other strongly.

    Now when the chair roll out from under you, your butt will follow the chair but what happen to your shoulders or your lower legs?

    First try to pretend you have zero core strength, i.e., flapping all over. When your chair gets rolled to one side, your shoulder will fall back, your legs will flip up, and then you might tumble over the chair. This is what happen when you fall off a horse when the horse moves unexpectedly.

    Now try to use your core with this exercise. When your chair gets rolled over to one side or the other, engage your core so your shoulder remain vertical to your hip, and your legs remain down (instead of flipping up). You will feel one side of your core to engage depending on which direction the chair is beging pushed. A person with strong core will be able to firmly plant his/her seat bones into the chair and will not have a problem keeping his/her shoulders vertical stacked above the hips.

    This is also very similiar to white water rafting. A person with strong core will have no problem balancing on the boat regardless how the boat is tilted one way or the other while a person with weak core with every tiny bump will probably flip over into the water.



  8. #8
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    Does it help keep you from getting off balance?
    Yes.

    Without core strength you don't have control of your body's movement while it's sitting on a moving object.
    Without control of your body, you don't have balance.
    Without balance, you're incapable of an independent seat, hands or legs.
    Without independent seat, hands and legs...you're unable to fine tune or completely control any ride regardless of discipline.

    When your core is strong, it balances your body. When your body is balanced, it frees up your hands, legs and seat to do something other than stay on the horse. Without core strength and balance, you're a passenger.


    Check this popular video of Stacy Westfall doing tack-free reining. *Watch* her body as she rides. She's riding at speed on and off and performing moves that normally would throw a body completely off balance. Yet at all times her hands, legs and seat are unoccupied with staying on and are able to cue to the horse for whatever she wants it to do.
    Watch particularly close to the spins and slides. She doesn't grip right with her legs or brace herself with her arms/hands. Yet her seat stays where it should and her upper body stays where it needs to be to stay balanced. Even during a spin, when force would make someone without core strength sway to one side or during a stop where someone without core strength would slide up the withers and neck.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoW4c...eature=related

    Core strength translates to all disciplines. Dressage, jumping, etc.

    In jumping, the height of the fence doesn't matter if the rider has enough core strength. This rider is staying with the motion of the horse and his core strength is holding him there without irons, without mane, without reins:
    http://www.kyfarrier.com/yahoo_site_...103254_std.jpg
    IN dressage you're not going to be sitting the trot or performing a test bareback without major core strength. (and control) The rider isn't gripping with her legs to stay on, nor is she grabbing the mane or the horse's mouth through the reins to stay on. And she's staying with the motion of the horse, free to use her entire body for the ride.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXU3xjVpdI4

    Without core strength the rider is busy compensating balance by using arms, seat and legs. Lack of core srength can/will result in bouncing seat, swinging legs, grippy legs, bouncing hands, accidental rein yanking/mouth jabbing, etc.

    Without complete control of your center, the rest of the body isn't able to be controlled.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  9. #9
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    Default

    Does this make sense? I have been riding with relaxed core muscles -- I thought you were supposed to ride relaxed. Since I've read about core strength I've been keeping my muscles controlled and it seems I move around less -- but it's a little bit of work. I think I HAVE core strength, but didn't know I was supposed to be using it



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by altjaeger View Post
    Does it help keep you from getting off balance?
    Yes.

    And you're not supposed to ride TENSE. To utilize core strength doesn't require clenching all the time. The muscles just have to be strong, which means off-the-horse work. After I started doing crunches for dance and skating, when I got back on a horse I had better posture and position than I had back when riding was my primary activity.



  11. #11
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    But if you have really slow reflexes, if you don't keep slightly tensed, it takes too long to correct when you notice you are getting, or have gotten, off balance. And I have really slow reflexes!



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by altjaeger View Post
    Does this make sense? I have been riding with relaxed core muscles -- I thought you were supposed to ride relaxed. Since I've read about core strength I've been keeping my muscles controlled and it seems I move around less -- but it's a little bit of work. I think I HAVE core strength, but didn't know I was supposed to be using it
    Well, you have to be relaxed but engaged, if that makes sense. At no point in time, if you really are actively riding, should it be any less than a little bit of work Riding is hard work! And there are different degrees of engaging my core, say holding myself upright versus executing a half halt.



  13. #13
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    You should be "relaxed" in the sense that you're not tense, but your core should be engaged.

    To put it in a horse-ier sense, think about dressage. We don't want our horses to be tense, we want them relaxed. But we also want them engaging their hind end and their abdominal muscles ("coming over the back" or "through the back" "round" etc).

    So, in a similar way to how we want our horses engaged but relaxed, we should ride with our muscles engaged but relaxed.

    Does that make any sense at all to anyone but me?
    I've heard there's more to life than an FEI tent and hotel rooms, so I'm trying it.



  14. #14
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    Well, I like the word "engaged". That's what I guess I've been doing in the last week or so.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by altjaeger View Post
    Does this make sense? I have been riding with relaxed core muscles -- I thought you were supposed to ride relaxed. Since I've read about core strength I've been keeping my muscles controlled and it seems I move around less -- but it's a little bit of work. I think I HAVE core strength, but didn't know I was supposed to be using it
    I can get multiple different effects from the same horse just walking, by relaxing my core and allowing my pelvis to move or tightening my core and restricting my pelvic motion or playing around with the two. I can get a rapid forward walk or I can go all the way to a relaxed longer striding walk, but in order to control my lower back and pelvis I have got to have some muscle tone, some awareness of how much I am moving or not moving, and the ability to do it for a while. I've never understood engagement as it was a term that got popular while I was out of riding, but awareness and tone may be the same.
    You will most definitely ride better, just as you will perform most sports better, if you use a conditioning program apart from riding (the sport), and do total body strength training and cardio.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



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