I find myself having weird experiences when working on position with my trainer. She will say "find your core", explain, demonstrate exactly what to do, and I really cannot feel much changing unless I go completely rigid and tense everywhere. Also, my right seatbone? Where is it? Most of the time I really don't know. The left one is definitely there but I have to wiggle and push to find the right one.
I have had Type 1 diabetes since I was 11, so 37 years now. I do have some pelvic neuropathy that causes no pain, but definitely affects nerve function (I have "overactive bladder" from that... not incontinence, but just feeling like I need to "go" most of the time.) So that might be part of it. I also had a bad fall a few years back and know I am not anywhere near symmetric. My left shoulder is permanently squished (there is a metal plate holding my left clavicle together), and my left hip is "tricky." I tend to roll the right shoulder in, too... maybe trying to balance with what the left is doing?
I did see a chiropractor for a while, but he got to a point where he said he really couldn't do useful adjustments because the parts he needed to move (e.g. left shoulder) do not move. And I didn't find it terribly helpful anyway.
I've never been a terribly athletic person, and "body unawareness" I suspect has been in my life for a long, long time. I became a re-rider in late 2006 and bought my horse in 2008 -- a lifelong dream! Lost 35 pounds in the first 2 years, have gained maybe 10 pounds back recently (NO thanks to the Big M).
I'm not as beat up as you by a long shot although I have (I think) more than my fair share of aches and pains, but I was one of those clumsy kids that sat on the bench or out in left field.
First find something to do. Sitting on the bench did zero to improve my skills.
I started going to the gym and eventually ended up in martial arts - I doubt I'd manage that style nowadays but it helped me quite a bit to get awareness.
Tai Chi is a martial art that can be done by all ages and requires that you think about where you are, very valuable. Not always available everywhere though.
Yoga is good if you choose the simpler less stressful poses. There are many that don't require extreme flexibility. We have a DVD by Priscilla, she's over 60 so her beginner exercises are reasonable and can be done at home.
Skip Pilates. It's a wonderful suite of exercises but really not suited to anyone not already in pretty good shape. If you work out and improve in your body awareness over time then give it a shot but don't start unless you can find a baby beginner class. Trust me.
DH and I bought a Wii Fit after he put the kibosh on Zumba classes due to scheduling. It's a seductive toy, cute and peppy with exercises of all types from balance to aerobics. It computes your BMI and tests reflexes to give you your Wii Fit age - I've been 62 and a week later 44. my avatar is also a little portly.
But the bottom line is to find an activity you can perform and keep up with it. Extra curricular exercise if performed mindfully will help you greatly on the horse, especially balance exercises.
Thanks! I have done tai chi in the past but have to find a class that fits my schedule. (just found a possible one, from the guy I used to take it with...) If there was tai chi between home and barn, you bet I'd be there. It's a lot harder than it looks.
I've done the occasional very-very beginner level yoga video, too. If a pose doesn't agree with me, I modify it to suit.
I wouldn't bail on pilates just yet. Look for a class through your local HMO or hospital for people who've had injuries. I stumbled into an excellent spine class after seeing a PT for back pain; it was run by a PTA who was also a personal trainer, and she knew how to help everyone with their various limitations. She blended some standard exercise class stuff with a bit of yoga and snuck in a lot of pilates. I wish I'd been able to continue it forever, because it made a big difference. It wasn't in the regular brochure that's sent by the HMO every season, but it was available with referral and didn't cost anything because it was offered through the HMO.
I would recommend tracking down a certified Feldenkrais practitioner (who I go to) or Alexander or some other body work person (of which I don't know that I would consider Pilates to fall under).
I have been doing Feldenkrais for almost 10 years. I have significant scoliosis and Feldenkrais has helped loosen things up. Additionally, it really has helped with my body awareness (not necessarily "core strength"). I can tap in, via my mind/brain, to a part of my body that I want to "talk" to and know I am making the connection.
Yoga--and having a good yoga instructor who takes the time to really explain the poses and adjusts you so that you are doing them correctly--helped me a lot with this. It was a real ephipany for me and I realized that, before yoga, I had never had any body awareness at all because I had never been taught it, either by doing a sport or in phys. ed. Everything I did as a kid--I was a decent swimmer--was instinctual or learned by imitating others.