Northern Virginia, 45 minutes east of paradise - 2 hrs during rush hour
12 years of public school PE and 2 years of it in University...
And not once, not ONCE did any teacher ever talk about asymmetry. Nothing. Nada. Not a peep. And I hated PE with a passion.
After that there were 2 years of weekly dressage riding instruction by a student of Hilda Gurney's in the late 80s. No mention there either. I should have been suspicious when one calf became HUGE compared to the other.
I'm now in my fifties and finally getting straight. My pelvis is crooked, my shoulders are crooked. I'm twisted through 3 dimensions and sometimes I suspect 4
But I'm getting better
BTW Thai Yoga Massage is the BOMB for untwisting the body.
Sorry, I just really had to say this.
"The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"
"...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x
I recently became a bit obsessed with correcting my and my horse's crookedness. I find it to be overlooked all the time, and unfortunately, it's often the cause of many problems.
My winter riding goals are founded solidly in beginning to even out both sides of my and my horse's body. Something as simple as switching the whip into the left hand took about 5 months for me to get used to. I really had to force myself to do it. Even so, it's still foreign enough that I notice it more in that hand.
My left side does things I'm not really even aware of yet. I've been videoing myself to help figure it out. I know my lower left leg moves more and doesn't turn in as much as my right - mostly because of the wear pattern on my saddle and half chaps.
Yesterday, I decided to try getting on and off my horse from the right side just to see if I could. He didn't bat an eye, but lord was it awkward for me! Guess I'll be doing that for a while.
Excellent discussion! I rode for years without any comments on my own crookedness. I knew something was wrong, because I could see in the arena mirrors a definite twisting in the rising trot to the left.
I was born left-handed, but my folks trained me to use my right hand before I got to grade school. Common wisdom of the time. I think that resulted in unexpected asymmetries. Even though I am now right-handed, I am left-eyed and apparently left-footed. My right leg was weaker until I began using exercises to strengthen it. Rotating my trunk to the right (as you'd do for half-pass right, for instance) was awkward if not impossible.
This trunk-rotation problem was retarding progress, and try as I might, I just. could. not. make it happen on my own. So I invented an exercise to try to get more mobility in my trunk -- and it worked! In case this might help someone else -- here it is:
Get a hula-hoop. I have one of the heavier Danskin ones. I found out that it's next to impossible to hula with it while fully clothed, so I hula-hoop in the morning in my undies. (Ewwww.) But I digress. Practice rotating the hoop both directions. For some people, this is plenty of challenge at first. Once you can rotate the hoop either direction, start adding shoulder movements, slowly swinging right and left, while hooping. Once you get this down, try hooping in a "lunge" position (doesn't have to be an extreme position -- just one foot in front of the other a bit...). Hoop both ways in the lunge position, changing feet occasionally. Add shoulder swings.
I "fixed" my right-side stiffness by concentrating on a right-handed rotation with my shoulders while hooping. A couple of weeks of this variation and voila! I could ride my horse with ease in right half-pass!
Proud owner of one Lunar acre! (Campanus Crater, The Moon)
This is one of the things that makes me the most crazy with instructors. I was lucky enough to find one that had studied with some great people and researched this, via Mary Wanless clinics (for corrections). It made a HUGE difference in my riding and how my horses work for me. Will I ever be dead on center and 100% balanced? Probably not, and only due to some of my own conformational flaws that are permanent. But I can be as close as possible and my horses thank me for it!
When your weight aid is SO effective on a horse and it takes so little (if you're doing dressage correctly) to get your horse to work well and stay in balance, why in the world would most instructors be blind to this? Well, my guess is that too many are naturals. Just listen to Catherine Haddad-Staller in her articles about learning in Germany. She says that they didn't say much about fixing HER, but rather focused on the horse. That's great for naturals with amazing natural balance, short waists, long legs and long arms. Try being the 80-90% rest of the dressage riding world.
Then again, instructors teach what students want when they need a pay check. They often just let them go off doing things a bit half-a** so that the student feels happy. Most are not trying to get to the upper levels, so it's really not as big a deal and a lot are happy with just getting a ribbon at a lower level in a schooling show and playing with Second Level movements at home.
Yes! I am so lucky to have really started my formal riding lessons with an instructor interested in this. That and my years of ballet as a child are my only saving grace, as I have all kinds of asymmetries from a neuromuscular disorder. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to audit a Wanless clinic next year...
...about learning in Germany. She says that they didn't say much about fixing HER, but rather focused on the horse. ...
Interesting because every teacher there I know focused 99% on why the horse was doing what it was doing which was almost always the 'effect of the rider's seat/aids/balance'. Equitation/alignment/timing ARE almost always responsible.
I finally found a wonderful instructor who works on me and me alone. It's a bit frustrating (and hard!) But I can tell its working, my horses are becoming lighter, more forward and just easier all around. so its worth the grind (and soreness afterward) every second week to focus on my crookedness.
I can play with the fun stuff on my own.
Last edited by partlycloudy; Nov. 23, 2012 at 07:39 AM.
Then there are those trainers/instructors who are totally clueless and PROUD of it: I heard one say, "I don't teach equitation, I teach them how to make the horse perform...." (whatever). Ah. And rider poisition doesn't affect that, apparently? That student of yours tipping forward with her heels up? Doesn't affect the horse's balance or ability to perform. Okay.
You think it is bad that a PE teacher does not know about the problem. Ha, ha! Most orthopedic surgeons do not know either, or how it affects future movement. I had a knee replacement some years back, and in looking at the x-rays after the surgery, it was quite clear that my knee angles no longer matched in the way they did previous to the surgery. I asked the surgeon how soon the other knee might break down, and he said, "What do you mean?" Never is the change of the angles in relationship to the motion transfer from side-to-side ever discussed apparently, even in med training. Mostly, the body is studied in isolated areas without regard as to how a change in one area affects another area.
I can't comment on the PE side of things beyond that when I was in school playing sports that encouraged a dominant side/diagonal (Tennis, Hockey, etc) were discouraged by my riding instructors - primarily my mother!
For our training system, it is always about making the horse and rider equal on both sides...a never ending struggle but things are so much less complicated (won't use the word "easy") if you and the horse are less one sided/handed.