Could you please share your helpful tips for posture?
Posture. Its amazing what an effect it has on the horse and its equally amazing how easy it is to have poor posture while seated. It seems as if its easier to maintain good posture riding than driving.
I have bad habits. I slump, I drop my chin, I scootch forward in my seat so I'm setting on the edge and have a big bend in my knee. I tend to carry my hands too high and I rotate my hands inward. I tend to drop my left shoulder and sit crooked too.
Much of the scootching and knee bending is a defensive action on my part when I'm in the woods. Most of our trails are extremely tight ("I can't believe we made it" tight ) and I've found that if I'm scootched forward with a big bend in my knees I can spread my feet for a wider stance, press down on the floor and push myself back into my seat and feel vastly more stable. My hands can be more independent too as I can just let my seat bones be glued to the seat, let my hips and mid section be loose and absorb the action and let my upper trunk and shoulders remain relatively still.
But when I emerge from a tight spot and hit an easy path, I suddenly realize I'm sitting like Quasimodo.
I am *finally* getting into the good habit when my pony is going incorrectly of checking on myself first and fixing *me* before fixing him and it is shaming me into being better about it all, but its a slow process.
A very nice person gave me a great bit of advice once when she saw me creeping: "Drive like you mean it." Which is great for me, I sit up straight, put my butt back in my chair, square my shoulders, lift my chin, straighten my legs, but I slowly creep back to Quasimodo position.
I did read a helpful tip of rotating my right leg out which has been immensely helpful in squaring my seatbones which helps square my shoulders, which helps bring my hands back to where they should be, but again... being consistent is a process.
So, was wondering if anyone could share tips, tricks or sayings and/or visualizations that your trainers told you for helping with posture.
The more sayings and tips I can bombard myself with the faster I will develop good habits.
There are no instant "Do This - and its all fixed"
You have to work at it and winter is the perfect time for that work
If the weather is 'more questionable' you spend time in the ring where you can get the horse going 'reasonably' and work on yourself
in the long run it will help the horse - so you dont have to feel guilty about not 'always' concentrating on the horses improvement.
Also dont try to do it all - all at once. Pick an aspect and work on it
I would suggest hands and arms. Once you get into better habits with that you expand to better seat position.
But if you try to fix everything all at once you are going to forget and lapse and then just give up on it all
You started with bad had habits when you were driving the too low exercize cart and your horse was playing games with his tail - so you held your hands exaggeratedly high.
So now pick how you are going to work on that and just - DO IT
For me - one thing that is easy to concentrate on is arms down by your sides and bent at the elbow. Hands forward - just below the level of your breasts. Not too low or you are ineffective
and not too high or you dont have control or force
Concentrate on good hand control of the reins and subtle commands
Keep your arms where they belong! (easier said than done) - but keep the thought in your brain and you will find yourself to self-correct when you lapse
Take the winter time to work on your habits and give yourself the best of days to go out and yahoo a bit - but even then - try to keep control of the habit you want to correct.
The thought is, that it takes 10,000 repititions to engrain a new habit and commit it to muscle memory
So . . . practice makes perfect!
Last edited by Drive NJ; Jan. 21, 2013 at 11:52 AM.
You may need a Trainer to help evaluate your vehicle seat, what it allows or prevents you from doing correctly.
With the big knee bend, sounds like you need to move seat back, raise it, change something for using using leg length up. If you have your legs almost straight forward, you have braced your seat to give you a better angle for sitting. Sitting in a "chair seat" with knees bent 90* won't help hold you in a good driving position!
Do you have a firm seat on the carriage itself? With synthetic fabric seats, they can be REALLY slippery with various pants fabric. A piece of that rubber shelf liner material can give you a great grip to keep your rear planted over rough ground, tired body slumping at the end of a long day doesn't move the pelvis on synthetic fabric seat, so you are not having to brace legs so hard your feet go to sleep.
When you lean forward, do you shorten the reins too? A colored piece of tape on reins when hands are correct because your body position is correct, could be a visible marker for you. No color in your hand? WAKE UP, SIT UP, and fix things.
Anything you can put under that arm you drop? If your elbow gets that low, hitting the item (pillow tied on rail?) is a reminder to lift shoulder if you lose track.
You might get a neighborhood group of horse folks together, go out and clean, trim back growth of your trails. This is a BIG DEAL on our Public Trails, where various groups put in time keeping the Trails open for all, SAFE to use. No one needs to hit a head or legs on skinny Trails if going faster than a crawl. Many hands make light work! Riders are as high as a Driver, so same kind of trimming back is needed for each discipline to be safe using these trails. You also need to HAUL OUT the trimmings, as good neighbors, to prevent trash build up in those areas.
Great tips everyone thank you!! I agree this is an ongoing process, but it helps to have input from others, gives me more things to think about and that helps me become more proactive.
My seat is actually perfect distance for my leg length, *I* just have a habit of wanting to be scrunched up (I drive my truck that way too, I have the seat closer to the steering wheel than someone of my height would ordinarily do, I like a big bend in my knee and hate the feeling of reaching for the pedals). The seat is synthetic suede, its very grippy, its *me* that scooches forward I have to convince my muscle memory that I should want to have my legs straighter.
Yes I do shorten my reins too, so the colored tape idea is brilliant thank you!!
The public trails in my area are largely sugar sand, far too deep to ask my horse to pull us through, so I drive primarily around the 6 miles of trail on the farm. The BO is fantastic about keeping the trails clear, and I go walk them before driving if I haven't been out in a while or if there's been a storm. I hate coming around a bend only to find a log down.
They are just wide enough for us, but very tight and twisty, a lot of tight turns around trees, etc., and tight go-arounds by the jumps. I am very proud that my horse and I negotiate such tight trails as well as we do, I'm getting good with planning ahead, and my horse is very confident and becoming very obedient which is great. I just get so focused on the tight maneuvering and like the stability of having my knees be bent and flexible that I scooch.
I love the idea about putting something under my arm! Thank you! I had been contemplating the idea of putting a crop or small branch behind my back and through my elbows for a few minutes here and there to force myself to develop muscle memory.
Yes, this all stems from my early start in the jog cart. I was forced to slump forward with hands too high and my body just decided that is what feels 'normal'.