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  1. #1
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    Default Relaxing your seat?

    I'm not sure if this is the correct forum for this, but here goes....

    I've never been a fan of riding bareback, but I got on last night with the thought to help condition my muscles and develop some better strength without having to rely on the saddle.

    It was VERY obvious that everything around my seat is very tense. I mean clenchy tense to the point of not being able to give my mare much to carry other than (must have been two very pointy) seat bones. Instead of feeling like I was draping/hugging her with my seat and legs, it felt like I was perched on her spine by sheer willpower of butt cheeks alone.

    I think I do this while in a saddle as well, it just isn't as obvious (though I do have a problem with not being able to open my hip angles fully). Even sitting in my chair here I feel tense regardless of not actively engaging my butt muscles. This probably provides her with a resistant weight to carry which in turn contributes to some of the lack of engagement she has.

    Does anyone have any things to think about to get myself to relax or similarly, exercises I can do in the saddle to get my seat to release? I have been working with someone to help me open my hip angles and I do intend to talk to her about this the next time I ride with her, but I'd be thankful for any tips in the mean time.

    Thanks!


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  2. #2
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    Look up exercises to stretch out your periformis
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  3. #3
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    This is why so many of us recommend against no stirrup work or bareback for folks with specific issues. It can be great for some people, but makes tension issues worse, as you experienced.


    Piriformis and hip flexor stretches for sure. For me, consciously tightening then releasing helps me feel the tightening and learn to release it when it's not happening intentionally, too. I also find the simple act of turning my thighs so my knees and toes point forward helps me relax.


    You also need a strong core to support. A lot of tension comes from lack of confidence in the ability to hold yourself. I find the stronger my core the more easily I can "drape" and sit softly. Just remember core is essentially armpits to knees, and you should strengthen symmetrically - front and back. My asymmetry in my legs (stronger quads) has been a big source of tightness for me.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    This is why so many of us recommend against no stirrup work or bareback for folks with specific issues. It can be great for some people, but makes tension issues worse, as you experienced.
    But sometimes you never know you have the issue till you're perched uncomfortably on a horse's spine. It helped to really illustrate for me the problems I had a sneaking suspicion that I'm suffering from.

    Piriformis and hip flexor stretches for sure.
    Thanks PSJ and netg. I'll do a look up.

    You also need a strong core to support. A lot of tension comes from lack of confidence in the ability to hold yourself. I find the stronger my core the more easily I can "drape" and sit softly. Just remember core is essentially armpits to knees, and you should strengthen symmetrically - front and back. My asymmetry in my legs (stronger quads) has been a big source of tightness for me.
    I'm a desk jockey in my other life, so it's tight hamstrings for me. Just a quick Google-ing confirms that it's (sitting constantly) probably the root of the issues I'm having (one perpetually tense set of muscles with a perpetually lax set of muscles causing imbalance between the sets and everything that connects to it) .

    You're right about some of the tension from feeling like I wasn't particularly stable, but I did get a hang of it after a bit by engaging everything that space between hip and armpit -- I felt like I never had to work those muscles that hard before when riding so I must be using the saddle as a crutch.

    Looks like its time to pull out the pilates videos again.



  5. #5
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    Great thread and very timely for me as I attempt to get back in the saddle myself, and I know this is also a problem for me. Thanks for posting it!
    Alis volat propriis.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by VaqueroToro View Post
    You're right about some of the tension from feeling like I wasn't particularly stable, but I did get a hang of it after a bit by engaging everything that space between hip and armpit -- I felt like I never had to work those muscles that hard before when riding so I must be using the saddle as a crutch.

    Looks like its time to pull out the pilates videos again.
    That's the part we as riders tend to overuse a lot of the time - you need core support from your knees up. NOT squeezing on your horse, but supporting yourself - or if you only use obliques and lats you'll find yourself wobbling like a weebil. Ask me how I know....
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  7. #7
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    Piriformis/Psoas lunge
    Piriformis Pigeon
    Standing piriformis pigeon
    Table Psoas

    Hold each stretch for a count of 20, then go into the stretch a bit more for another 20 seconds. Don't bounce, and dont stretch short on time.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  8. #8
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    There's a great Yoga exercise you can do laying in bed. Start at the top of your head and relax each part of your body working down. Then engage them each working back up and relax down again. Transfer this to mounted work.
    "I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted". - Anonymous


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    Hold each stretch for a count of 20, then go into the stretch a bit more for another 20 seconds. Don't bounce, and dont stretch short on time.
    Thanks!
    There looks to be a variant of the piriformis pigeon that I can do while sitting in a chair, so it's something I can work on while at work. I just tried it and I'm definitely tight in that area.



  10. #10
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    If you tighten the wrong muscles when riding, I have found it helpful to tighten, then relax, the various muscle groups. You can do this while driving, sitting at your desk, walking around...

    Now and then I have students who have trouble using the right muscles without tightening everything else up. I advise them to practice tightening their buttocks but nothing else, then relaxing the buttocks and tightening up the abs, then relaxing them. You can do the same with any other muscle groups that are problematic (lower legs, thighs, shoulders/arms...)

    Separating and isolating the various body parts seems to help raise awareness of these parts. And remember: tight buttock muscles will "bounce" and inhibit your ability to follow the horse's motion, as well as affect the motion through seat aids. I learned this the hard way!


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThreeFigs View Post
    And remember: tight buttock muscles will "bounce" and inhibit your ability to follow the horse's motion, as well as affect the motion through seat aids. I learned this the hard way!
    I have trouble at this even on a slow, jogging horse. I can relax from the waist up and throughout the lower leg, but everything from hip to knee is tight. It takes me a long time to "release"...usually at the end of the lesson I'm finally relaxed enough throughout my seat to finally follow along.

    I'll keep the tighten/relax in mind the next time I'm in the saddle.

    I did a lot of the stretches Petstorejunkie linked last night after getting home and even after making sure I was steadily breathing through each stretch, it took a very long time to get the muscles to give up the "clenchies", but once they did, it was like a switch had gone off -- I was nicely Gumby-like. I hope it'll take less and less time to go Gumby and then maybe I can do the stretches before I hop in the saddle.



  12. #12
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    here's a little tidbit of info....
    your psoas and your glutes can not contract at the same time. therefore if your bum is tense, the psoas can't work.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    Piriformis/Psoas lunge
    Piriformis Pigeon
    Standing piriformis pigeon
    Table Psoas

    Hold each stretch for a count of 20, then go into the stretch a bit more for another 20 seconds. Don't bounce, and dont stretch short on time.
    These are great exercises but just want to add that do them "after" warming up. Cold muscles don't stretch well.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    here's a little tidbit of info....
    your psoas and your glutes can not contract at the same time. therefore if your bum is tense, the psoas can't work.
    Sorry to resurrect this post, but I think I finally get what you were trying to tell me!

    I've been working with someone to help my seat -- I tend to wing my legs out instead of keeping them parallel to the horse's body so I end up riding with the backs of my thighs instead of the insides of my thighs. I applied some of the things I had been working on with her to riding bareback again today.

    If I concentrated on keeping my legs in plane with the horse's body instead doing my usual frog legs, my butt couldn't go tense and I gave the horse something to carry. If I didn't rotate my legs down and inward to keep them in plane (ie, pointed my kneecaps outwards to either side instead of towards the ground), she had nothing to carry and it was hard to follow and stay balanced.

    Winging out causes my butt to tense (or perhaps is due to tense butt muscles), legs rotated down and in (activates the psoas, I'm assuming) doesn't allow nearly the tenseness and widens the surface area of my seat.



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