We have all heard it – riders need good balance. We heard Carl Hester say about him doing hundreds half-halts per ride. And what are half-halts in essence if not a call for balance in the horse? We all heard that we need independent hands, independent seat, independent legs…Independent from what exactly? From the movement of the horse that unbalances us. From our own loses of equilibrium…These thoughts were on my mind as I was trying to come up with ideas that will both explain physically and let the riders feel the “balance” better. It seems that many of us, once sat in the saddle, struggle with refining our balance. We are “fine” in a slightly chair seat or with a asymmetrically held body, one shoulder higher, waist collapsed – comfortably seated on a horse that “catches us” we don’t perceive to be out of balance. Yet, we are as if we removed the horse from underneath us, all the above issues would quickly brought us to the ground.
I have used Pilates balls and various other exercise routines with good results but still wanted something more. And then, a fortnight ago I went cycling with my father…
I am sure I am not the first one to have this discovery but WOW – try cycling with no holding on to the handle bars and you can get the feel for:
1) upper body balance
2) how only small adjustments can cause big differences in trajectory of the bicycle (horse)
3) how it feels to “keep the horse in front of your leg/back” with just enough impulsion for the ground incline
4) how to relax the extremities (legs and hands) while torso remains in positive tension and balance
5) how even rather small slackness through spine or unnecessary tension makes the “no hands” cycling (or balancing) into a big struggle
6) how dominance of one leg (stepping much stronger into one pedal or another) makes you fight for your line and balance
7) how overall tension or “trying too hard” kills the smoothness of the ride
8) how little is needed to stay in balance if we find the right posture
9) how to turn by adjusting weight shifts rather than by active big movements
Now, you might say, the horse is not a bicycle but having compared my “feel” in the saddle for all above I can confidently say that the execution is incredibly similar 🙂 I have always cycled without holding on for years but only that morning I made the connection.
Have you tried to make these comparisons? What do you think?