Today we had to resort to more unconventional methods:
Stella keeps slipping her lower leg back. She struggles to keep it forward, especially when she is a bit unsure. A little stress, something new, or even simple up, or down transitions; that leg just won’t stay in place. As a result her foot won’t stay in the stirrup and she loses them all the time. She will lean on her knees and her upper body comes too far forward. This way Stella struggles to keep balance, and often feels and looks wobbly and unsafe.
We tried to find out why this is happening and found that Stella finds it really hard to use her ankles as a support. She feels uncomfortable and her ankles and lower legs hurt.
So I took her shoes off. We worked on placing her foot correctly into the stirrups. And voila! As soon as she put her foot in the stirrup as she should; straight and under the ball off the foot, her ankles could do its job and stopped hurting. Her leg was where it should be and stayed there 🙂
Let’s start with an experiment. [if you do it please leave a comment sharing how it felt:) ]
Exercise: It will only take you 2 minutes. You can sit on the floor or on your bed. Sit on your heels, upper body straight. Take your arms to your sides and move up so your are kneeling. Repeat 3-4 times. Do it side by side with a mirror if you can or rest your phone somewhere so you can film yourself doing this. Then, read on and see video at the bottom of this post 🙂 And share your views!
Let’s have a think now…
In basketball, there is a clear difference between bouncing the ball up and down against the floor, and throwing it up and forward on a nice arch so it goes through the net. Different body position and use of limbs, back, shoulders, fingers must be assumed for either.
In equestrian, in rising [or posting] trot, there is a similar difference between an up and down rise when we use the bounce of the horse plus push from the stirrups or forward and up rise & sit when hips of the rider travel on an arch and we lift our body without changing neutral spine posture. Different use of back, abdominal muscles, hips, feet and..thighs.
So, which way is the right way, and why?
You might think, hey I’ve been doing rising trot for so long I don’t even remember when and how I learnt it but if you have issues with your horse’s forwardness, impulsion, straightness, back roundedness, connection back to front, consistency of contact to name just a few, stay for a little longer, it would be great to hear your views!
Over the last 20 years I taught over 14.000 complete beginners or novice riders to ride (I am actually slightly overwhelmed by this number as I decided to under calculate it as not to exaggerate!) and sadly, half of those I would have taught by an up-and-down mantra. In 1997 I came across Centred Riding and changed my ways slowly until I was able to eliminate the need for up-and-down instruction from my teaching vocabulary.
Rising by using your back, upper body motion and/or by pushing up from stirrups (standing up on them) has a huge effect on rider’s ability to stabilise own body, achieve independent hand, encourage free, forward movement in the horse, use their lower legs independently of upper legs, ask for greater collection later in training and the list goes on.