Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Education Opportunity

Last night my good friend Kathy left me a cryptic voicemail about an "education opportunity." As a LBI and total learn-aholic, I was chomping at the bit to return her phone call this morning.

As it turns out, Colleen Kelly will be teaching a rider biomechanics clinic not too far from here. I've heard lots of good things about Colleen and Kathy has worked with me, incorporating things she's learned.

One of my current passions in my commitment to never-ending self-improvement is finding ways to improve my riding. Both on and off my horse.

I'm not terribly impressed with the things Linda is teaching in her approach to posture in freestyle vs. finesse riding. I don't profess to be an expert but there are things she's saying that just don't make sense to me. So I'm finding other avenues to help me better understand proper dynamics in the saddle.

The conclusion I've arrived at is there isn't much you can do to improve a classical seat. In shifting my balance to equally weight both seat bones and pubic bone, I've never felt more secure on my horse. Cricket is moving better and I seem better able to move with her. It's easier to rise to her trot and I just feel more in harmony with her than trailing behind her. Something I think is far too easy to do when you are on your "balance point."

Much of the input for my conclusions about riding have come from my experience with Pilates. For over two years I've been taking Pilates instruction from my good friend and fellow Parelli student, Tina Hicks. What I love most about how Tina is teaching me to use my body is that it flows with how I'm teaching Cricket to be my partner.

My focus with Cricket is to communicate to her what I want and then get out of her way so she can do it, naturally and unhindered by my interference. It's not so different with our own bodies. The design of the human body is elegant and strong. Each muscle group has it's purpose and function. The brain, too often, interferes with this and causes muscles to slack off or do too much. That's when aches, pains and spasms set in. That's when back problems or knee problems develop.

So when Linda says "wrap your glutes to lift your core," I say, "no thank you." How about I learn to lift my core and allow my spinal support muscles and pelvic floor and transverses and all the correct muscles fire just when they need to in order to provide the lift and the support? Because if I want to do in my body what I want my horse to do in hers, traveling around with tight glutes isn't it.

So anyway, back to my education opportunity . . . I am excited to see Colleen and learn more about the biomechanics of the rider and how that affects the horse. I think this will be a very interesting piece of my continued improvement as an effective rider


Naturally Gaited said...

Thanks for your insights, Lisa. Please keep sharing. :-)

Lisa said...

I've actually discussed a lot of this with my Pilates instructor and she, too, disagrees with the way Linda is teaching freestyle and finesse posture.

As far as I'm concerned, good riding dynamics apply whether you are freestyle of on contact. I want my posture to be balanced and connected. I shouldn't be loosey-goosey cruising around and then suddenly tight and hovering while riding on contact.

I think too many people have exagerated the balance point thing and they now ride behind the horse's motion. This causes the horse to have to pull with the forehand to haul the rider around and there's no way to develop the back and HQ.

I know that I feel better on my horse than I have in YEARS and so much is because I've changed my posture in the saddle.