Ride With a Natural Seat: You Can Too! by Michele Morseth, MA, GCFP
ABSTRACT: Riders can ride for years without ever really moving in unity with the motion of their horse. However, you can learn new habits and posture so you ride in secure comfort. You are not your habits and at any age you can become fluid in your movement and more effective in your riding. What good riders have is an internal sense of balance on their horse. They get this in much of the same way a baby learns to walk, through experimentation with their environment. While for a baby adapting to the environment and learning to walk is relatively easy, for most riders it is not--a rider needs to overcome natural instincts to tense up on the unstable surface of a horse and learn to adapt to the movement. Most riding instruction is based on mechanical instructions for riding: put your shoulders back, heels down, hands still, look up. Directions are for a posture based on an external, ideal model. Natural riders have learned through an organic learning process; their posture and movement fits their own body proportions. This creates a rider in unity with the horse. Anyone can improve their self-awareness, patterns of movement and posture to ride well.
While some riders have an internal sense of balance on their horse and seem to move in harmony no matter what happens, other riders can ride for years without ever really moving in unity with the motion of their horse. Good riders find the way to follow the horse's movement much in the same way a baby learns to walk, through experimentation with their environment. While for most babies adapting to the environment and learning to walk is relatively easy, for most riders it is not--a rider needs to overcome natural instincts to tense up on the unstable surface of a horse's back and learn to adapt to the horse's movement.
Most riding instruction is based on mechanical instructions for riding. Instructors call out: "put your shoulders back", "heels down", "keep your hands still", "look up" and other invectives that don't really teach the rider to find their natural seat. Directions are also often for a set posture based on an external model of the ideal, not on the rider's physical attributes.
Riding in a natural way, the way that seemingly natural riders have found, is based on an organic learning process. The posture and movement fits each individual's body proportions, natural strength and flexibility, and history. By learning to sense ones own posture and movement patterns and move in a fluid, efficient way, every rider can become an elegant rider who moves in unity with the horse. When a rider relies on external models of ideal riding or tenses up instead of relaxing into the motion, she bounces, holds with her thighs, has stiff hands, and upsets the balance of the horse. The more one tightens the quicker the horse moves, the rider braces more or pulls on the reins and rider and horse get into a defensive cycle. The rider ends up never quite adapting to the horse and the horse has a hard time using his hind end and carrying the rider.
However, you can discover your innate ability to adapt to your horse's motion and move in unity. You can change your tension producing responses to the horse's motion and ride in a relaxed, balanced, harmonious posture. Like a child who naturally stands supported through her skeleton, muscles soft and relaxed until they are needed to pick up an object, to run and jump, or hold her mommy's hand, you can ride in relaxed readiness. When you re-learn to balance through your skeleton your muscles are no longer used to tense up or hold yourself. When efficiently aligned muscles are not used for posture but for movement. Any rider can discover this natural way of moving.
The elements to moving in unity with your horse include:
1. Skeletal Balance: When you can sit on your seat bones and your skeleton rises from your pelvis aligned to support your head easily you will find your arms and legs feel light. Your breath will come easily and your neck will be relaxed.
2. Supple, Well Organized Large Muscles: When the largest muscles of your body, your core, is organized for balance and movement it can support the motion of your body without tension. The muscles of your tummy, low back, and pelvic floor can increase or decrease in tone easily in response to the size of movement of your horse or your needs to influence your horses motion for collected movements.
3. Differentiated Movement of the Hips Joints and Legs: This is a fancy way to say your seat will be independent of your legs. When you tighten your inner thighs or move your legs every time your turn or move your torso you don't have an independent seat. When you can move your torso without it affecting your leg position or tension, and you can use your legs without it tightening your seat, you have true independence.
4. Shoulders that Hang in Balance: When you allow your spine to support your head without neck tension your chest can be free and your shoulders can hang down your back without being held. Your arms and hands can then be free to give light aids and not bump the horses mouth. When your shoulder hang in balance you feel as if you could easily juggle, or hold a fragile egg without breaking it.
5. Breath Independent from Movement: Notice a relaxed happy child breathing, the belly rises and falls, all the ribs move easily. When you are balanced through your spine your ribs and chest are not being used to hold you upright so your breath can be free and easy. Learn to breathe with your diaphragm, drawing your diaphragm down to bring the air to into your lungs and letting it rise as you breathe out. When you breath with your diaphragm and it freely goes up and down you can use your core muscles to stabilize your torso and adapt to the movement of your horse.
6. Awareness of Your Body's Movement, Balance, and Tension: Many riders don't realize they tighten one hip when posting. Or they are not aware that the right shoulder stays forward even when turning to the right, or maybe the left ankle is stiff when it needs to be relaxed to absorb the motion of the horse. Building awareness of your own movement patters and balance is key to riding well.
The thing to remember is you are not your habits and at any age your can become for fluid in your movement and more effective in your riding. Are you ready to become the rider you dream of? You can follow the motion of your horse without tension, easily influencing his movement by giving light aids and getting a quick response. Are you tired of your instructors telling you to sit up, put your heels down, keep your hands still, or worse, that you are not ready for the next level? You can learn to have a following, adhesive seat that will keep your legs and hands quiet. Have you jiggled and bounced more than enough times, not able to sit the trot after years of riding? You can learn to have the core support and spinal alignment and suppleness necessary to sit the trot.
I have developed a unique program to teach riders an organic, individually based, movement and awareness oriented way to improve their riding. With a combination of movement education lessons, strengthening and balancing exercises, and awareness building lessons you too can achieve the ride of your dreams!
Would you like to learn to sense within yourself how to go with the motion of your horse without tension? Learn how by going to SitTheTrot.com or contacting Michele at email@example.com
Michele Morseth, MA
Sit The Trot! Body Awareness and Movement Education for Equestrians and Everybody
Teaching clinics for all levels of equestrians through the nation.
Sisters, OR http://www.SitTheTrot.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michele_Morseth