Working on My Core Muscles

I did get a lesson this week on Wednesday with Debbie. I told her of my physical exhaustion from exercising too much on my Home Horse and that I would just be walking for my lesson.

MJ started off STIFF. Debbie told me that his leaser and her daughter rode him on Tuesday and I think he felt it in most of his muscles. So I got up into two-point for a minute or two, until his back felt a little bit more supple, with the result that Debbie asked me how much I was doing 2-point on the Home Horse (HH). She obviously was not pleased with my 2-point asked me what muscles were hurting, and told me not to do it on the HH for a while. My suspicious is that I was bending at my hip joints too much and that my torso was too inclined toward the front, a strategy I picked up on the Home Horse in order to find some stability, any stability, at the 2-point on the HH.

At least she complimented my heels, saying they looked more relaxed than they had been lately. I presume that I actually got my heels down so I did get some riding positives from my exhaustion from riding the HH.

This reinforced my decision just to sit in my Anywhere Saddle Chair (ASC) this week. I think that my back muscles, especially the back muscles in the small of my back, need to get stronger, along with the rest of my core muscles.

The rest of my lesson consisted of me trying to get MJ to move out at the walk. He really did not feel up to it so I spent my time trying to relax his spinal column by sitting as lightly as I could on his back, doing wide curves around the jumps, a few decent halts, and occasionally asking him to extend his walking stride. Again he did better when my contact was just with the curb bit. He did improve some but my lesson was definitely not the best performance I ever got out of MJ.

That afternoon and evening I sat on my ASC for a minute, mostly just sitting erect. I figured that just sitting on it would not tire my muscles too much. This worked as I did not get so tired as to need to take a nap. I was still having to sleep ½ to an hour more at night.

Then I improved. When Shannon came out last Sunday so I could introduce her to my HH and my ASC I did maybe 2 minutes on the ASC. Shannon liked the HH but told me that she just did not have room in her small house for one. She LOVED the ASC, she sat on it and would not get off of it for a while. She told me she got fidgety when she sat down in a chair, and that the movement of the ASC under her seat was enough fidgeting so she could enjoy sitting down. Since the ASC is not a stand-alone piece of gear we can put it away when it is not in use, I use a folding metal chair which is simple to put away and I can put the ASC in the bag that came with it and hang it up in the closet or on a hook. Yes, the ASC will fit into her small house. She has not been able to do much exercise for the last six months since her botched gall bladder surgery and she told me that she really needed to strengthen her core muscles. It seems like the ASC is exactly what she needs for physical therapy to strengthen those necessary riding muscles slowly.

Since last Sunday, except for my lesson day, I have sat on my ASC for 2 minuted 4 times a day. I am not getting anywhere near as tired, I have not needed naps and I am back to my normal 8 hours of sleep. The belt of muscles from my waist, up 4 inches and down 4 inches, all around my waist have toned up a good bit. I am finding it easier to be erect when I sit in a chair which is a big change from my usual slouching. The muscles in the small of my back also feel stronger.

The first time I used my ASC this morning I lost track of time. I was concentrating on sitting erect, face vertical, shoulder blades down, and transferring the weight in my toes to keeping my weight in my heels. I have to use the Rectus femoris muscle on the front of my thighs to do this. I also practiced seeing how the ASC moved under me when I looked right and left a little bit, nothing exaggerated. When I look down the ASC tilts forward under my seat, further proof that looking down can transfer my weight onto the horse's forehand. I also just sat on the ASC, feeling the tiny movements in my core muscles as I tried to just sit up, erect. When I finally looked at my watch I had been on the ASC for 4 minutes. The other 3 sessions I will try to keep at 2 minutes since I don't want to get too tired.

I have never gotten so much an increase in muscle tone from just a few minutes of sitting “still”. My whole core feels stronger, especially my belly muscles and the muscles in the small of my back. The only time I have ever gotten such results in my core muscles I was doing 100 sit-ups a day back decades ago when I took some modern dance classes and I was working out at home to develop the necessary muscles. I am spending a whole lot less energy just sitting on the ASC for a few minutes than I used doing 100 sit-ups a day!

If you want to strengthen your core muscles I recommend getting the Anywhere Saddle Chair. It does not take much room, you just have to sit down and maybe move a little bit, the seat has a comfortable cushion on it, and the results are amazing considering how little time and effort I had to put in to get results. Plus it is not horribly expensive, under $200.00 US including delivery, delivery might cost more if it has to be sent further (I live in the next state.)

And maybe someday this will definitely show when I ride a horse. I am definitely more aware of how the movements of my seat in the saddle can affect the horse I ride.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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