I cannot believe that we are already midway through October! This fall has been a whirlwind for me; I had the opportunity this month to put my 4-year-old homebred (Still Stanley) in training with Team USA rider and 5* eventer Jan Byyny and the process has already exceeded my high expectations. Jan has really been pushing me to ride my horse better than I knew I could from day one.
This month’s exercise is based on a move she has me do in the saddle, which really activates my core, obliques, and pelvic floor. It started on the lunge line, but what it really helps with is riding into the corners.
The sensation is hard to describe but I will do my best! When you are on a green horse every movement you make in the saddle is exaggerated, because they are still learning how to carry the weight of the rider on their back.
Jan really wanted me to focus on turning my saddle toward the center of the ring each stride. This requires you to pull your belly button into your spine and shift your weight so that your inside hip is further back than your outside hip.
Each stride at the trot while posting your outside hip is leading a little bit in front of your inside hip. In the canter, you are almost doing a microscopic crunch to sit down and around with the inside seat bone. This is something that you can easily practice at the walk though. Every step the horse takes you think that you are trying to turn the saddle toward the center of the ring.
The exercise I do off the horse that comes the closest to helping me feel this sensation in my body is called a Supine Twist.
Here’s how to try it yourself. Doing this consistently as a part of your exercise or warm-up routine will help build that muscle memory and the finite strength needed to execute core movements in the saddle, which in turn will lead to a better ability to ride into and through your corners.
- Lie on your back with your arms out in T position
- First, engage through your core (think about pressing your low back into the ground and bringing your belly button to your spine). Lift your legs and bend your knees so they are at 90°
- Keeping your nose pointed straight up today the ceiling, engage through your core, and as you exhale lower your knees to the left. Inhale bring your knees back up to the center and exhale lower your knees to the right.
- Lower your knees as close to the ground as you can get them, but do not push through any sharp shooting sensations in your back.
- Only work in a comfortable range of motion, whether that is two inches or almost to the ground this is a great exercise either way.
- Focus on being slow, smooth, and controlled in the motion.
- Continue twisting this back and forth for as long as you can, or two minutes, whichever comes first.
Want to get in even better saddle shape? Contact Laura Crump Anderson and Hidden Heights Fitness to get started on a customized program today!