Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dressage Epiphany!

What an amazing ride today!!!

It was one of those rides where I can't believe that I've been this confused for this long, but at least I've gotten it figured out now. Sigh. But I'm so glad I did. Dan felt amazing today!!!

So... before we even got started I sort of had an epiphany on my own but during my ride, Cindy confirmed and solidified my thoughts. In an effort to "open my hips" I was trying to OPEN my hips but rolling my knees out. In my brain, this was opening my hip joints. However, what I was doing was then popping my knees and toes out, digging in with my heel and not my entire leg and digging my butt bones into Dans' back. (And Fleck's too for that matter). I was talking to a massage therapist in passing and he mentioned that I do stretches where I rotate my hips in the socket by internally rotating my thighs and then externally rotating. While doing this I felt that by turning my thighs in, it helped bring my toes in too and moved my leg in a way that would probably create better contact with a horse rather than just using my toe. So... I've been working on it off the horses and thought it would be worth trying on the horse. 

Well, as soon as I got on Cindy had a new "gadget" for me to try. She handed me two fist sized rubber balls and we put them under my seat bones. It was awkward at first because you were sitting way up above your horse. But it was amazing what those darn balls did. They sort of forced my pelvis to shift in a way that made it even easier to "rotate my thighs inward" which actually does open up my pelvis and hips. It just does it in a different direction, which makes more sense with how it needs to be when riding. Then because the balls sort of tip you forward, you have to really lift your pelvis floor and use your core to avoid tipping forward and having the balls squirt out behind you. It was awkward at first, but then.... ooooohhhh... that's the magic seat! 

So... what *I* need to do to get a proper dressage seat is to think about rolling my thighs in, opening my hips out in a down and back direction, lifting my pubic floor and then ultimately softening my hip bones/seat. 

And when I did... WOW! Danny felt amazing. We got some of the nicest trot and canters it seems. That canter... he was straight and let go with his neck so he just hung and floated. It felt beautiful! 

So after we played around with the balls a bit at the walk, we did some work without them and focused on the trot. I need to remember to keep contact on that outside rein, especially tracking left. I need to keep trying to get back to that seat... 

Then we put the "Balls" back in for my canter work and while it was tough, it was helpful. I still have a much easier time with the left lead canter as far as my position and keeping Dan round on the outside rein. But we managed to get a fairly decent canter both ways. Then Cindy took my "balls" away and had me canter again. Tougher without the balls, but I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it. Phew!!

But yep... overall a very amazing ride. So educational for me, but Danny felt like a million bucks too! He was lifting his back and moving quite well, especially in his slightly too narrow saddle. :) Such a good kid! I cant wait til our next show.

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