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Back to Basics

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Let truth be your backbone, and grace be embodied.

How to:

1. From Side-lays, gently roll to back

2. Spread shoulders, and back to floor

3. Activate core to support lower back

4. Push into ground with hands

Don't do:

1. Clench neck and head to chest

2. Pop lower back up

3. Tighten hip flexors

4. Tight shallow breath

This is one of the most important and versatile exercises. When we take the time to establish a healthy core, and build strength on top of the healthy posture, our riding will immediately benefit. The core, or abdominals, is more than just having a strong tummy. When we activate and use our core it supports our whole spine, pelvis, gait and posture. A weak core can cause us to otherwise compromise quality of movement if we lack the support to stand strong. The task of pressing our hands and lower back into the ground, instead of letting them lose contact with it, helps keep our core engaged. When we add leg lifts or arm movements to this pose, we also challenge ourselves in keeping the posture through staying fluid. It is important to avoid clenching and crunching your neck - leave it long and on the ground. So much of our riding causes us to crane our neck forward and pattern bad movement habits in us. We do not want to fortify any posture that causes us to look down, slouch or put pressure on our neck.

Ride and Apply:

When we ride, core activation is so important. The more we can articulate control from the top of our hips to the bottom of our pinky toe, the better and more clear our cues will be. This allows our body to have a heightened awareness of working from the inside out as well. Sometimes when we correct a movement in a horse, or try to set him up in a frame, we can jerk him around with out intentionally meaning to do so. But if we are able to sit stable, balanced and wait as we ask in cue with a little pressure, climbing to a more concentrated pressure, we are giving the horse more opportunity to respond with his dignity still intact. We never want to wrestle a horse into a frame, or aggressively correct a wrong move because it disintegrates his trust in us and makes him confused.

Try it:

If you have a mirror to do this next to, evaluate your core, your posture and hip alignment. Does your lower belly/belt buckle area tend to tilt down to the ground, causing your lower back to sway? This is the case with most of us. Practice pulling the belly button in with your stomach muscles, and feel your pelvis lift up to a more level position. Now check your hips. Are your hips level straight across or does your weight sink more into one side or the other?You never want to force anything that is crooked. Do your best to warm up the back and abs, and make some minor postural adjustments as you feel comfortable. Now trying the same things laying flat on your back. This will give your great feedback through feel on where your spine is and what your hips are doing.

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