Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Be like a barrel: stay grounded, keep a level head, and carry valuable goods on the inside. -KR
The beloved tin cans we race around have a good perspective to offer us. They are hold an solid and level shape all the way around. And they stay put on the ground with even contact. A simpler way to function in the saddle is if we just concentrate on being evenly seated in our seat bones and stirrups, much like a barrel is just level and evenly touching the ground.
1. From squash blossom root your feet
2. Connect straightness from head/feet
3. Spread toes wider, then lift arches
4. Activate deep breathing again
Don't drop your focus downward
Protect/tense your core or knees
Lock your knees or lose stability
Rock your weight back on heels
You can learn to make this posture your 'muscle memory', where you don't have to think about where to focus or how to balance. In addition to making it 'second nature' you should also rehearse adjusting your body for straightness from head to heels. With each scan in your awareness, breath "into" the tension a full breath, and then let the breath stretch out your body into a straighter frame, with your feet sinking into the ground evenly.
Ride and Apply:
The more we practice and have a stable seat, the more we will be able to unconsciously access that as a baseline without making distracting micro adjustments. When we have an awareness of being in balance and evenly seated from activated core, circulated frame, and upward focus, then the rest of the movement from it will flow healthy and strong. Being unevenly weighted in the stirrups or crooked in our seat combined with looking down out our horse, we throw all of our sloppy energy downward. Our horse has to carry this weight with the feeling of it being heavier and more cumbersome than we actually are, completely on his front end (which we are ironically wrestling him to lift up to go around the barrel). When we are crooked or slouching we automatically are set up to have a rein wrestling match. When we allow our seat to sink low, our feet to feel even contact with the stirrups and our posture to lift up, we lighten his front end immediately. Don't adapt to the barrel racer or cutting train hunch and crunch - you will only hurt your neck and make moving more difficult for your horse.
Next time you ride...snag a side profile pic or ride in a place to see your reflection.. Do you feel like you ever are constantly adjusting the saddle? Maybe this is just due to being crooked and looking down. See if riding with an adjusted posture of being heavier in your seat and lighter everywhere else effects you. What is your horse's feedback on your adjustment?
Neutral and balanced or....
Crunched, hunched and leaning?