Updated: Oct 11, 2020
"Count it all joy...when you meet different trials, the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" James 1:2 Sometimes the things that test us most in life (awkward colts, awkward poses, awkward seasons) shape us the best.
1. From barrel horse, lift hips
2. Press ground away from shoulders
3. Sink into hands and lock elbows
4. Shallow effort on connection
1. Lock arms and scrunch neck
2. Bend knees and forget toes
3. Stiffen lower back
4. Look out, pinch neck
This is the pose we will lift and stretch into, from the barrel horse pose. Using our arms to push the ground away from our shoulders we gain strength. Using our hips to lift away from our feet, then push into the ground simultaneously . We can support the stretch with bent knees if need be, but only if the upper body is right. Our chest should still be trying to achieve a Squash Blossom type of principles of being long, stretched and lifted. We do not want to collapse the upper body and lock the arms. The legs and arms work together in allowing the back to stretch straight and long. Being able to have an awareness of where our body is while being upside down is key in becoming more coordinated. Learning how to breathe while still holding the appropriate quality (for your level) of the position, builds an incredible amount of focus, and endurance from a mental stand point.
Ride and Apply:
Flexibility is essential when we ride. We all hope we won't have to lift a leg sky-high over a barrel when we cut it too close, but we might! And even if we don't regularly lift up to avoid a near miss, we do need to avoid cramping up. Since the insides and back of our legs are always working, we need to do our best to utilize extending the muscles we are consistently contracting. Allowing the muscle fibers to lengthen and unwind momentarily helps keep our movements and cues we give with our legs more fluid. This is also a good test to see where our mind goes when we have to simultaneously balance, stretch, and hold a position. If our brain immediately goes into a 'tense/tight/protective' mode that forgets to breathe, then we are at risk of strain and distraction. But if we are able to breath through tense places without breaking focus then we can have more leadership with our horse.
Colts tend to be a tad higher in the hip than the wither, as they are growing. Our goal isn't imbalance, but the intention of pushing the hips higher in the air so that the back of our legs can stretch. If you have a mirror or phone to check your posture, it might be helpful. Sometimes our legs feel straight when actually they are not. Our knees might be bent slightly, or our quads might be clenching. If this is the case, don't force a stretch. Try to hold it and breathe, and if it still hurts consider trying to roll out the muscles with a ball. You don't need to do anything perfect at first, but always regard the base frame you are working from valuable.