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Down the Alley

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Flexibility is a key component to stability, and with both - one can be resilient.

How to do:

1. From folded foal release legs forward.

2. Evenly seat bottom on ground

3. Make even contact through whole leg

4.Sit up in Squash and hinge forward from hips with a straight back

Don't do:

  1. Clench hip flexors and shoulders

  2. Get in 'position' but lack the stretch

  3. Shallow or tight breathing

  4. Forget to support back with core

When we make an effort to circulate what can remain stagnant, we prepare the body to be more resilient. This back of the leg stretch is one of the most applicable poses for riders. We are constantly activating the back of our legs when we ride, either to stop our horse, move him over or ask for an isolation. Our bodies love when we give some dynamic movement in muscle moving patterns. If we are so used to contracting the muscles in the backs of our legs then it's a good idea to "even out" the gesture by extending the muscles too. It is really common to try to tense and protect yourself where you don't feel flexible; try to avoid this. Breathing into the tension a few seconds at a time, with frequent breaks and reattempts will help you achieve a functional position to actually hold the stretch in. You can scan your body and see if there is an area that feels tighter than the other, and focus more time and breathing into the stretching of that area. Remember, the key is to find a place where it feels relatively comfortable to be in the stretch, because that means the muscles are releasing.

Ride and Apply:

This posture correlates in a couple ways for riding. The first is flexibility, after our hips open up, the rest of the leg wants to follow in being free and release. Just getting a foot in the stirrup can be easier after these two things are practiced. We do so many repetitive leg movements, micro movements and adjustments in the saddle. Over time we can really get locked into a certain muscle memory, which is too hard to stretch out of. Since we ride with our legs constantly in a bent-knee position, we might consider counter-acting that.

Try it:

If you and your horse are of the ability, consider occasionally riding bareback. This will let your legs relax downward instead of carrying a constant brace in your ankle though your knee to keep it in the stirrup. Because there isn't a stirrup to support your leg in, you might enjoy the added swing and mobility the legs can get when they hang beyond the confines of a fender. You can also find different opportunities to make a POINT to stretch the back of your legs. If you are filling buckets, try a straight leg stretch either standing or sitting. If you are filling water troughs, find something to stretch your calves out on while you wait. If you are flexible enough, put your foot up on a panel for a few breaths. All these opportunities don't have to take a big investment of time (just consistency) to have a big pay off.


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