Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Childlike and primal movements of play give us back a baseline of how to move freely and sets us up for success. -KR
The squat is done in exercise a variety of way, but culturally and socially it is a baseline form of function. It assists opening the pelvis, aids in leg flexibility and activates ankle mobility. All movements are either based out of or upon the pelvis - the biggest but most neglected joint. When we pay attention to how our body operates out of its core supporter, we pay attention to the whole body. Fondly named the SMB squat for the daily challenging of booting/wrapping up a horse's legs.
How to do:
1. From barrel, take a slightly wider stance
2. Lift slightly before sinking into gravity
3. Let the back stay straight
4. Stabilize yourself with your elbows
Drop to the ground without control
Hunch to protect yourself
Narrow the shoulder or knees
Unevenly weight the feet or hips
You can learn to let this posture feel more normal and natural the more often you practice it. This position has immediate and prolonged benefits. It helps stretch, stabilize and circulate muscles deep in your legs and pelvis that we use as riders ALL the time, but never ever think about. And it will also help build flexibility which will help us in the saddle. This squat also gives us the opportunity to apply our circulating breath, because we need to focus breathing into the stretch without straining anything. Since this posture starts to be more 'active' than the other few we've learned, it challenges us to apply multiple principles at once.
Ride and Apply:
This posture doesn't directly correlate to doing it in the saddle or on the horse. However the more we practice it, it will help with our mobility and flexibly in the saddle and on the horse. It offers an incredible stretch before and after we ride, and also keeps our postural focus in check. The squat could help you feel more secure and strong when dealing with all manner of things around the horse's lower legs and feet. Wrapping legs and picking hooves are when we most frequently represent the 'don't' postures; head and neck tweaked down without any core support or leg strength. While it doesn't technically matter what position you pick your horses feet in, we always need to be taking opportunities to build up our athletic potential. This means not creating poor muscle memory habits or motives that will undermine what we are trying to fine tune in the saddle.
Before you are about to ride (in combination with regular practicing your Winning WarmUPS Workout) try this stretch. See if it allows your legs to swing more freely to adjust your horse's position. See if it allows your lower back to loosen up and your upper back to open up. You might be surprised how solely a "leg stretch" might actually translate to being a better rider.
As always, feel free to record your findings and shoot them over to me!