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Connected Riding April 10

Connected Riding April 10

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Published by: AB on Sep 14, 2010
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Are you looking to improve your balance, ease and lightness in the saddle, making the ride smoother forboth you and your horse? Follow Peggy Cummings each month as she provides insights and commentaryinto the balance and movement of trail riders and their mounts. We invite you to submit photos for con-sideration for use in the column, which will appear in both Trail Blazer magazine and TrailtownUSA.com.Please send your photos to Editor@trailblazermagazine.us
 with your trail horse
part three by
PEGGY CUMMINGS
 
.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US •
April 2010
25
 
rider needs to be able to discern what is cor-rect inormation—and what is not—in order to synchronize with their horse in movement.This is your choice and possibility. In other  words, just because your best riend does itdoesn’t mean it is correct. Just because a cli-nician tells you to do it doesn’t mean it is theright way. Just because a saddle-maker sellsyou a saddle and tells you it ts doesn’t meanit will. What is the answer? Educate yoursel and learn the biomechanical principles o movement or yoursel and your horse.This month as you study these pictures I would like you to consider more than ever the horse’s point o view. How do you eelon his back? Does your way o using your body give your horse a choice, or does hejust have to put up with you as you go downthe trail?
Rider One 
The rider is pretty synchronized with hishorse. I looked at many pictures o male rid-ers and this was the best o the ones I lookedat. The rider is carrying his upper body welland there is a nice bend in his elbows, whichhelps maintain integrity in his upper bodyand support his horse well even though onerein is looser than the other at this particular moment.The only adjustment I would make is toremind him to have just a bit more bendthrough his knee that would allow his leg toThe only thing I cannot do while you readmy articles is give you a kinesthetic sense o  what I am talking about. For this, you haveto take the initiative to nd the contrast inyoursel by monitoring some o the repetitivethings you do unconsciously (tighten your back, squeeze with your hands, push your heels down, grip with your knees, etc.) thatget in your way and the horse’s way o maxi-mizing your partnership potential. You have to know what you do that getsin the way o reedom o movement andresults in bracing, and when you notice this,consciously change it—i you stien your back, soten it; i you squeeze with your hands, soten them; i you grip with your knees and push your heels down, think widein your knees and level your eet and moveyour bones (as described below) over andover again. Why? Because we are creatures o habitand i you choose to change a habit you needto pay attention until the new habit eels soamiliar that it overrides the tendency todo the old habit most o the time. This isalways a process. Changing habits requiresocus and determination. Many times you aredriven to seek a change because your horseis not perorming the way you think or knowhe could be.My intention is that through these articlesyou will be enticed to look at pictures o yourselves riding in order to prevent sound-ness or behavior problems in your horse or physical problems, discomort and rustra-tion in you.Herein lies a word o CAUTION: Every
continued next page
.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US •
April 2010
25
Question Of The Month:
 
I I asked your horse wha youel like on his back as he carriesyou, wha would he ell me?My passion is o help ridersbecome beter parners wihheir horses by synchronizingwih hem in movemen. Tismeans ha hrough hese ariclesyou will “develop your eye,” byseeing conrass beween ridersand horses. You will begin o un-dersand he basic biomechanicalprinciples in enough dierenways so ha somehing srikesa chord o urher your under-sanding o how your posure haso be on a horse in order o beefcien and allow his movemeno be he same. You will learnsimple exercises o spark yourineres so you can experimenwih hem on your horse.
RIDER ONE
photo by bobbie jo lieberman - www.bobbiejo.smugmug.com
 
26
 
April 2010
 .TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US
be more under him. Actually just think-ing “wider through his knee” as he postsup would be really helpul and wouldprobably change the look o his leg im-mediately. I am not sure in this case i his leg is just a tad ahead because hishorse is airly narrow or that his saddledoes not allow his body to hang in align-ment which is a very common issue inmany saddles, and riders have no wayo knowing the dierence.There is a lightness and sotness inthe appearance o the horse. The horseis telescoping (extending) his neck, re-leasing his topline and “coming through”his back. He is round rom behind thesaddle to the top o his tail. His base, thearea between his ront legs, is up, andall these actors allow him to shit weightdynamically with each stride. This horse would be telling me this rider allows himto nd ease going down the trail.
Rider Two 
This horse and rider appear to begoing in what many might consider anice-looking outline or a more collectedrame. This is truly an illusion and onethat many seek to emulate. The rider issitting in a chair seat and I do believe inthis instance that the saddle he is ridingis not helping him nd his balance over his eet. The rider’s leg is in ront o thegirth. Even though his upper body looksto be stable and his elbows are bent andthere is a nice line o contact rom elbowto bit, he cannot come close to synchro-nizing with his horse, as he will always bebehind the horse’s movement.The horse is clearly refecting thisimbalance, as he cannot telescope hisneck. He is bent at C-2, the neck verte-bra just behind the poll, and the posi-tion o his head is restricting his abilityto intake air reely. The horse is wearinga martingale, quite typical o this alserame—horses such as this at times go“head high”, especially when excitedor during transitions. This is why manyriders use martingales.The issue is not that the horse tendsto carry his head high but that his back isnot able to work eciently, so the horseraises his head when the core issue isthat he is really out o balance. Since thehorse is wearing a martingale this pre-
  p e g  g  y   ’ s  c r  i  t  i q  u e
RIDER TWO
I
t is critical, in order to improve theshock-absorbing ability o your jointsover the uneven ground on a trail, thatyour hips, knees, ankles and arches arein vertical alignment and have the abil-ity to absorb the movement. For this itis essential or your seat to be over your eet (except in the case o a jockey wherethe stirrups are so short that the anglesormed by the legs as they are gallopingallow or shock absorption).Experiment with the ollowing exer-cise: Put your right oot against your letas i you were positioning yoursel to pulla boot o with your heel. While keepingyour entire oot on the ground engageyour thigh muscles and fex your leg asi you were pulling the boot o. Sinceyou are keeping your entire oot on theground the movement is small, but you will notice how your thighs initiate themovement.Once you have gured out this simplemovement, put your heels together withyour toes pointing out, making a “V” shape with your eet. Place your hands on your thighs and press down and alternatelyfex your legs. When your body is in align-ment (it can be slightly orward) and thereis no tension in your back, the movementis incredibly simple and you will noticehow strong and eicient your thighsare. The position will eel as i you areslightly squatting with your knees wide.I your spine, pectoral muscles or shoulders have any tension this exercise will eel very dicult, and the movementin the legs will be orced and the thighs will be lacking power. The exercise isimpossible to do with an arched (hol-lowed) back, a rounded back (pelvis in a“pocket sitter” posture) or a chair-sittingposture.This exercise is intended to give youa sensation o being able to move your bones with ease. This is a rhythm and mo-tion that should be taking place while youare walking and trotting your horse that isequal and alternating. The walk rhythmis obviously slower that the trot rhythm.The canter rhythm diers, as it is a short-long rhythm. The long rhythm is in synch with the horse’s lead. The movement o the bones is not orced. The movemento your bones needs to be at rst allow-ing and in rhythm with the movement o the horse.The major thing to remember is tothink wide through your knees. Your calves will automatically be on the horse’ssides, providing a stabilizing anchor or your upper body. Your eet must be leveland the stirrup not too long, allowing theoot to adjust to the fexion required inthe joints. As you become aware o the ease thiscan create, you can accentuate the rhythmby adding more intention to your legs(a “wobbling” sensation that invites thehorse to pick up the driving energy inhis hind eet) or slow down the rhythm, which will slow the horse down withoutyou having to use your hands.Mastering this exercise eliminatesever having to use both o your legs atthe same time. Remember you are ridinga horse, not a kangaroo or rabbit! I willcontinue this discussion in another issue.It would be also helpul to review lastmonth’s exercise on “Moon Walk”.
Solutions 
photo by bobbie jo lieberman- www.bobbiejo.smugmug.com

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