Photo: When Steve took to the road on foot, to work on his riding seat like I am suggesting here in this lesson, his riding took an exponential leap forwards. Working without our horse to release and eliminate OUR OWN tensions and stiffness is a significant shortcut to brilliant riding. Yep, this takes us all the way back to the principles at the beginning of Fast Track.
The balance between horse and rider, the softness between the horse and rider at the stop – is absolutely fundamental to the dance itself. You make or break that softness in the stop itself.
This is one of those statements that is worthy of a thesis all by itself PLUS added drum rolls to make sure that you realize its importance.
So if you desire to be a great rider, if you desire to experience the dance with your horse – then here is YOUR contribution to the softness that is necessary for that dance.
Ignore the lesson numbers, we’ve added so much content that they don’t mean anything any more. 🙂 The lessons I refer to in the audio are about walking your way to good riding and about getting the walk of a good rider and also your the soapy bones lesson and releasing whatever is in the way of all those joints being available for movement.
Written Version of the Audio
Here is YOUR contribution to the softness that’s necessary to dance to a stop and accelerate the back up.
Any kind of bracing gets in the road of the dance.
And most of the time that a horse is bracing into a stop, it’s because the rider is bracing into the stop. Yep that’s right… MOST of the time…
You can practice a soft, pelvis flexing stop without even being on your horse. In fact, OFF your horse is a great place to practice this one, specially from the horse’s point of view!
Find your effortlessly powerful posture standing. As you are standing there, get that soapy bones feeling – that feeling that all your joints are available for movement. If you need to, work from the top of your head to your feet, pausing at each joint and imagining that each joint could move in all directions. If you identify any stuck spots then review Lesson 54 (that’s your Fast Track Lesson 13) and get rid of them.
When you see how important it is to have all your joints available for movement and if you are really serious about being a good rider, it might prompt you to notice your soapy bones occasionally as you are walking around and fix any stuck spots.
Now you might want to do this where no one else can see you or you might feel a little ridiculous. You are going to pretend to ride your horse as you are walking along. And you are going to FEEL the dance and eliminate any brace in you that will get in the road of that dance as you SOFTLY dance to a stop.
We might all feel this a little differently, but for me I had to walk forward with smaller steps than usual, with my knees bent more than usual. Make sure that your upper body is upright and balanced over your legs, that your core is effortlessly strong, that your tail bone has slid closer to the ground, making your back softly straight and that your pelvis is flexing deeply as you dance into the stop.
Walk forwards a little, dance to a stop with deep flexing of the pelvis, walk forwards a little, dance to a stop. Ride your horse in your mind and FEEL what needs to let go in your pelvis and your spine to dance to a stop smoothly and easily.
You could even throw in a bit of a play with backing up too and see if you can notice anything in your body as you move all the way from stop into backwards.
When I was doing this, I noticed that my chin was still sticking up in the air a bit and that it was doing that to compensate for the fact that my flexion in my pelvis is not soapy enough – so I will be doing some of this work to get my pelvis flexing sweeter. More walking in effortlessly powerful posture up and down hills will help me get better pelvis flexion too.
Now, that strong core, that effortlessly strong core is an incredibly important part of being a good rider. When I was dancing to a stop, I noticed that I had to have more float forwards over the crease in my jeans as I flexed my pelvis deeper, in order to keep that strong core effortlessly.
Have a play with it, have some fun with it – then go and feel the difference on your horse.