August 30, 2011
Before you saddle up, use these stretching tips to increase your seat and balance.
Tips from Cyril Pittion-Rossillon
A loosening-up period on the ground enables riders to be stretched and mentally prepared before getting on the horse, eliminating the adjustment time a rider usually has when he or she first mounts.
Relaxation exercises are a great way to prepare for any type of riding, and can be very useful when going into the show pen.
- Stand in a relaxed position with shoulders slumped, arms limp and eyes closed. Inhale through your nose while straightening your back and lifting your shoulders and hold your breath for two seconds. As you begin to exhale, gradually relax head, neck and shoulders and round your back. Maintain relaxed position for two seconds before taking another breath.
Hunter under saddle is a popular class at AQHA shows and one that requires a lot of preparation and a firm understanding of what judges base their decisions on. The “Selecting and Showing Hunter Under Saddle Horses” DVD provides a wealth of information about what makes a good hunter under saddle horse.
Upper Body Exercises
Ground exercises loosen the neck and back, which stiffen quickly when a rider is nervous or uncomfortable.
- Stand with feet slightly apart with arms relaxed by your sides. Slowly move your head and neck to look up, hold for two seconds, and then look down for a two-second stretch. Do similar stretches looking right and then left. Finally, rotate your head in a circular motion in each direction.
- Stand with feet slightly apart. With arms extended down, clasp hands in front of you. Slowly raise arms stretching them above your head.
- Stand with feet slightly apart and both arms extended at shoulder level, parallel to the ground. Slowly twist trunk at the waist from one side to the other, following the movement with your arms and head.
- Stand with feet slightly apart and hands on hips. Slowly bend at the waist to the right and then the left, stopping to rest in the center. Finally bend forward slightly, keeping the back and knees straight.
- Stand with feet slightly apart with hands clasped in front of you. Bend forward at the waist, keep your back straight and reach down with your hands and look forward.
The seat is an important aid for balance and communication with the horse, therefore riders should get a feel for how the hips move in a riding position.
- Stand with feet slightly apart and flat on the ground with weight evenly distributed. Knees are slightly bent and your hands on hips. Look forward. Rotate your hips in small circles in both directions.
- Stand with feet slightly apart, knees slightly bent and your hands on hips with thumbs extending to rest on your lower back. Look forward. Rotate hips forward and backward without moving your upper body or legs. These are the movements your hips make when you ride.
The “Selecting and Showing Hunter Under Saddle Horses” DVD will allow you to learn from the best, AQHA Professional Horsewomen Carla Wennberg and Leslie Lange.
Riding with a “deep seat” allows both English and western riders to be as close to the horse as possible. A deep seat is a must to obtain balance and be a more effective communicator with the horse. The rider must have flexible hips to obtain a deep seat.
- Hold a support rail (fence) for balance and slowly swing each leg forward and backward. Look forward and keep the upper body still.
- Hold a support rail (fence) for balance, bring one knee up to a waist level in front of you and hold it with your hand. The support foot is flat on the ground. Slowly open the knee out to the side while looking forward and keeping upper body still. Repeat with other knee.
- Hold a support rail (fence) for balance and rest your other hand on you hip. Lift leg straight out from the waist to the side. Look forward and keep upper body straight. Repeat with other leg.
Some riders may need to gradually build up to completing all the exercises. Number of repetitions is determined by the rider. Never force a stretch or exercise if it is uncomfortable or painful.
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