[Training Tuesday] Straightness For The Rider

To start this blog post, I need to cite Patricia from The Dressage Tipster (www.likecrystal.com) who speaks about a top to analysis of the rider in chapter 7 of her book: The Crystal System (read more here: http://likecrystal.com/crystal-system-dressage-chapter-7/):

To begin the process of examining your own body and ability to sit correctly, you need to grasp one essential ethos; whether you are training at the very highest level or a beginner in the sport ask yourself ‘is it me or is it my horse?’

I did just that - I asked myself the question: do we have problems with xyz because Hafl does not want to do it, Hafl cannot do it, I don't want to do it or I cannot do it - I never really considered the question whether Hafl cannot do it because I cannot do it!

Right hand shoulder in - always easy, left hand always a mess

Over the last few years, I was sitting a lot - in the car, at the desk in the office, more time in the car. As commuter, sitting for 1.5hrs a day at a minimum left problems with my body. A few weeks ago, I realized when driving that I sat twisted - bent to the right, only one shoulder blade touching the back rest. When I tried to sit straight, it somehow even hurt! Come on, really? What had happened? Over the time, my body got used to a new, twisted position and it seemed that I got used to it, too, as it never felt awkward. I just realized some issues when paying more attention then: shoulder in left seemed to be way more difficult then the one to the right, I always had the feeling that my left shoulder was already turned back to the maximum and still, Hafl never showed a really nice shoulder in - always worse than to the right (the half pass to the left looks 10 times better on the left, also the haunches in). Even simple circles were worse on the left - he fell over his shoulder to the outside not only once, not only in the beginning of our training, no, still these days when I was not paying too much attention.

I made up my mind and followed my trainer's advice to see an osteopath.


a therapeutic system originally based upon the premise thatmanipulation of the muscles and bones to promote structural integritycould restore or preserve health: current osteopathic physicians usethe diagnostic and therapeutic techniques of conventional medicine aswell as manipulative measures. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/osteopathy)

To be honest, I did not believe in it too much, it seemed to me a bit too far from reality. I heard of it for horses and if it was for Hafl, I would have chosen it way earlier (only the best for your horse, right?). But now it was time to do something for myself in order to see an improvement in our training - hopefully.

I went to see the osteopath recommended by my trainer (I learned that is kind of famous for what he is doing in my area). I was nervous - was he going to break some bones? Would it hurt? Would it be good for me? Would we get the results desired?

Whatever he did, it did not hurt. It was not a massage, it was more of touching whatever he calls centers of tension. Most of them are to be found around your core area. He pushes, he holds, he waits. It does not seem that he is doing a lot. Actually, it hardly hurts, you do not have to make handstands or anything similar, you lie on your back most of the time. After an hour that went pretty unexcitedly, we were done. He said I needed to come back in two weeks, that I should not sit down for the next 30mins, rest a bit for the rest of the week, drink more. And then I left.

I met a friend of mine downstairs and we went for a walk. It did not feel like anything had happened until I felt like somebody was pulling my left shoulder back. To be honest, I thought I was dreaming but this feeling simply did not stop, being there for days!

Today, I came back from a little vacation and rode for the first time. Straight has a new meaning to me now - and I know, it will still improve a bit. I tried to capture what was straight before and after the treatment today - though the angle is not 100% the same, I guess you get what I mean (whether Hafl not being straight is due to me being twisted - I cannot tell, maybe it was just a coincidence):

To me, for years it felt straight but indeed it wasn't. It is good that we take care of our horses, let them see the farrier, saddle fitter, dentist and vet pretty often in their lives - but it is also important to take care of yourself and have yourself checked from time to time - it could be that training problems are not due to lack of your horse's strength or willingness or suppleness - maybe you are the problem.

Today, my shoulder ins left went easy - just like on the right hand. There was a huge difference already after the first treatment, one to go next week and then I promise, I will take a little more care about myself - to make our lives easier.

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