Last Wednesday, my head suddenly went round to the left and wanted to stay there. Now this usually happens when I walk quickly and, often when I ride, but not in the normal course of things. What this means, of course is ? Particularly, when I think about how I ride, and the fact that I’ve started to be able to look more to the right when trotting.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been re-assessing my whole riding position again. This, for me, is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge – endless work-in-progress. On the one hand, I have any rider’s ‘normal’ postural problems and on the other a whole host of every changing twists, pulls and general muscle mayhem caused by Dystonia. Good thing I like a challenge!
The current state of things looks like this:
Head. Likes to look left, unless going at speed, but I’ve started to notice that I’m getting better at looking directly ahead, and even, to the right.
Shoulders. Disaster. Right side, dropped at least 1-2 inches lower that left. Left side wanting to pull round and forward.
Hips. Left side, can get very stiff. Regular exercises prescribed by physio helps to keep this under control. Right side. Reasonable.
All of this is a bit of a problem when you sit on a horse. And want to actually do something.
First issue is clearly my head. Having something that weighs 4-5kg bobbling around at the top of your spine is going to affect your body’s centre of gravity considerably.
Second, shoulder twisting. Again, another weight distribution problem.
Both of these cause riding nasties such as collapsed circles, which I have to work hard to avoid.
Stiff hips are another problematic area. A flexible hip joint is a key component in a good seat, so any inflexibility here, for me, just creates tensions elsewhere, as the wrong parts of my body try to compensate.
So, how best to tackle this war zone?
Step 1. Be brutally honest about what’s wrong.
Step 2. In my case, exercise. Luckily, the exercises given to me by the neuro-physio are great for building core muscle strength for riding (Hurrah!). I have a permanent programme running for my hips, but plan to add to this.
Step 3. Ride without stirrups. I do this a lot and find it liberating and more comfy, but currently, I find it hard to retain this feel when I take the stirrups back. This says to me that I need to work more on getting my stirrup leathers down even further.
Have a good week.
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