Crookedness and a bit more…

Do you ever think about your horse as your mirror?

Agi Falenta (@equitness)

I bet you never do. And I don’t mean the appearance of course or the hairstyle (ok that is questionable) but the behaviour. Do you ever have the feeling that your horse responds in a different way, depending on your mood, fatigue or fitness level? Well, in the same way if you are stronger on one side, if your weight is laid unevenly on the saddle or if you are unbalanced or stiff, then for sure your horse will reflect this. One of the most common problems which can happen to both rider and horse is crookedness.

Are you all the time aware of your position in the saddle?

Remember one thing, a crooked rider will never straighten a crooked horse. So… are you one of those lucky riders who have a crooked horse? Yes, lucky because it means MORE FUN to make things right. I believe that the essence of riding is not only about boring stable routine, beautiful sunset beach hacks, ideal piaffe or perfectly jumped parcour. It is all about making things right, right? It is all about helping your best friend to cross that noisy road or bridge, to not afraid of that scary bin lorry and finally to teach him how to respond to your aids in the best possible way.

But the question is – how to fix crookedness?

As I said earlier, a crooked rider will never straighten a crooked horse so it all should start from the rider. Are you crooked? Sounds awful n’est-ce pa? Of course you are not. Well, are you sure? Are you sitting straight all the time? Or are you are starting to lean on to one side “just to cheat” (O please. Certainly that horse won’t notice such a tiny weight shift). Be sure he will. Of course hoofyclappyhappychappy won’t give a s…t but every sensitive and focused horse will think - Ok, something has changed, what we are up to now? And what are we really up to??  Nothing!  We are just not prepared for riding… so get your bum off the saddle and MAKE THINGS RIGHT.

Simply prepare yourself

Do you know that successful people always follow some kind of routine? It doesn’t matter if this is a simple morning routine like making your bed, daily or weekly business routine, any kind of routine in your life will make things much easier. And let’s make it straight - drinking wine every night is not qualified as a routine ok? So why not to make a small simple routine to be successful in riding? Someone very successful – Ok it was Walt Disney - said

“Whatever you do, do it best”
Otherwise there is no point of doing this. So make Things Right.

Warm Up

Please, please and I really mean please find some time before riding to warm up, to do some exercises. Is it important? Ask yourself, if you are in the gym, are you darting straight to the heavy weights risking an injury or you making sure that all your joints, tendons and muscles are properly warmed up and ready for the task? Warming up is also the best way to clear out your mind. Leave all the problems behind. And that guy in a white van who cut in at the junction definitely won’t spoil your day.
Is exercising a part of the routine? I know what you think now – warm up, prepare, exercise - easy to say when I have 2, 3, 5 horses to train every day and I really do not have time for such a waste of time as exercise. Or, I have just finished  work and before I pick up the kids or do a quick shop,  I need to “move” my horse. Let’s compare then. According to Ofcom the average TV viewer in the UK is watching more than 18 hours of adverts a week. That means nearly 3 hours a day… So what is the real time waster?  5 - 10 minutes of exercise a day or 3 hours of constant brain washing?
Warm up, mobilize your joints, tendons and muscles, it will always help you to get the best results. (If you want to check out some of the great warm up exercises, please go to my Fb or Instagram page)

Do the stuff

In other words - apply all main Pilates principles – Concentration, Precision, Control, Flow and Breath…

Posture check – alignment of the body, neutral spine, shoulder blade sliding back, TVA (Transversus Abdomini muscles – google know it all :) engaged, pelvic floor muscles engaged. Make sure you are sitting central, lengthen your legs, even weight in the stirrups and make sure you are breathing deeply from your ribcage. Done. Brilliant. Just how long you can maintain this position correctly? Are the core muscles not strong enough to prevent you from going crooked?

It. Is. All. About. The. Core.

The strength of your core (or muscles that hold it in the correct position) will determine how good your posture is. Not only on the horse, but in all daily activities.  Are you a bit bored of reading this? Well, to be honest I would be too, but on the other hand, bear in mind you still have 3 hours of adverts to see today? Or if you, like me, prefer to treat your TV as a piece of bulky ornament on the wall rather then something to stare at the whole day, please have a quick look at my videos for some warming up, mobility and strengthening ideas. You will find there a few exercises that will help you simply tick all points in the “Do the stuff” section above. If you have elastic/resistant bands, please use them. They are very handy, however most people keep them under the bed, probably among all the other useful but forgotten fitness equipment bought on the spur of the moment. You need only one more thing – consistency, and a bit of time so why not make it your very first morning routine? Trust me you will start your day in a much better mood. Why? How many times do you blame yourself for not doing anything for your body? Guilty. How many times do you find excuses not to do anything? Guilty. Then, do it first thing in the morning and that’s it done. Not guilty Your Honour. Once you put yourself in a good mood you will want to do more. Very quick you will find out that your horse also reflects your improvement and react better to your stronger and more balanced seat. Finally I’ll give you one more very useful tip, completely free of charge – ready? Some of my routines you can do without leaving your bed. Don’t wait, join me.

For more please check or follow me on Instagram @equitness or Facebook - Tons of videos with exercises, routines, weekly challenges and more.

Happy Riding
Agi Falenta