Wednesday, April 11, 2012

... With One Hand Behind My Back

Last night after being "coaxed" (trust me, no arm twisting required) into a glass of red wine before my ride (have I mentioned how much fun I'm having at the new place?) I figured it might be a good night to do a "long and low" ride.... 

Tucker of course was happy to oblige and immediately took the reins from my hands and stetched his nose to the floor.  Such a good pony.  I was holding the reins in one hand, well in one finger actually, and figured I might as well work a little on my position while we poked around.  So I put my inside hand behind my back, to make myself more aware of my slouching.  You'll never believe this... but when I actually sit up where I'm supposed to, my horse stretches down even more.  Suddenly Jeff Cook's words were echoing in my head: good position isn't just important for its own sake, it's safer, it makes your aids more effective, and it makes your horse go better.  (I stand by what I've said, the man is a genius.)

After about 15 minutes of trotting around with one hand behind my back, noticing all the moments when I want to tip forward (mostly when I turn, for some reason -- circles, changes of direction, etc.) and working on stretching taller and deeper into my heels, I walked and got ready to canter.  Usually on long and low days I get up in my half seat or even a two-point to canter and let Tucker stretch beneath me, but I was sitting up so nicely at this point (for once) that I decided to try sitting down, making my legs long, and stretching up tall. 

Channeling my inner cowgirl, I kept my reins long and let Tucker keep stretching his nose down to the ground, and picked up my canter, sitting deep in the saddle and pulling my shoulders back.  Wouldn't you know, it was lovely.  He stretched down, his back got round, and he tracked up from behind.  I concentrated on stetching tall and sitting around him, and wrapping him around my inside leg without twisting my upper body. 

There were moments of absolute brilliance.  (Of course, no one was there to see it, but take my word.)  We felt balanced, and light, and together.  Who knew that actually sitting up like you're supposed to could make such a difference?

If you have a tendency, like me, to slouch or round your shoulders, or tilt to one side, or twist your torso [I do ALL of these things], I highly recommend starting off your ride with one hand behind your back.  It will really help!  As for whether the effects will last... well, YMMV.


  1. Nice ride! I depend on my reins way too much. I am going to try your suggestion to help with my balance.

  2. Such a simple fix, yet it seems to have made a world of difference! I am going to try this on Reno this week. He looooves to stretch long and low, but I have never paid much attention to stretching myself at the same time. Excited to see what happens :)

    PS any barn with wine is my kinda barn!

  3. They make us do the hand behind the back
    exercise many times during the semester at CentenaRy! It really helps with upper body posture!

  4. What about the positive effects of a red wine belly creating a calm rider ;) LOL! I like it!

  5. Why is being in the right position so hard!? I struggle with mine as well so it's nice to hear from other people on it. I have found that when I am doing a lot of tack walking I focus really hard on my position, and it does help.:)

  6. Brilliant! I can't wait to try this out this evening. I constantly fall into the mindset that as long as I think I'm in the right position, I must be. I always forget that every part of my upper body is influencing my seat.

  7. Excellent ride! I kind of want to try it.


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