The only way to reach your goals is to identify your weaknesses, then work your but off for it.
Even since my days of dance classes I have been told two things; My hips are not square therefor throwing off my center of balance, and I have a lovely toe turn out. After developing tendonitis in my left Achilles in early high school, physiotherapy showed that I had short tendons in the backs of my ankles. This was not surprising seeing as I had naturally been walking on my toes since I could walk. Well this might be alright for pointing my toes in dance class, that was not the case with getting my heels down in horseback riding. It only made sense that I should then choose horseback riding as the hobby that would take over my life of course.
Although I would consider myself an effective rider, I have two main flaws in my equitation that prevent me from being a better rider.
The first flaw is my center of balance. In the saddle I tend to drop my right hip and lean right, sometimes quite dramatically. At times I might even throw in a little lift of the right shoulder to unsuccessfully try and even things out. This especially gets me into trouble with bending lines to the left, and cutting the corners coming off the jumps and going right.
The second flaw in my equitation are my heels and lower leg. While I have been much better at establishing connection with the horse through my lower leg instead of controlling him all the time with my seat, the angle of my ankles still puts up a major barrier. The way my feet want to sit in the stirrups puts my big toe in the air, and my pinkie toe down which rotates my ankle to the wrong angle and restricts my lower leg from properly sitting against the horse. With my ankles at this angle it is impossible to therefor get my heels down properly.
With suggestions from my coach and a little internet research I have found two exercises to start with in trying to correct my Equitation flaws.
Pull out the old Wii balance board folks!
Wii fit has numerous games and activities with the board that are all based on balance. To start, I tried my luck with the Center of Gravity Test. Result – needs improvement..
There are many other balance games to try on Wii Fit that require minimal movement, great way to start a lazy morning.
By sitting flat on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me I start by placing the middle of the rubber band one at a time on the palm of my foot, and holding the band a few inches from the ends in each hand, allowing some tension. Some things I can do with this exercise are pointing and flexing my foot – spending longer flexing the foot before pointing it – and lifting and holding my foot a few inches off the ground while the foot is flexed. The back of your legs and your ankles should feel an uncomfortable stretch, but not so much that it hurts.
So, I will be playing around with these exercises all week and will see how it has affected my riding and overall equitation by the end of this week.
To be continued. . .