From Endurance to Dressage
Hula Hoop or Belly Dance?
Oh, I wish.
I don't look like that, and even if I starved, I will never look like that. But, the image is still helpful. When I went to the CDS Adult Amateur Clinic with Hilda Gurney last month, the one thing I really took away was the idea that my seat needs work.
Among other things, Hilda dinged me repeatedly for leaning too far back, particularly in the canter. I had trouble recognizing when I was doing it, and then even more trouble figuring out how to quit doing it.
Sometime during the clinic, Hilda suggested that riders should spend time with a hula hoop and pilates to strengthen their core. At the time, I didn't think much about it as I am pretty strong throughout my core. Once I got home, I realized the hula hoop and pilates weren't necessarily for strength building, but to teach the body how to move.
After the clinic, I had a lightening bolt of an AHA moment while schooling the walk-canter-walk transition with Speedy G. I do get left behind in the canter departure, which puts me too far back with my upper body. I realized that while I was trying to keep my core strong and engaged, I was tightening my whole torso from pelvis to shoulders!
All of a sudden, the idea of belly dancing or hula hooping made complete sense. Riding from our core doesn't mean that our whole torso has to be locked. Our bellies and pelvic region can move independently from our shoulders!
I've been spending a lot of my riding time imaging that I am hula hooping or belly dancing. I have figured out how to let my belly move in the canter (and trot) independently from my shoulders. This has done all sorts of things. It's helping me keep Speedy's hind legs engaged while still being able to ask him for some collection. My seat says go, but my hands can ask for whoa all the while "lifting" his front end.
It's been a game changer for sure. I know Chemaine won't have time to help me work on it this weekend at Expo, but she is doing seat evaluations in her booth for a small fee (free if your tell her that you're a reader!). You can bet I'll be first in line!
See you all on Monday!
6/8/2017 05:57:33 am
Dressage Rider Training(tons of free yoga and exercise videos) describes it as enough muscle engagement of the core to stay balanced with the horse but enough looseness of the hips to encourage the horse's free movement. I have found this super helpful, especially with adding in a ton of yoga and hip loosening exercises found on DRT YouTube to make it happen.
6/19/2017 08:14:54 am
That sounds about right. :0)
6/8/2017 11:01:42 am
What annoys me, when learning how to use seat/body to absorb motion, is that most instructors use analogies to describe it. "It's like belly dancing"... What does that even mean? I have no frame of reference for the majority of analogies used.
6/19/2017 08:18:41 am
EXACTLY!!!! Imagery does help me, but only so much. While I rode this morning, I knew that I needed to keep my seat plugged into the saddle, but no matter what I tried to do, my hips and pelvis would NOT melt into the saddle. I felt like a pogo stick up there.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: