Connective tissue that supports soft tissues, provides a smooth and gliding surface for joints and assists the growth and development of bones.
Connective living tissue that is calcified. Provides protection to vital organs, supports the bodies structure, acts as levers whilst combined with muscles creating movement and contains blood producing cells.
There are two types, Synovial , which are connected by an articular cavity and a solid joint which is joined by connected tissue.
Connective tissue that separates, supports and connects organs and structures which carry vessels and nerves.
There are 3 types of muscle in the body. Skeletal muscle which is the powerful tissue of muscle in the body. Cardiac muscle in the walls of the heart and Smooth muscle which is found in the walls in blood vessels for example, the eyeball, follicles in the skin.
A tendon is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension.
A ligament is the fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones.
Each nerve is a cordlike structure that contains many nerve fibres. Within a nerve, each nerve fibre is surrounded by a layer of connective tissue. The nerve provides a pathway for impulses to conduct signals throughout the body.
The saddle should help not hinder the rider and assist you with balance and keeping you centred. Your pelvis should rest in the deepest part of the saddle and not put any strain on your hip joints by forcing you into a position which may then cause you to hollow your back and become fatigued.
There are differences between the female and male pelvis. For men the sacram is long and curved allowing them to sit on their tail bones whereas the female’s sacram is more tipped and her lumbar too, when she relaxes, her pelvis will tend to rock forwards and her back will naturally hollow. The angle between the two arms (seat bones) of the pubic arch is 80-85 degrees in women and just 50-60 degrees in men. With this in mind it is worth thinking about how your saddle is supporting your seat bones.
It is very common that to change your riding position to become a more correct classical, balanced and centered rider can be challenging and can even make you feel out of balance but once the new position is found and your muscle memory changed your joint angles registered and your overall body calibrated the full benefits become very apparent.
As adults the primary curve of the vertebrae reflects the original shape of how we were as an embryo this is maintained in the thoracic and sacral region. The concave curvature in the cervical and lumbar regions balance our body weight and keeps our centre of gravity into alignment using the least amount of muscular energy to maintain our posture. Therefore with practice, finding our true alignment over time whilst riding will then become natural, easier and less tiring.
The movement between any two vertebrae is limited but with all vertebrae working together this gives freedom to move, more so in the lumbar area which assists the lower part of your body to absorb movement and synchronise with your horse.
The aim when riding is to appear still, but this is far from the case, your whole body will be moving in unison absorbing various movements from your horse. Sometimes there is confusion and riders become stiff and even rigid trying to hold their perfect position which then travels through the horse, the horse then becomes a mirror and stiffens then becomes hollow causing both horse and rider discomfort of which can then be a downward spiral.
To move in harmony takes practice and sometimes we have to really get ourselves to relax even to the point of thinking of slumping so we can try to release the tensions we hold whilst riding.
A couple of things for you to try
Swinging belly – Just riding in walk allow yourself to feel the swing of your horses belly from side to side like a pendulum. As your horses belly swings to the left you may be able to feel your right leg stretch down a little further, plus how about your right seatbone and hip at that moment do they lower a little naturally. Then how about when your horses belly swings to the right, does your left leg stretch down a little further, does your left hip and seat bone lower.
Hind leg flight phase – Again feeling the swing of your horses belly to the left his right hind will be in flight phase swinging through the air before being placed down again and when his belly swings right his left hind will be in flight phase swinging through the air and then placed down. A quick and easy way to think about it is your horses belly swings out of the way for his hind leg to come through.
Now how much better will it be to allow your body to synchronise with your horses movement and further more if you gave an extra nudge and release with your right leg whilst the belly is swinging to the left this would be the perfect timing to communicate with your horses right hind to cross over to the left improving your lateral work. Long gone would be the days where you are struggling and overusing your leg trying to get your horse to move away from it with you praying it will happen, as don’t forget once your horses foot is placed on the ground and weight bearing there is no point trying to battle away trying to get him to move it as he can’t until it lifts again for the flight phase.
Written by: Sam Jamieson © 2015
If the lower back is hollow and you are not breathing from your diaphragm then it’s difficult to widen your shoulders without making them stiff. The support for your shoulders comes from your pelvis and your abdomen muscles, if you try to force your shoulders back this uses incorrect muscles which then tire easily.
Try and aim that your shoulders and hips are square with your horses and to sit quietly, which, I must add is harder than you think as we like to be doing and through evolution we have been programmed that we have to work hard to get results and so we can end up doing too much when really less is so much more. For instance one quote I regularly say to people is “the art of using the leg or the spur on your horse is not using it” this is so so true.
When you sit correctly fascia and muscles support the bodies internal organs and support your torso enabling your arms and legs to hang freely, giving you the ability for your hands and legs to be independent. Good posture is alignment of your body. Find your neutral position inbetween slumping and sitting up too straight, engaging your back and abdomen muscles help you to maintain this position which then raises your ribcage. By pushing your sternum forwards too far this positions your rib cage incorrectly out the front, when you slump your ribcage is too far back, in the neutral position your muscles don’t tire so easily.
Your pelvis is a very important part of your body when riding and must sit level, if your saddle is not level, riding correctly can be very difficult, whereas a small adjustment to the saddle can save a lot of frustration.
Your aim is to sit in the neutral position if this is not the case you will restrict the amount of movement in your hip joint. If the pelvis is tipped forward or back the ligament that attaches the thigh bone to the pelvis tightens causing the leg to draw up, when the pelvis is in neutral it relaxes and this then allows you and your horse to move as one.
If you force your foot against the stirrup the ankle cannot absorb the motion, the force will travel up into your hip and lower back. If you tip your toe down and your heel up this has a tendency to affect the rest of your body by tipping you forward and your ankle again cannot absorb the motion.
It is a partnership between you and your horse, your horse balances you and you balance the horse. It takes training and musculature building for both horse and rider to be at their best.
To remain balanced voluntary contraction and relaxation by muscles need to come into play. If the muscles are contracted for too long this is where stiffness and gripping takes place and causes a loss of balance. This in turn causes the horse difficulty and in turn the horse becomes the rider’s mirror. When you grip this is uncomfortable for the horse and if tension arises your horse will not be reassured. We have to develop awareness and train ourselves to let go.
Written by: Sam Jamieson © 2015