Last week, we talked about some of the physical mechanisms that will free you up to balance and steer side to side better. The experiment on the chair where you shifted your weight will have helped free up the ribs and neck so that even though you would not do this experiment while riding a horse, unicycle or other saddled entity, you would take what you learned with you to your benefit.

If you again find the edge of a firm seat with your sit bones, you can repeat your experiment in a different dimension. Shift your weight backward on your sit bones towards your tail bone and then come back to your starting position. As you do this many times, slowly and comfortably, pay attention to how you move your spine. As you roll towards your tailbone, how does your lower back curve? It rounds, right? How far up your spine do you feel this rounding? When your lower back rounds as you roll back, what does your stomach do?

Now instead of rolling back towards your tailbone, roll smoothly and slowly forwards towards your feet. Make your movements small and pay close attention to what you do with your spine now. You arch your back, right? An easy arch rolling your weight to the front and then returning to the middle many times where you aren't actively arching or rounding and you are on the natural place for your sitbones. 

As you roll forward, what happens to your ribs? If you put your hands on them, you will feel they open up in the front. As you return to the middle, they close a little.

If you then begin rolling forward and backwards, you will feel the opposite happens with the spine and ribs in each direction. As the front opens up, the back closes and vice versa.

Now notice what happens if you keep your eyes and head level with the horizon by putting your hands gently around your neck. As you roll back, your spine rounds (getting longer at the back) and your neck shortens at the back and as you roll forward, you arch your back and the back of your neck lengthens. You feel a very similar reciprocal relationship to in the rolling side to side experiment. You may have also noticed differences in ease and range between rolling forwards and backwards like you did in the side to side experiment.

Most of us with feel restrictions while we do this in our back, ribs and neck that make this a little less easy than it could be.

The fascinating thing is that even the parts of us that seem irrelevant to this movement can be majorly contributing. The moveability of our ankles, knees, pelvic floor, diaphragm, tongue, jaw and eyes can significantly affect this front to back movement. Sometimes we can't even feel how we reduce our abilities. Getting all of these regions functioning better individually and as a whole can open up abilities we were never aware of.

If you have passively read this pair of articles, you will have got nothing from it that will have improved your riding. I urge you to do the little experiments so you can notice these relationships through experience while improving them effortlessly. As with most things, the more you practise finding these little differences in quality in your movement, the more they will iron themselves out and the more able you will become. 

You may even notice differences in your standing and general moving after doing these. This light, graceful feeling is the feeling of being more athletic.

Do the experiments, claim your athletic upgrade and enjoy your riding.

 

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 How not to stay in the saddle, rodeo style

How not to stay in the saddle, rodeo style