Ahead of my trip to work with a group of dressage riders in the Netherlands in a few weeks, I wanted to write another piece for riders. If you don't ride, this will still - with a little brain power - probably be useful for your sport so read it anyway.
Most riders find their riding to be a little asymmetrical. While crooked horses can of course play a part in this, in my experience working with riders, significant differences can be made rapidly by purely addressing asymmetries in the rider's posture and movement. THAT'S RIGHT - a straighter rider can help their horse straighten! I have worked with riders doing minor movements on their horse for less than two minutes that led to them being able to do something they had assumed impossible due to their horse's deficiencies for many years.
Even with me not being there with you right now to help you directly, I'd like to give you an idea of what you may be able to do to straighten out your horse by straightening out yourself. What I'm about describe is simple, not easy and will work to different extents based on a number of factors; factors that I deal with in person.
First, take a look at and get a feel for your own straightness with the help of a mirror and by lying on the floor.
In the mirror, you may be able to see asymmetries in how you stand - your head position, the level of your shoulders, the height of your hips and whether you look to be putting more weight on one of your feet than the other. Make a note of how you stand.
On the floor, laid out flat, pay attention to the feeling of yourself against the floor and any differences in weight between the sides. Does one ass cheek press heavier? How about your shoulders? Does your head feel on its centre or rolled and/or rotated? You can even lift your head up from the floor to see how you organise your lower body and if your pelvis and chest lay flat or are higher on one side.
Through this mirror and floor self-examination, you can construct a 3D image of how you hold yourself at rest. While some people move differently in motion than their resting posture may lead you to believe, this should give most of you a good place to begin experimenting from.
Now, from your regular standing position make a small movement into THE OPPOSITE PATTERN. This means if one shoulder is higher, intentionally make the other higher. If one side of your pelvis is usually forward, take a little step forward with the other side to bring that side of your pelvis forward. If your head usually leans one way, lean it the other.
Coordinating this movement may take some doing so feel free to build it up piece by piece.
Keep your movements light and gentle - this isn't a workout - and pay attention the the feelings of moving in this other way.
Practising this opposite pattern so that you can make a few such movements before climbing on your horse on the next outing may give you a pleasant surprise without even intentionally doing the opposite on your horse.
Let me know or come see me in the Netherlands on my visit. To find if there's a slot to suit you, I'm on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-riders, what sort of differences will moving more symmetrically make to you in your sport?
Arton "Straight down the line" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Injury Rehab and Performance, Harley Street, London W1