Work the booty to improve your position

If you are unstable in the saddle, or lack balance, what is the FIRST thing someone tells you?

Strengthen your core.

Yes, the abs are important.  Most people have lost the ability to move from their “center”, therefore teaching someone how to work the core, not just do crunches, is VERY important.

However, there is one major muscle group that has proven time and time again that they are actually more important to functional movement than the abdominals: the GLUTES

The glutes consist of 3 major muscles:

  1. The gluteus maximus, which does external rotation and extension of the hip joint (moving the leg backwards).
  2. The gluteus minimus, which does abduction of the hip (moving the leg away from the body).
  3. The gluteus medius, which also does abduction of the hip (moving the leg away from the body).

As you can see these muscles are important mover and stabilizers of the hip joint.  The glutes assist us in walking, sitting, standing, climbing stairs, getting out of bed, and LITERALLY every lower body movement.

The problem these days, is that we SIT on the glutes all day long, rendering them weak and useless.  Without the proper use of the glutes, the hamstrings and lower back muscles end up taking over far more work than they should.  The abdominals are strong and can support a weak lower back, but if the lower back keeps having to compensate for sleepy glutes, then the abs will never be able to keep up. This will result in poor posture, back pain and a less than ideal position in the saddle.

Trying to ride without strong, active glutes is akin to trying to build a house without a foundation.

So how does this relate to you?

Without strong glutes your lower back and hamstrings will take over as primary movers. This provides a very unstable base of support for your upper body, which can show as bracing in the upper body and tension in the reins, as well as an unstable lower leg. You will also find riders with weak glutes clinging with their legs as they have no stability through the pelvis.

Weak glutes also leads to poor posture, as the abs are only able to compensate to a point. This is where the dreaded “shoulders back” battle begins. You will also see this manifested in riders that can’t seem to sit up straight and always tend to lean forward. The weak glutes lead to tight hip flexors and a weak upper body making it nearly impossible to sit up straight. This isn’t something that can be fixed in the saddle.

Think of the pelvis, and hips, as the foundation of a house. Without a strong foundation everything is weak and unstable. This applies to your riding as well.

Without a strong pelvis, which is stabilized by your glutes, you are going to lack the ability to maintain a proper position, which leads to unclear aids, poor posture, imbalances in your body due to compensation and a whole host of other issues, just like a bad foundation does for a house.

And here is the truth: Your imbalances become your horses imbalances which become your horses lameness.

Further, by allowing your lower back and hamstrings to take over while riding you are setting yourself up for back pain, knee pain and ankle pain as you compensate for the weakness.

Often I hear “I am just old, I get knee pain when I ride”.

And while degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, can lead to pain strengthening the proper muscles, and lengthening the tight tissue, is one of the best ways to not only combat chronic pain but prevent future pain.

But riders are soooo busy!

Now, I know riders are busy between working to pay for the horses and actually riding but it is crucial to make time for your own fitness, out of the saddle. And, no, mucking stalls doesn’t count.

Sinead Halpin said it best, in her recent article Making Time for Fitness Outside the Saddle with Sinead Halpin for useventing.com:

“If you’re competitive, if you don’t want to have chronic low-grade pain, if you want to be kind to your horse by riding well, you will find it important to find an exercise routine that works to keep you supple and strong,” Halpin concluded. “Just do it. I have 23 horses on the farm, an 8-month-old, and a mortgage to pay without a major sponsor and I find the time, so just do it.”

Riding will feed into your imbalances. If you are weak on the left, and therefore lean into the right you will lean more into the right stirrup as you get more exhausted in the saddle. Especially out on cross country it becomes dangerous to have a riders imbalances being magnified when the horse, as well, may be getting tired.

If you sit at a desk all day and therefore have weak glutes and tight shoulders, causing you to slouch into a chair seat in the saddle no amount of yelling “Shoulders back” and no amount of custom saddles will fix YOUR issues.

Further, if you continue to get on the horse with the same issues it doesn’t matter how much money you dump into their massage, Back on Track, Chiropractic, acupuncture, etc. YOU will continue to cause the same imbalances in the horse until it causes a lameness. And then, well, your horse is out of the game until the injury has healed, if it can be.

A blank slate.

We are all adults right? I can be a straight shooter?

You are an athlete. Start training like it! Not only does improving as a rider depend on it but your horse depends on you to show up as YOUR best self everyday.

To help you get started I am developing a YouTube channel with free workouts for riders looking to get fit. Here is a quick booty blast to help kick off your new fitness plan!

For more videos and tips make sure to follow me on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/the.equestrians.advantage

Or join the FREE The Equestrians Advantage community at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/426232728129685/

As a former sport horse vet tech,eventer and certified personal trainer I am passionate about starting a movement towards rider fitness OUT of the saddle to improve not only the riders, well, riding, but to also improve soundness in the horse.

I hope you found this helpful!

Ashley

Equestrian Problems

I overheard someone complaining about their cats $50 per month medication.

$50. Per month.

Now, I am not saying anything bad about cats. If my husband wasn’t so allergic I would be the crazy cat lady!

But this got me wondering how absolutely out of touch riders are with reality! So, from my beautiful unicorn, I wrote my top 5 equestrian problems!

1) I have horses scattered across Ontario. When was the last time you lived 2 hours from one of your baby cats and 45 minutes from your large retired fat cat and small mini cat.

Well, photo angle makes the mini look like a maxi.

Cuteness beats logic every time!

Prior to baby I had visited Niagara Falls about as many times as I can count on one hand, in my 33 years, and I limit visits to family due to kilometers and “wear and tear” on my car. Baby Loki is 3 weeks old and I have made the 2 hour drive 3 times.

Sorry not sorry. Cars can be replaced.

2) I basically pay a mortgage payment to two different barns to keep the horses. That doesn’t include feet, vet, chiropractic, massage, nothing! Oh ya, and because Monty (fat retired cat) has back arthritis he is currently wearing $700 worth of blankets.

$700.

MY jacket isn’t even worth that much. And my husband went 2 winters WITHOUT a winter jacket so Monty could get more Back on Track blankets for his sore back!

Oh, and the $50 meds? How about $160 in Omeprazole for 30 days for your sensitive Sally’s belly. And that isn’t even the brand name Omeprazole. I don’t want to be the cause of heart problems, from shock, in my non horse friends so let’s continue on!

Monty living his best life.

3) I quit my job as an equine vet tech and got a job in a busy call centre to afford my horses.

Will this work?

And the “greatest” part about horses is that they will just keep filling the new budgets. It is never ending.

Got a higher paying job? Awesome, because your horse put its leg through a fence and needs stitches (true story from Christmas Day at 4:30pm 2017).

Opened a savings account? Stop kidding yourself and skip the sad truth of putting the money in just to take it back out. Just send the money straight to the tack store for the new custom saddle.

Bonus? Better call the chiropractor for the horse and someone to clip your Yak of a pony.

It. Never. Ends.

Now my savings account sits at $0.02.

But my recent promotion means they have new space to expand into!

4) Not one of my horses have a job. I have 3 horses and I am not able to ride one!

Monty was my eventer but was retired at 8 after years of on and off soundness issues. Turns out my future superstar has severe osteoarthritis in his spine. My mini, Oreo, was bought as his companion for shows and now is living his best life as a feral retired pony!

And my new born dream foal is living his best life in baby heaven!

Hopefully one day baby Loki will be my eventing super star otherwise I am collecting “broken” horses!

5) Vacations? Weekends away?

Old vacationing pics will have to do!

Vacations are unknown words to the Equestrian! Equestrians are too broke for vacations and weekends are for horse shows!

My poor husband and I have a cottage we rarely use because he can’t drag me away from the horses long enough!

Why go out of town when you can go to horse shows?

Regardless….

For all the stress, money and time horses cost.

For the ascinine vet bills that build up on your secret credit card.

The heartbreak over an 8 year old with so much potential having to be retired.

The constant worry over temperature and if your horse is too hot or too cold.

Wondering if you are doing all the things right and helping your horse live their best life.

Wearing clothes with holes in them so you can put the money into board at the best facility you can find (and the sleepless nights finding it).

For the missed vacations, weekends in the barn instead of on a beach and the partners that wonder wtf they got themselves into.

For all the craziness….

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Owning a horse is expensive. More expensive than your cat or dog. Or 10 cats and dogs. And sometimes they don’t pay attention to you ( I guess sort of like a big cat)….

Eff off lady, I only love my mom.

But is it ever worth it.

Once you are horse girl you will die a horse girl.

It is like a virus that pumps through your veins.

And you will lay down your last penny, your last breath, for your horse.

I would legitimately do sketchy things to make sure my horses only had the best. Selling organs in Mexico is a viable option, right?

So while we may be a bit crazy, and insanity ensues on the reg, it is worth every second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Xo

Ashley