What do the words Balanced, Centered mean to you? They have been on my mind quite a bit lately. To me they mean to me is when life is changing, the world changing, gravity, obligations, reality pulling at you. That you being so centered, focused and balanced that nothing moves you. That your strength is so concentrated in the right areas that you don't start to shift, and change with your surroundings. You don't have to reach for something to grab on to. You just stay. You cannot be moved. It is beautiful. It is strong. It is healthy. It is comfort. It is happiness, peace, contentment, progress, evolving, forward. Pretty much everything. There is so much changing around me. My entire world for the most part is moving shifting and going in many directions that are new. That can be unnerving and uneasy. My time, my schedule, where I live, what I do, when I do it. All of this can shift my feelings but they do not shake my center. I am kept together and remain in balance. In life I have my center, my core kept in balance with God, my husband, my children, my animals.
Balance in riding is equally as important. I don't just mean being able to stay balanced on a horse. I have had that skill honed since I was a 10 year old kid. But I mean both sides of your body weighted perfectly even. Your weight evenly distributed across the entire surface area that touches the horse. Your seat bones both with the same amount of pressure in your seat. Your shoulders even. Solid through your rib cage and equal on both sides. No collapsing one way or another.
Having a long riding break can be discouraging but it can also be like pressing the rest button on your position. When you start to fall into your bad habits and old muscle memory it can mean a world of difference. I have been starting back slow this year. And by slow I mean slower than you are probably thinking, nope even slower than that. Although I have been frustrated by that I have also been using that to my advantage. We work slow and I have just been paying attention to the small things. I have been haunted by going to the right for so long now. Every time we go to the right we struggled. He would fall to the inside, bulge his shoulder in, turning that direction was no fun when you are at full jumping speed on a tight course and in a dressage test it meant we always lacked right bend. I have done it all to try to fix it. I have been frustrated because I thought there was something wrong with my horse, that he was crooked and I need to fix it. I have had instructor after instructor try to help me with this in a hundred different ways. Finally after a culmination of all of the things I had an eye opening ride a few weeks back and have been progressing in that direction. I realized it was not my horse. Ha go figure right. Don't get me wrong he is not perfect and has his issues but the going to the right thing was all me. What was the aha moment you ask? Finding my right seat bone and concentrating reeeaaally hard to not lose it. Really, it's life changing those little bones. Other things go along with this in finding the seat bone but with me essentially what was happening is when I would go right I would tighten up my right side in attempt to use my right leg. Unintentionally scrunching up my leg, weighting my left seat bone and collapsing my rib cage to the right. But in finding that seat bone and letting my weight down through it is has a chain reaction where my leg becomes longer, my rib cage opens back up and you see this instant change. You have a horse moving braced, with his right shoulder bulging and having to steer to the right, I all the sudden see a change, his shoulder moves over, his neck becomes supple and you add leg and the bend around your leg happens. In reality my horse was crooked but I needed not to fix him but fix me. He was crooked because I was crooked. So what does balance mean to me? Everything.
Ride with Your Mind is life changing people and addicting.
I have heard a million times, "core, core, core, core, core" and while yes core is important you can have a very muscular core and all your muscles in your core tightened and still be completely crooked and sending your horse the complete wrong message. You need so much more then "core" strength and all the sit ups in the world are not going to fix unevenness.
Balance has much to do with why I am starting school tomorrow morning. I truly believe that the things I am going to school to learn about human and equine anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, are key in understanding how evenness in your body and your horses body will keep both horse and rider at their best. Staying centered in your body will help keep you centered in your mind and it will help your riding in ways you never realized it could, it will help your horses comfort, soundness and over all health. I am excited yet apprehensive. This process is going to be a big sacrifice for myself and my family for the next 13 months. If I didn't believe whole heartedly that it was that important and life changing for people then I wouldn't be doing it. I know I will have to remind myself many times over the next year about how important it is and not to get discouraged.
Here's to the world spinning around us but us being so balanced that we keep moving forward and not be lost in the unbalance of uncertainty.