Our core isn’t just about our abs, our core includes all the muscles that help stabilize our ribs as well as our pelvis. Now I like to visualize my pelvis like a round bowl of water and when I am sitting square and balanced that bowl of water is flat with no spills. So this requires me to sit evenly and square on both my seat bones. I then consider my ribcage area in the same way. Imagine another bowl of water, again making sure it is flat and not tipped backward or too far forward.
Can you then line up the two bowls of water directly above each other so they are evenly balanced and stable? This requires creating your neutral spine, bringing your rib cage over the top of your hips so that they are in a straight line. For some, this requires a shortening of the front of the body while lengthening the back.
When we get ourselves into this balanced position the body can then transmit force and absorb the horse’s movement efficiently. Often in many riders and this is my weakness my ribcage tips backward too much as I have the tendency to pull my shoulder back without setting my neutral spine, this then causes water to tip out the back and a hollow back is created. I then need to make sure I am really focusing on lining up my two bowls of water by first beginning at the base of my pelvis. Sitting square and even on both seat bones and creating my neutral spine and thinking of lengthening my back.
Now our ribs are actually very mobile and move much more than we think, not to mention once you add in the force of a horse underneath you! Our ribs play a big role in keeping us aligned, so this requires good activation of our obliques on both sides as well as our central abdominals to help stabilize and maintain this balanced position.
Once you have created this balance and aligned the body correctly the key then is to use the muscles to maintain this, but to become elastic and supple within this alignment. It really is an art!
Try practicing lining up your bowls (ribs and pelvis) when you are sitting at your desk and driving your car. The more and more you practice this, the easier it will become upon the horse and you will master this art by making it second nature to you.
Inside the dressage rider training program I go into detail about postural alignment and give you all the tools and exercises to help improve your balance and posture. Get yourself started today, by downloading our free guide here.