Holding stomach muscles?
 
 

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Holding stomach muscles?

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  • Holding abdominal muscle
  • Horse riding pulled tummy muscle

 
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    05-31-2011, 02:29 PM
  #1
Foal
Holding stomach muscles?

I've found that holding my stomach muscles in whilst riding has given me a better seat and also allows me to keep my heels down. Before, I found it hard to get weight into my heels and keep them down, but now I'm sitting taller due to holding my stomach muscles in, and this gives me a better postion. It's now just so much easier keeping those heels down, but is this the correct way to ride?

PS
I'm not forcing my Abdominal muscles the full way in, because then I'd slouch, but just half way in. Make sense lol
     
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    05-31-2011, 06:31 PM
  #2
Trained
Yes. What you're doing is using your core muscles to absorb some of your horse's motion so you're essentially sitting on him more quietly and allowing him to move in a more balanced way beneath you. If you watch an upper level rider who appears to be sitting there doing nothing, they are actually using their stomach muscles to varying degrees every stride to counteract their horse's motion. It's basically, horse produces X amount of energy/motion, rider uses stomach muscles to absorb X, the X's cancel out each other, and the result is horse and rider appearing to be a seamless pair. Long story short, you stumbled onto the correct way of riding.
     
    05-31-2011, 07:18 PM
  #3
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
Yes. What you're doing is using your core muscles to absorb some of your horse's motion so you're essentially sitting on him more quietly and allowing him to move in a more balanced way beneath you. If you watch an upper level rider who appears to be sitting there doing nothing, they are actually using their stomach muscles to varying degrees every stride to counteract their horse's motion. It's basically, horse produces X amount of energy/motion, rider uses stomach muscles to absorb X, the X's cancel out each other, and the result is horse and rider appearing to be a seamless pair. Long story short, you stumbled onto the correct way of riding.
So do I just tighten my abdominal muscles for the duration of the ride, or just a certain times?
     
    05-31-2011, 07:27 PM
  #4
Trained
You kind of want to be at 50% for most of the ride. While you don't want your body to be rigid, you don't want to be flopping around up there either. You want to save the bigger muscle crunches for half halts. Basically you want to keep your body in sync with the horse, and the stomach muscles are how you do it. You'll obviously need less at the walk than at the trot and so on, so just play with it. If you have access to mirrors, you'll be able to see how much your upper body is moving unnecessarily and whether you need to increase or decrease your efforts. Do you have a dressage instructor? This stuff is much easier to explain in person.
     
    05-31-2011, 07:41 PM
  #5
Weanling
As you developed as a rider you will not even notice when you are doing it and when you are not. I always tell my students to over exaggerate it in the beginning and then work on refining later.
     
    06-02-2011, 09:52 PM
  #6
Foal
Huh. I've never heard of this before. I have my next lesson on Saturday; maybe I'll try it. It does seem a little tiring, though, keeping your abs tight while riding. Just how tight do you mean? I do martial arts, which really builds up your abs, so I can pull mine in quite a bit. So how will I know if enough is enough? It just seems uncomfortable.
     
    06-03-2011, 12:18 AM
  #7
Super Moderator
Not pull you abdomin IN but firm up the core muscle, especially those that run on the side of your belly and lower back. If you just pull in your tummy, toward your spine, it will make you curl over and stifly your breathing. It is akin to the tightening of the lower body that occurs when you have a hard bowel movement. If you find you cannot breathe well, you are too tight.
     
    06-03-2011, 01:17 AM
  #8
Trained
Tiny jumped in before me on this one - it's not your outer abdominal muscles that are used in riding, it is your core muscles. The muscles which tighten when you cough or as tiny said, go to the toilet. Rather than sucking in your stomach, engaging the core muscles is more like a 'lifting' of your belly button.

Riding with an engaged core is an essential part of effective riding. If your core is not engaged, your seat will not be effective, (i.e. You will not have an 'independent' seat) and in the case of dressage, it will be near impossible to achieve any sort of half halt which leads to engagement and collection of the hind quarters.

The core muscles keep you upright in the saddle, allow your abdominal area and pelvic area to absorb the motion of the horse's movement and allow you to slow and speed up your own tempo to control that of the horse.

It is not a case of just bracing your core muscles from the moment you get in the saddle. As MBP said somewhere above, the degree of engagement of the core muscles depend on what you are doing in the saddle. If I am warming a horse up in a working, rising trot, allowing the topline to stretch down and out, my core will only be engaged enough to keep my upright and solid in the saddle. However, if I am beginning lateral and collected work, (and no, I'm not referring to just being on the aids, I'm talking genuine collected work), such as shoulder in, half pass or pirouette work, my core will be burning by the end of the session as the core muscles are what controls your seat and ability to 'hold' the horse together while maintaining energy. Trying to keep a big moving warmblood together in sitting trot and canter absolutely requires a high degree of core strength or you will never get anywhere!

A few exercises to help with your core strength, both to make you stronger and to be aware of when your core is engaged and when it is not -

1. A brilliant exercise for strengthening the core muscles is the 'plank'. Get onto the ground as though you are going to crawl like a baby. Rest on your elbows and toes, with your forearms facing straight ahead and elbows located directly under your shoulders. Raise your torso so that your body is dead straight and resting on your elbows and toes - do not arch your back or stick your backside in the air.
This will force you to hold your core muscles - and hell will you feel them!! Practice daily, most 'normal' females should be able to hold this pose for around 1 minute. As a dressage rider, I know my core strength is lacking if I cannot hold it for more than 5 minutes!

2. On the horse, and this one is a little 'rude' but works well. So sitting in the saddle, keep your ear-shoulder-hip-heel line. CLose your eyes and imagine you have a straw in your 'lady bits'. On the saddle there is a green pea (the vegetable ;) ) , and you need to suck it up with the straw. Your core muscles will activate if you are 'sucking' effectively!!

3. This can be done in the saddle or on the ground using a length of rope for reins. Hold the reins as though you are riding and get a friend to hold the other end of the makeshift reins. Relax your core muscles and let your torso go 'soft'. Have your friend pull the 'reins' forward without you letting go of the reins - you will almost certainly get pulled forward.
Now repeat the exercise, but keep your core engaged. I bet you will remain upright.

Hence - keeping the core engaged is also a safety consideration on a horse. A horse can suddenly reef the reins from your hands, or buck, trip etc. and if you do not have an engaged core, more than likely you're going to eat dirt. If the horse does the same and you have an engaged core and effective position, you're going to stay firmly in the saddle and be able to combat the problem.
     

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