My "challenge" 100%, except in addition to some hardening and tensing in my glutes, I really tend to harden through the lumbar spine! Relaxing my buttocks and low back is extremely difficult since we've realty begun working the canter, and at this gait primarily this occurs (though it was a mild problem when I began working sitting trot a lot as well). I don't have any clue why it is that by the fourth stride of the horse's canter, I've gone from relaxed and moving with her fairly well in a following seat, to this stiffness which I cannot, yet, for the life if me seem to control! I am not afraid of falling, of being run away with, of anything that I can consciously put a finger on. I naturally have a realistic amount of trepidation, (I'm on a swift moving, large animal, and I'd be an idiot to have no sense of self-preservation need!), but it certainly is not an overriding or even a mild, conscious "fear"...nonetheless, "something" is causing me to tense up.
My husband believes it's subconscious memory related to my fairly severe back injury suffered as a kid, after landing on a jump when my lesson horse ran out on a line... I don't know if it's that, or possibly his other theory. Her believes since it is exactly that area (my lumbar spine) which is compromised due to these two now degenerated disks (one is totally gone and not even fragments are visible on MRI, while the other looks like a mess of chunks between two vertebra), therefore, I already am used to holding my compromised areas rigid, and during the canter, I get more "protective" of my spine.
Either way, if I am going to be fair to the horse I ride, as a primary concern, and secondarily, if I'm going to improve at riding the canter, I HAVE to sort out this rigidity issue. She certainly cannot free and lift her back if my body is pounding on her with every stride.
What occurs is that as soon as I feel myself doing this "tightening up", I slow her (if she hasn't slowed herself already!) so I start over again, same thing occurs, and I never really get to practice loosening and relaxing.
Tis a tough situation, and if you find the solution, please, let me in on it! :0)
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