Why it's worth to write Butt with a capital B
Yesterday I was riding dressage, on a horse that does not belong to me. He is at the same stable as my horses and sometimes the opportunity is such that I get to have fun with him. Something very clear came to mind during our dressage session. As lately I am more focused on sharing my horse training knowledge, this way of describing what I am doing just popped up as I went along in a nice balanced canter...
When you find yourself in the saddle, you have this beautiful view through the horse's ears. Now think about this: where is your focus most of the time or for the biggest part?
Which of your body parts do you focus on?
Where is your focus on the horse?
Where are you looking?
How do you describe the strongest connection point with your horse?
And the strongest / clearest communication line?
Be aware for a moment and think about these questions, embrace the feeling of when you ride...
I love the feeling (verb) part within riding, feeling my body, feeling my balance, feeling the movements... I love it so much because I am a thinking person, it is only during riding that I experience "feeling" in such intensity.
So my focus and awareness is always on HOW it feels!
And what I realized yesterday very clearly: my feeling connection and communication is in my Butt! Yes, it is and I truly believe it also should be in my Butt.
I guess this was more clear to me now because it wasn't my own horse or my own saddle, so because it felt a bit different it was very prominent.
Some things to realize:B
The skin and muscles your are sitting on are the receptors of everything that is happening under the saddle
Your seat bones and pelvis are the foundation for your upper body and define it's position, balance and range of flexibility
Because your upper body is on top of it, the force acting on the saddle through your Butt is far bigger than any other communication from your hand or leg aids
Your hip joints are the connection to your legs, so your Butt together with the inside of the thighs define the space for your horses rib cage to move in
We are so used to sitting, that the feeling from our Butt is not prominently in our thoughts throughout the day (agreed the office chair is also to boring!)
So with the connection point to the horse we think about the least, we have the biggest influence and the best opportunity for two-way communication
Ah the joys of riding! Who doesn't love another great paradox in the world of everything horse...?
I guess you know the pictures where dressage is explained: you get a representation of the best posture for a horse to carry us. The horse should have an active hind leg, lower his hindquarters, step under the mass, use his belly muscles, lengthen his top line, raise the back and the withers. Repeat: lower the hind quarters, raise the withers...
But we are sitting in the worst spot for them to do exactly that!
We are far away from the hind leg, very close to the wither and sitting in the deepest part of the back in the arch at the thoracic vertebrae 13-15. Fortunately, due to the vertical position of the vertebrae in this part of the back, this is also a strong point.
But you have to think about this: your body weight is a downward force, on the position where the horse should raise his back up the most.
As a rider we can not just sit there and only think about our hands and leg aids!
So back to my moment yesterday: Once I sat with relaxed Butt muscles, my legs loosely draped around the ribs and my upper body balanced and aligned with my pelvis, the horse could join in the dance. He relaxed his top line, raised his withers, stepped far under with the hind leg and made a beautiful canter extension in balance and the easiest collection followed. Heavenly moments and for the mental picture I made: I didn't have to look at the horse, I felt it all in my Butt! ;-)
Next time you ride (and every time after that) start being even more conscious of your Butt. What do you feel? What are you doing that your horse feels?
Whether you like it or not, your Butt should become your favorite body part
Your horse feels everything you are doing up there, do you realize this?
Can you feel what happens under you?
Are you giving any unintended messages?
Can you make your Butt connection very balanced and get the communication line very quiet? If so, get ready to experience a new level of riding with refined aids.
And that's why I think it is worth to write Butt with a capital B! :-)