The name of this blog is Centered in the Saddle, obviously. But since the Kirsten Nelsen clinic, my perspective on being centered has changed.
It’s clearly incredibly important to be centered while riding. But the problem is with being centered in the saddle. Because who says the saddle is in the right spot?
Drifter – and probably most horses – has problems with inverse rotation of his spine on a circle. This comes from trying to get that classic banana shaped bend that we’ve all been taught is the ideal. It’s not. The horse’s spine can’t laterally bend like a banana, so trying to make them into that shape throws off their balance and the function of their backs. This shows up in problems like pushing through the outside shoulder or cocking the inside hip. Both of these are manifestations of inverse rotation of the spine – basically rotating the spine toward the outside of the circle rather than the inside.
This creates an imbalance in the rider, too. The horse’s back is crooked, usually raising your inside hip and dropping your outside hip. For me, this means I compensate by collapsing my inside ribcage and tightening my inside leg. Not good.
To begin correcting this issue, you have to find your center over the ground. That won’t be the center of the saddle. Tracking right is harder for Drifter, so the imbalance is more pronounced that direction. I had to actually move my seat to the right (toward the inside of the circle) what felt like 2-3 inches. It’s a very strange feeling to be sitting off-center in the saddle. But I was actually straight over the ground, using my weight to balance Drifter’s back and allowing my own body to fall into alignment.
I don’t think I’ll be changing the name of my blog. But I definitely have a new perspective on balance and centeredness.