Monday, May 14, 2012

Debbie Sams: Arched Back — Problems and Solutions

Part 4 in the "Deep Seat" series

The root of the problem is that the rider is tipping her hips forward. This causes the back to arch and the seat bones to not be connected to the horse. It also causes the rider’s shoulders to lean forward, which can put the horse on his forehand. Tipping forward like this leaves you vulnerable to falling off over the horse’s shoulder. This lack of connection diffuses the ability of the seat to influence the horse as well (Illus. 9).

Illus. 9
Problem: Arched Back

  • Tuck your seat: Hold on to the pommel, and slide your seat bones forward on the saddle. This will tuck your buttocks more under your body (Illus.10).
Illus. 10
Solution: Tuck Seat

  • Touch helper’s hand: At a standstill have a friend hold her hand behind your lower back where the back should be and try to touch her hand with your spine (Illus. 11, Illus. 32, Illus. 33).

Illus. 11
Solution: Touch a hand behind you

Illus. 32
Problem: Too much lower back curve

Illus. 33
Solution: Stretch lower back flat to touch instructor's hand

  • Belly button to spine: Think about pulling your belly button back to your spine (Illus.12).

Illus. 12
Solution: Pull belly button to spine

  • String on pubic bone: Picture a string on your pubic bone. Imagine that this string is pulling upward. This is the way the muscles of the abdomen should work. They should pull up and release in rhythm, especially in trot. See in your mind’s eye your pubic bone moving forward and up (Illus.13).

Illus. 13
Imagine a string attached to your pubic bone pulling upward

  • Stomach in/tuck seat: This is similar to the exercises above. If you have any experience with ballet, you will be familiar with pulling the stomach in and tucking the seat (Illus. 14).

Illus. 14
The ballet position

  • Hinged back: Visualize a hinge at your waist. The upper body should stay tall while the waist and hips are allowed to move with the motion of the horse (Illus. 15).

Illus. 15
Visualize a hinge at your back

  • Barbie bend at waist: This image is like the last. Imagine that you can bend at the waist like a Barbie, without collapsing your upper torso (Illus. 16).
Illus. 16
Barbie bends at waist

These exercises can be overexaggerated. Have a grounds person watch you and let you know when you are aligned properly.

Read Part 1 (Sticking to Your Horse with a Deep Seat) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 2 (Deep Seat versus Light Seat) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 3 - (Deep Seat Problem and Solution) in the "Deep Seat" series

Debbie Sams teaches English and Western riding with an emphasis on dressage. At her Springer's Stables in Broadalbin, New York, she also teaches drill team and vaulting. Her farm gives pony parties and holds horse camps for scouts and local community college and elementary school youth programs, as well as for the Sacandaga Bible Conference and Retreat Center. Debbie has been teaching drama and drill team on horseback since 1979; in 1985 she became a Certified Horsemanship Association Instructor. She is the author of 101 Drill Team Exercises and has also put her horse knowledge to work in writing for such publications as Practical Horseman, Equus, and the Northeast Horseman’s Journal.

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