The Hole

One of the photos my Favorite Barn Rat got at the clinic is an excellent example of what "Falling Into the Hole" looks like:

Connor is putting me squarely into The Hole here.

We started identifying and working on this after his partial training month in April.  JLC described it as the points of his vertebrae rotating so much farther than they should be.  I believe he may have even used the word 'extreme' in Connor's case.  In the saddle, it feels like his back totally falls away from my seat on the right with every step.  When he's on my aids, his back stays flat, like a table.

Back level, on my aids, no Hole here.  Photo by Connor's breeder.

To fix it back in April, we first thought about "gluing the right seatbone to the saddle", which did help.  It seemed counterintuitive, but he stood up more when I did it.  What we're doing now is thinking "Up!" every time the right seatbone would otherwise go down.  It means my pelvis stays level and he usually raises that side up to meet me after feeling that change.

He also tends to halt squarely when he's keeping his back level - how's that for 'a leg on each corner', Lisa?  (Well-built Welsh Cobs are supposed to have "a leg on each corner".)  Photo by Favorite Barn Rat.

When he puts me in the hole, my entire body is ineffective and being moved around so much with each stride.  Staying out of the hole also requires tension in my lower back just above my pelvis, and even when doing all of that, he still tips me quite a bit at the beginning of each ride.  But the amazing thing is, once I get his back level, everything else falls into place and he gets very on my aids.

My trainer is not that much bigger than me, maybe 5" taller and about the same type of frame, but says its possible that I don't have enough mass to be as effective at staying out of The Hole right now, because even when I'm doing everything right, it's hard to neutralize a motion that big.   The end goal is to strengthen his back muscles and rewire his preferred way of going to the point that The Hole stops being so much of an issue.

Good pony.  Photo by Favorite Barn Rat.
Have any of you ever fought The Hole?

21 comments:

  1. Yep. There's some kind of "hole" or imbalance at the start of every ride while I work at getting Pig's back unlocked and supple. Usually it's related to him not stepping up and under enough with his hinds, so I am very cognizant to get both hinds stepping in front and across in leg yields and on circles (SI on a circle. Traver on a circle to spiral in.). Once his back is supple, he's flat and there's a place for me to sit. I try not to sit before then to help him lift his back and get comfortable. I also do a bit of cantering before I sit, as that seems to further help his back unlock and lift while I sit. I have to be very aware of his hind end while we canter. The hollow spot often correlates to the hind that isn't working as hard, which is always our back right.

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  2. My teacher has worked a lot with me on lifting the inside of the horse by allowing and making space for him to lift into rather than drop. In dressage, there is so much emphasis on sitting on the inside seatbone,but this is counter productive for a horse that trends to drop the inside. More support is felt under that inside seatbone when the horse is lifting up as he should, but pressing down on the inside is not the same thing. It took a while for me to really grasp that concept.

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    1. That makes sense - I think we are talking about the same thing when I said she changed to asking me to lift the inside seatbone and stay up instead of thinking about staying down and attached to the saddle on that side. It's a hard concept for sure.

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  3. I know I have. I would agree with your trainer that I have a much easier time getting rid of the hole on Katai than on some of the larger horse's I've ridden in the past. I do need to remember to be consistent about lifting and allowing her to lift that part of her back.

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    1. I think you read that backwards, haha. My trainer thinks because I'm so small, I have a harder time getting rid of the hole on Connor than she does.

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  4. Paddy has one under his left hind. It's more of a weakness right now, and I sit badly to the right (marks on my saddle do not lie), so together we make a hot mess.

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  5. I fall into The Hole on Gina- I collapse my right side and sit too heavily on that seat bone! I have to consciously remind myself to even my weight out.

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    1. Yeah, it's hard to do and a very easy way you can enable each other into some bad habits. Ask me how I know!

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  6. Interesting, yes I think I have a hole too

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    1. Yes I think I have a few. Wait that's not what you meant. Sorry, totally inappropriate, but I giggled like a fifth grade boy when I read your comment.

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  7. I'm sure Courage has a hole, per se, but until I get myself straightened out, I can't really tell you where it is.

    So it goes.

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    1. Yeah. I mean...we've had this problem as long as I've had him (four years in November) and I'm just now getting around to recognizing it and being able to fix it so...no rush. Haha.

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  8. i know this Hole of which you speak!!! i am always in it!!!

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  9. At first I was like "wtf do you mean hole?!" and then reflecting on how I hate how Murray feels when I'm traveling right sometimes, I was like "oh the hole." Yeah, there's a hole. And the hole feels way worse when my body is straight. I need to learn more about this hole.

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    1. Yeah, it's not something you realize normally because you think it's just the way the horse goes, but it can be fixed. There will be more hole posts!

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  10. I have a little horse I ride somewhat regularly who does this. He drops his left hind out from under him and places me in a nice hole. He's like "okay you sit there, and I will go over here and spook at that thing while you try to get out of your hole." Luckily he's very responsive to the aids so it's easy to fix, but he's so mad when you catch him doing it!

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    1. Yes! Okay good, that makes me feel better. Connor does the same thing. Our warmups are spent pretty much entirely on straightening him out/getting rid of the hole these days, because with it, we can't do anything.

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  11. we don't have a 'hole' per se, but i frequently find myself riding the left side of my horse more than the right side... it's difficult to fix!!

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