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.|