April 24, 2018

NK Lesson Wrap-Up: It's All in the Hips

Sunday could not have been more different from Saturday.  This was my first time riding with NK two days back to back, and it was so much more effective than one day.

Somehow I managed to make Connor look like a mini and my trailer look enormous here.

Unlike our "level setting" ride the day before, on Sunday she came out firing.  We started out by switching back and forth between shoulder in and haunches in at the walk.  And holy cow, nothing like learning you were riding an entire movement wrong!  (No seriously, I live for being told I'm wrong and learning why.)

All KPG clinic photos from Leah

Our SI was fine, but she quickly had me stop after seeing a couple of HI attempts.  She said, "Your hips aren't moving at all!  Your legs are important, but not as important as your hips.  I mean, this is important now, but you're on the verge of half pass, and down the road, flying changes, and that's all about this hip stuff, so we better fix this NOW, okay?"

One more time: Hello my name is Crooked.

She verbally explained what my hips were supposed to do, but as usual, I learn best when people put my body parts where they need to go.  "Excuse my touch," she said, as she put one hand on either side of my hips.  "Shoulder in [hips turned into the ring], haunches in [hips turned out of the ring], shoulder in, haunches in".

Armed with that feeling from her hands moving my hips, I did a HI properly and WOW.  It felt totally different from the way my uneducated brain thought it rode.  But interestingly enough, I was completely unable to do HI on the left rein - my hips would not turn to the outside.  This is also the direction I can't bend as far if I try to twist, just sitting in a chair or standing.

Connor using the small hole haynet for the first time ever.

At the end of the ride, she had me get off the horse and practice SI and HI with my feet on the ground.  Shoulders straight ahead, hips turning appropriately, and legs moving in the footfall of the horse, with an exaggerated high "push" for when my outside leg is "pushing" in the HI.

As strange as it sounds, it was really helpful: for all her good explanations earlier in the ride, that was the first time that it clicked that my legs are really in the same position for both movements, although with different amounts of pressure.

Two homies eating breakfast before we left.

Once we had that established, we moved on to canter/walk transitions.  We started out with a turn on the haunches, putting our new aids to work, and then from it we picked up the canter and...ran him into a wall.  Seriously.  She said, "Most of them are smart enough to stop, and the ones that aren't, I don't keep around."

Basically, we used the wall as an aid to ask for the transition without me getting tense and pulling.  It was helpful, but there's still so much work to be done there.

And it won't happen until I get my position together.  I am literally riding him onto his forehand here.

Major Takeaways:

  1. Need far less tension in my right/strong leg
  2. Need to start using the Franklin balls again!  My lack of lower core strength is holding me back.
  3. Need to pay attention to the direction the right hip is pointing
  4. Need to sit on the outside hind.  No really, SIT.
  5. Need to do yoga or something to develop the ability to ride the left HI

Man we missed NK!


  1. Awesome takeaways! I have been focused on tackling my crookedness recently too - it's interesting to make all of these new observations about my riding, take it all apart, and figure out how to strengthen everything and put it back together. Spoiler alert: figured out why my left half pass doesn't work so well. Has to do with hips and seat bones, too ;)

  2. Crooked is a thing we all do. Frustrating AF, but at least knowing there's a problem is the first step to fixing it!

  3. Ugh - my right hip has a similar issue... Yoga definitely helps - but the hip opening asanas are pretty uncomfortable at first. SO jealous of non-crooked riders. Also love the tiny Connor pic. :D

  4. My right hip does not move back. So I have a wicked shoulder in right but a sucky left one. I was taught that if the saddle was a clock, and the pommel is 12 and the cantle 6, I need to move my right hip to 5 for haunches in left. It's so hard to get it past 3!

  5. I also love learning I was wrong about something! Usually it's something that has been difficult in the past so to learn I was doing it wrong is often a relief. If you find any good hip exercises, definitely share them! Mine are also super tight.

  6. Great takeaways and I am going to try this with more hip action in my next ride!

  7. Love all your progress lately!! So exciting to follow along.

  8. Sounds like a great lesson! I also used the wall trick for canter/walks to start out with. :)