November 17, 2020

Core-Focused Lunge Lesson

Ever since my lesson a few weeks ago in which I lamented my lack of core being a default, Mary has wanted to give me a lunge lesson. Being a die hard H/J lover (more J than H), the hardcore Dressage biomechanics is something she's not as familiar with, but she threw herself into learning more about it and dreaming up exercises that would help my brain find my core.

We finally got the chance last weekend, and I was shocked at how much it helped. In some ways it was better than a Mary Wanless lesson for activating my core.

At the halt, she had me start by bending forward and backward in the saddle, one vertebrae at a time, without letting go of my seat. This forced me to fire my low abs in order to keep my butt from coming off of the saddle, and is a movement familiar to me from Pilates.

Next, at the walk, she had me walk with my arms out to the side, which, fine, but THEN she had me also take my legs off of the saddle so that the only points of contact were my pubic bone and my two seatbones. This was fascinating: just when I thought I'd discovered all of the muscles that my brain had previously shut off the neural pathways to, this exercise helped me discover these seemingly teeny tiny muscles in my bikini line I'd never noticed before.

Mary immediately commented how much better my hips were following the movement when I took my legs off.

Those muscles felt exhausted within moments of picking my legs off of the saddle. I envisioned them at the time as short tabs coming off of my legs and attaching to the body about an inch onto my torso, like a Velcro tab. Looking at anatomy charts, I think what I was feeling was the Pectineus, a muscle involved in, go figure, hip stabilization.

At this point, I got off for a bit so Aeres could get some energy out on the lunge before we continued. She wasn't bad, but she clearly hates people being unbalanced on her, so this was not a friendly exercise to her brain. Even after lunging we mostly stuck to the walk to be fair to her, although I'm looking forward to repeating all of this on Connor, who, for better and very much for worse, DGAF if you bounce around on his back.

Aeres to Jen: "I literally hate this, you sack of potatoes"

When I got back on, Mary handed me the Equicube and told me to hold it over my head. Just doing this gave me a lot of awareness of my scapula and lats, as well as my core muscles starting way up under my boobs all the way down to my belly button.

And then that escalated to holding it over my head with my legs off the horse again.


Developing awareness is one thing, but I really need the high tone, blown-out-balloon feeling in my midsection to become a default if I have a hope of riding Connor as effectively as CGP does. I'm looking forward to playing with these exercises on Connor over the winter and exploring them more in Pilates too.


  1. Ooohhhh I love this! Aeres is also a saint.

  2. I WANT this lesson! Also, Aeres is hilarious in her disapproval.

  3. I immediately want to try these myself, but need to find a lunge buddy first!

  4. You know I was mentally wondering if you still had or used the equi-cute. Sounds like a super informative lesson. When can I borrow her? lol