October 12, 2022

Me and My Biomechanics Changes

Back in late August, Kate stayed overnight with me when she was in town for a wedding, and ended up giving me the most incredible gift: figuring out how I've been blocking him.

She watched me set off from the mounting block at a walk, and almost immediately said "Your right hip isn't moving." She had me stop, take my foot out of the stirrup, and told me to "drop" my right hip, straight down. "That actually hurts, I said, "But not a pain hurt. Like I can feel it pulling in a way that tells me I haven't stretched that part of my body in a very long time."

When I set off at the walk again, with Kate walking next to us saying "drop, drop" every time my right hip should have been traveling downward to match the left, it felt like a tsunami of information I'd gotten from so many other people crystallized in that moment. The PT telling me my hips didn't "sway" enough when I walked, and that my right hip was stuck up and forward. CGP and I figuring out that if I thought about putting my right side "forward", Connor suddenly went better. Why the left SI was impossible for me to ride but easy for CGP. Celeste telling me I needed to give him space for his body on the right side, especially on the left rein, and that it would surprise him if I did, because I hadn't been. Even problems I'd been having while running and doing CrossFit suddenly made total sense.

I ran a 5k without pain - my first time running more than two miles in ten years! - as a result of Kate's discovery. It was far from my college PRs, but I ran just over 23:00 to win an age group that had over 60 runners in it. And had NO KNEE OR HIP PAIN during or after, which has not been normal for me for a long time.

That right hip was frozen, in a chicken-or-egg situation with my disused right oblique, and all these years, I haven't been moving with him or allowing the energy to flow on that side. Even now, six weeks later, I can feel it plain as day when I go back to the old way I used to sit on him, and I want to apologize to him for asking him to do so much when I was only 50% there. It feels like the difference between walking with him/sitting on him, and walking against him/sitting above him.

It's certainly possible to get too wrapped around the axle on biomechanics, but in this case, it was appropriate to do so. It has changed everything, including Connor. Where he used to be hollow and curved on his right side, if I just remind myself to walk with him when I feel that, he suddenly fills that side out and becomes straight - no messing with the reins required. 

It's a far cry from schooling Third, but it's a relaxed horse with an open throatlatch moving freely under a rider that is not a burden, and that's the goal right now.

Likewise, if I feel myself getting against him in the reins, I often find I've forgotten to walk with him in that moment, and when I do, he drops his head, licks and chews the bit, and relaxes. And in return, the work is coming so much easier to him - it's amazing how much easier ToH and SI and all that becomes when you're moving with the horse.

Since Kate came, he has even started standing with equal weight over both forefeet in the crossties recently, for the first time I can ever remember. Like, seriously?!

Making my rides as pretty as possible has also helped motivate me to get back into the saddle

This is the other reason I'm not taking lessons right now - this has to become my default way of going before I layer anything else on top of it. Just like Connor not using his underneck for balance has to become his default way of going before we layer anything else on top of that.

So, as always, we are taking the slow bus to progress, but we are enjoying the journey while we do it 💗


  1. As a long time follower this is kind of amazing. I really like your plan to make this way of moving your baseline before moving on to harder things. C looks fabulous in those under saddle shots. So soft and correct.

  2. Sounds like you guys are really making some great progress!! He looks so soft and relaxed.

  3. Such an exciting breakthrough! I don't know about you, but I get really frustrated when my body isn't doing what it's supposed to. Even more so when I can't figure out what's not right. Glad you had this epiphany!