Hello and welcome to the first weekend riding challenge as part of the WARider November Lockdown Challenge. The 10/10/10 Riding Challenge is relatively simple, until you try it for the first time that is! It will act as a simple trotting exercise to ease you into the WAR Challenges to come. It’ll test your co-ordination, balance, adjustability and core strength – things that might be needed down the road!
What it involves is sitting, standing in a 2-point position and rising in trot for 10 strides consecutively – easy right?
It’s actually harder than it sounds. The idea is that you challenge yourself to really think about where you are in the saddle and how your position, balance and co-ordination affect your horse’s way of going. I believe that 90% of riding issues are actually rider issues (think I’d have to do a scientific study for the correct figures – but I sure the majority of you would agree with me to some extent!). This is a really good exercise to identify your strengths and weaknesses in the saddle.
The exercise can be done anywhere – in the arena, out hacking, on a circle, in a straight line or if you really want to mix it up, you can add in a trotting pole or two, depending on how difficult you are finding it. Play with it!
I’m gonna break the exercise down into two parts – firstly I’ll explain what to do, and secondly, I’ll run through some of the common mistakes and things you might encounter and why they are happening.
How to do the exercise
Once you have warmed your horse up you can start to introduce the exercise. The aim is to hold each position for 10 strides before transitioning to the next one. You’ll also need to the maintain a rhythm and aim not to interfere with your horses way of going. You’ll need to be able to co-ordinate your transitions smoothly, maintaining the rhythm, without your horses rushing or backing off.
I recommend that you start the exercise in the following pattern to get a feel for how your balance and co-ordination takes to changing from the comfort zone (rising trot) to a different position. So to start, try transitioning to the different positions in this pattern:
- Rising – Standing – Rising – Sitting – Rising – Standing – Rising – Sitting
Once you’re comfortable with that pattern, now try the following:
2. Rising – Sitting – Standing – Rising – Sitting – Standing.. and so on.
You can play with the pattern, there are no rules, sometimes going from standing to sitting can be a challenge without landing like a sack of spuds on your horse’s back!
What Might Happen?
Falling forward or losing Balance in the 2 Point Position (Jumping Position)
If you find you are falling forward or losing your balance in the 2 point position your shoulders may be too far forward, or you may be balancing on your hands.
If you feel like you are falling forward, check that your shoulders are not too far forward. When in a secure jumping position, the angles of the hip, knee and heel close, but often riders hinge forward, bringing their shoulders too far forward in the saddle. Think that your hips are moving towards the back of the saddle and your joints are hinged, rather than hinging your body forward.
If you feel like you are leaning or relying on the rein or the horses neck for stability, try bringing your hands down the neck, rather than up the neck. Play with the position until you find your secure centre of balance.
My horse rushes when I’m in a light seat
Shorten your reins! And bring your weight back towards your hips – see the above points! If you’re too far forward, your weight is shifting onto the horses forehand. Bring your weight back a little and see if that makes a difference.
My Horse goes back to walk when I’m in sitting trot
Again, check that you’re not balancing on the rein. Secondly – Keep your leg on! I find focusing on a down breath as I’m making any transition helps as well, as it releases any tension or anticipation in the body before the movement (that goes for normal transitions too).
Also, make sure that you are not hallowing through your belly/core. I call this “sack of spuds” position! As you may be coming back into the sitting position too “heavily.” Any weakness in the core is also going to add a “wobble” to your position. Finally – remember leg on!
Also, a slower trot is more comfortable to sit to, but try to focus on the rhythm and the smoothness of transitioning into each position.
I bounce too much in sitting trot!
Again – remember to breath! Imagine all your weight sinking through your body, through your lower back, seat and into your heels. Try imagining that you are pushing the saddle forward towards the horse’s withers with your hips.
Remember, practice makes perfect and if you’re encountering any of the issues above take it as something that you have to work on yourself.
So now – let me know how you get on!
Due to the disappearance of a certain selfie stick/ tripod I wasn’t able to record myself doing the exercise, sounds like a total cop out! I hope to at some point over the weekend and will update this post as soon as I have some footage. But until then, I’m looking forward to hearing about and seeing your attempts. Make sure to tag me or leave a comment below and let me know how you get on or have any adjustments or tips you would make!
And finally, if you have any specific questions please send them on! Good luck!