HorseAddict: Covid Muscle Memory Loss

Sun, 05/31/2020 - 20:33
Training Your Horse
Photo © Anne Leueen

I started back a week ago after two months off from riding. At the age of 70 that isn’t an inconsequential amount of time. I’ve been keeping fit with Eldergym online classes and brisk one hour walks with my husband and our little dog every afternoon. So how did it go this week? My endurance fitness is good and I didn’t have any body parts that complained. But there was one crucial thing missing. I had lost part of my seat.

If you are not a rider you may be wondering what I am talking about but for riders the seat important. For dressage riders it is essential that you ride with an independent seat.This means you are not using your hands on the reins to balance or gripping with your thighs to stay on the horse.

Wednesday I was doing some work, to prepare for my Friday lesson, and did a medium trot across the diagonal. Biasini has been well tuned up by my coach Belinda Trussell, as soon as I asked for that medium trot he responded with a nice elevated trot. “This is nice,” I thought. Then after I had passed X in the center of the arena things fell apart. “Good Lord! I’m bouncing! Bouncing!” I realized that I had lost the open hips needed to be able to move with Biasini in his bigger trot. He does have a lovely big trot but it is not hard to sit to. It was not his fault I was bouncing. I knew exactly what I would have to do to get my hips looser and more open.

Riding without stirrups. I think I knew that even before I got back to riding. It was inevitable really.

At the start of my Friday lesson I told Belinda I needed to do some no stirrups work. I did specify that about five minutes would be good. Once we were warmed up we started no stirrups at sitting trot. Mercifully Belinda did not make me do it for too long. It felt like half an hour but it was probably only 7 minutes.

I took my stirrups back and we worked on reviewing basics. At the end of the lesson Belinda told me I had not lost ground during my Covid time off. I was picking up right where I had left off. That made me feel that the Eldergym and the walking had helped. The only thing my body had forgotten was how to keep my seat with flexibility.

I shall be doing no stirrups work every ride from now on.

- by Anne Leueen

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