Sunday, December 1, 2019

Work it like a Kardashian

I had quite the epiphany today. Not one I'm particularly happy about, but I found a hole in my riding that I've been digging for years. Many of you will recollect how much I love finding holes and filling them.

I posted a video of a cutting practice as part of my last post. I hadn't watched it in a long while. Madonna was pretty nice, but she kept arcing her body to the right and swinging her head to the left.
She appears to have a case of the looky-loos, or a reluctance to work, but that wasn't the situation. Take another look at the video and see if you can spot it.

I know this because those poked out ribs and head to the side has been an issue in every aspect of our rides.

Her spins to the left are perfection, I step her forward, release my left leg and she flies. To the right, we have issues. When I set her up, I get a head toss and a tail swat, she's locked up enough that one step forward doesn't cut it. I have to push her ribs over, hold them while I step her forward, gather her into the bridle to keep her head straight, and finally spin. It works, but is definitely not as pretty and free.

During her slide stops, if she's on her right lead and I drive her forward with my legs and keep her shoulders straight, she'll pile drive into a consistent and pretty stop. On her left lead, I'm dealing with her rib collapsing under my leg and usually end up with her hind end drifting to the right through her stop.

Lead changes, like a dream to the left, huge effort on her part to get a clean change to the right.

And so on. It affects how she negotiates a steep hill, up and down, and how she travels across a field. When she spooks to the left, it's a spin, stop and look. To the right, it's a bolt, straighten, then spin and look.

Without me on her back, she is dead level.

I know I sit crooked, without equal contact of my seat bones. I was of the opinion the issue was fixed. If you look at this video, I look fairly straight. The problem is, it turns out to be only an impression of straightness, I'm holding my right side completely rigid and my left is collapsed just like my horse. My shoulder is higher on the left, telling me my hips must be crooked too.

After many rewinds I think I sorted it out. My solution has been to focus on contact with my seat bones. Well, guess what? When I make equal contact it creates the entire clusterfuck. In order to plant that left seat bone I'm collapsing my ribcage on the left, becoming rigid on the right and constantly blocking my horse from bending  to the right.

All of this is from the damn Parkinson's. The disease is all about locking up. Some muscles quit on me, not necessarily in a dramatic way, but just quit doing their job. Others step in and compensate. My left cheek has lost tone and is smaller than my right. I don't believe I'm saying this, but half my butt needs to be bigger to get my balance back.

My answer? I'm going to try to focus on building butt muscle through exercise. I'm thankful for the Kardashians and their obsession with glutes, it gave me access to all kinds of giant butt exercises. I'll work both sides, and add half again to the left. Here's the best I found for my current situation - I found them in Cosmo of all places.

Old age brings problems with strength, flexibility and tone. Having Parkinson's is a fun addition to the challenges already faced as I age in order to continue to ride. I can't stress enough the importance of looking outside our usual solutions.

Again, I was able to sort this out is because I listened to my horses. It took me forever to figure it out, but if I had taken the easier road, shoved them into the bridle and spurred the crap out of that sneaky ribcage I would have solved nothing except undermine the confidence shared by both my horses and I. The road less travelled gave me my solution.