Don’t worry I had never really lost my tailbone. It has been with me since birth situated right where it should be at the base of my spine. But until this past week it has been an appendage without use. But no more. Now my tailbone is an integral part of my riding and here is how it has been brought into service in this weeks: Training Tip from Lou Denizard.
Sitting on a saddle my seat bones are what I feel in contact with the saddle. That’s normal. But in my recent lessons, with my Florida coach Lou Denizard, he has been asking me to get more bend from Biasini on the 20 meter circles. My response to this is to use the inside rein and too much inside leg. Here is a visual of that.
On the left is me using my left hand to create more bend (you can see the left hand is father back than the right hand. )and using too much left leg to try to create bend in his body. . None of that really works. My left leg tightens above and behind my hip stopping me from moving with the horse; the horse tightens through the back (shaded muscles) and in fact becomes flatter instead of bending. But…if I sit level, as on the right, keep my hands level and use the outside rein to keep the shoulder out on the circle, legs relaxed and able to give aids on either side as necessary ….then you have bend and the horse stretches the muscles of his back, neck and hindquarters on the outside of the circle. Where does the tailbone come into this?
This is a photo of Elvis, the skeleton, that I took at the physio department of the gym I go to. Elvis is a bit ‘out ‘ in his hips but the spine and tailbone are straight. So when I sit on the horse instead of pushing down with one seat bone or the other, which happens if I twist or try too hard to create that bend with my inside leg, Lou asks me to think of my tailbone. If you can imagine someone turning Elvis’ hips you could see that his tailbone would remain in the same place. That is how I have to think of my tail bone. That is how I can remain straight. Look at this rider in the photo below. Her tailbone is about where the name plate is on the back of the saddle. Her spine rises , straight, above that tailbone. She is looking to the left and her horse’s ear is just seen above her left thigh which indicates her horse is on a left bending line.
So….if I keep my mind on my tailbone I automatically straighten in my spine and any turning in my shoulders or hips is a rotation from that straight spine. My weight remains even, my hands and arms can be independent of my seat, my lower legs can be on the horse’s sides giving any aids required. I was shocked to feel how much of a difference it made.
It is something so simple but when I remember it, or when I am reminded by Lou, it makes a world of difference to my riding and most importantly to how Biasini is bending on the circle.
It’s all just about the basics really, no matter what level you ride at, it is all about the basics.
*rider photo and drawing from Classical Riding Reflection’s post on Facebook*