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Try to pinpoint where the tension in your upper body is coming from— neck, shoulders, back, etc. Then you can tailor some exercises to your “problem areas” (if you know, feel free to message me again). But overall, in order to have a relaxed upper body you need to have a flexible ankle and be weighted in your seat bones. Don’t clamp with your thighs, and don’t jam any part of your body into place. You want to feel like a jellyfish, soft and spongey, and rely on your lower leg to balance you. Of course, this doesn’t mean sit like a sack of potatoes— still keep your core engaged for this reason, any exercises out of the saddle that target your core will be helpful), and think “tall and open”. Open up your chest by rolling your shoulders back, and your posture will be fine. Sometimes it’s easier to get the “feel” first, i.e. work on being soft and relaxed, and then once you have that you can tweak your posture. Remember to keep your hips open so you’re moving with the horse’s bounce, this will stop your upper body from being too stiff (exaggerate the motion at first if you have to, play around with bouncing on your outside or inside seat bone, etc). Try doing some stretches before you get on to loosen up your neck and shoulders, and when you ride if you find you carry tension in those areas try doing some one-armed riding exercises. Good luck! :)
Followers, any advice for this anon? :)
woooow my inbox blew up haha, I have a ton of questions to get to! Unfortunately I’m kind of crunched for time this week (PSAT prep/HQC prep/riding/regular school/life haha) so I’ll get to as many as I can but it might take a tiny bit longer than usual :( sorry, thanks for being patient!
What’s your budget like? Assuming you want to stick to economical prices, check out Pessoa, Collegiate, Bates, Ovation, Thornhill, Crosby, and M. Toulouse. I’d also really recommend you check out used/consignment saddles, you can find great saddles for lower prices.
Depends— you have to consider where you’d be happiest, what your goals are, what the quality is like at both places, how much price/distance matters to you, etc.
I’ve witnessed, fortunately I’ve never been in a very bad one myself!
Try working on strengthening your core and back muscles, so that your balance improves along with it and you can have control over your body placement. I have some exercises that I like that you can message me for, or you can just google some. Yoga is great as well, as it focuses on your core and balance. And going to a chiropractor might be helpful as well, just to realign you to help with any crookedness.
When you ride, try only dropping one stirrup. Drop each stirrup separately in both directions, just to keep things even. Though since you know you’re right-side dominated, you might find it especially helpful to drop your right stirrup, so that you’re not so heavy on that side and can work on evening out your balance. Also, focus on keeping your shoulders even and open, rather than curling up or slanting to one side. Rather than thinking about leaning into one stirrup or the other, think about shifting your weight to your left seat bone— this will help straighten you out in a more effective manner. Good luck! :)
Try dropping your stirrups for a portion of your warmup— it automatically hangs your leg in the correct position and forces you to use your thigh and calf rather than having you rely on pinching with your knee. Even with stirrups, every lap around the arena think “long”. Stretch through your calf so the weight is in your heel- use your heels to anchor your leg in place. Grip the saddle with your calves, as if there was a $100 bill between your lower leg and the horse’s side that you couldn’t afford to lose. Take care also that you’re not leaning too far forwards, causing you to lose leg contact and grip with your knee more…stay centered over the saddle. Going around the ring a few times in two-point position also helps elongate your leg and give you a feel for how deep in your heel you should stretch. Good luck! :)