Old Problem, New Lesson

An equitation problem that I thought I had solved a decade ago has come back to bite me again, the dreaded breaking-over-the-hip, which is a variation of the dreaded sitting-too-far-to-the-side.? Most of us have this problem to one degree or another, either right or left, although we usually aren?t aware of it until we start working on something new with our horse, or get a new instructor, or maybe a show judge points it out. Through my first 10 years of riding, I didn’t realize I broke over my right hip and sat to the left.? I was showing hunters, then eventing.? When I started concentrating on dressage, my instructors brought it up all the time but never really addressed how to solve the problem.? When I got married, my husband used to come to shows, and he?d always comment on my right hip, more than 20 years of ?You?re breaking over your right hip.?? ?Yeah,? I’d mutter under my breath, ?tell me something I don’t know.?? Again, I never really solved it. In the new millennium, the problem seemed to go away as I paid more and more attention to my equitation, since I have a VERY young trainer Jessie, who isn?t afraid to comment on my position issues, even when sHe’s sympathetic to my 64-year-old back or when I need some time to get limber again after I’ve been on the road for a week.? Now we’re working on passage, piaffe and one-tempis with my mare Windy and, as Jessie points out, those movements are about muscle memory.? You don’t have time to make small adjustments.? I can do two-tempis and pirouettes all day, but the one-tempis haven’t been coming for me although they’re fine for Jess, and Windy?s rear end will slip to the side during a lot of stuff we’re doing, especially passage.? Jess is huge on straightness, so she has us doing a lot of specific exercises, including doing two-tempis on a circle and? the dreaded counter-canter renvers I described recently. Then, this week we had a light-bulb moment ? at least it seems that way, and time will tell as it does in everything that has to do with dressage.? Jess mentioned that Windy and I had a sort of co-dependent problem (my own term), where Windy will shove up against my right side while at the same time I drop away from my right hip.? Huh, I thought.? The next day, I concentrated on keeping an equal feel on both hip points ? the minor miracle was that Jess didn’t once have to tell me to get my shoulders back, so sitting more squarely though my waist automatically affected my posture overall.? Then the one-one exercise that is the start of one-tempis started coming more easily.? Too early to tell is this will be a breakthrough, but I’m optimistic. All of this is really the same old right hip problem.? A couple decades ago, I used to go through an entire Prix St. Georges test using the mantra ?both bums to the right? every three strides.? I never felt completely comfortable in the correct spot and would have to constantly remind myself because getting my seat there always clearly helped my horse (Poor Junior!).? I thought I’d finally fixed the problem, because my saddle stayed level for the saddle fitter, Windy?s chiro vet felt she was fine, and no one (especially my husband!) was bringing it up.? But, there were other signs I just didn’t realize, like my tendency to over-use my right rein. Oh well, dressage makes us hyper-aware of this stuff and how often we have to keep re-learning it. ?If fixing my right hip also ultimately fixes my one-tempis, well it will seem like a minor miracle.

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