I have been writing this year about my experience using the Ride Advanced Physio online Pilates program and I was just champing at the bit to get Stephanie or Lucy out to Shiloh for a clinic. It’s finally happened – Lucy came out! We easily filled 10 spots with a large wait-list waiting for the next clinic. So what is this clinic? Here’s the flyer to learn more if you want to have them come to your barn.
I knew a little bit of what to expect having experienced one of Stephanie’s clinics 3 years ago shortly after giving birth and also having used her Pilates program for a year now. Unfortunately…or fortunately perhaps I had just spent an entire month not doing Pilates, riding or much of anything being very sick with several things that happened to be not Covid. What this means is I was extra unbalanced, extra floppy, extra stiff and pretty much everything I struggle with physically was back full force.
I told Lucy that we’d struggled a little with the left lead canter over the last year or so (sometimes he goes lateral) and we’d had trouble with the changes. Lucy was wonderful and friendly and encouraging when people were concerned about their horses’ behavior. She reassured them the clinic was 100% about the rider position and she didn’t care if the horses nose was on the ground or straight up in the air. Jax was…his normal self…a bit lazy…and I rode him as I always do as if no one was watching me for position. I found out in the riding assessment a few things.
– Walk: sitting left, left knee higher, right shoulder collapses
– Trot: both directions, sitting left, right shoulder collapses
– Canter: Right lead, sitting left (mild); left lead, sitting left, stabilizing with left arm
– Half Pass/Leg Yield: To the left, sitting left, collapsing left shoulder, right trunk lean; to the
right, sitting left, right shoulder collapses
– Changes: from right lead to left, difficult to shift weight to the right seat bone.
Did you notice anything there? I’m sitting to the left. Period. And my right shoulder sometimes collapses…and my left one does in one particular movement. So now comes the fun part! Why am I sitting to the left? Off horse assessment time!
During this portion, you get on a massage table and she does a few stretches and alignment tests and asks you to do a few movements to see what is tight or locked up and what needs to be strengthened or stabilized. She released something rather quickly in my left hip (which felt amazing) after noticing some unbalance in my flexibility from one side to the other. She also showed me that my right glute isn’t firing like my left one does and gave me some thoughts on how to wake that up before riding. We discussed my issues rotating left and my thoracic mobility issues and having that likely due to my mild scoliosis (I also wonder now if that contributes to the right shoulder dropping). She gave me a lot of stretches and exercises to do to work on that. She did tell me that I was a hyper-mobile person (which is a good thing) so I needed to mainly continue my focus on being strong and keeping my glutes engaged.
– thoracic rotation limited left
– Limited Hip internal rotation left (mild)
– Decreased thoracic mobility
After the unmounted portion I got back on again and did the new mounted exercises and did some canter (the troublesome canter!). My ability to get my weight right and weight my right seat bone was immediately obvious and significantly easier to do than a half hour prior. Ditto using the bands on my wrists as directed help me engage properly to stabilize my upper torso better. While the changes were still silly, Lucy noted my position in asking for the changes was much improved.
Since the clinic, I’ve done my stretches almost every day. I had to give my thoracic a break after 5 days straight working on them because it losening up was starting to spill over and cause pain in other areas (lower back, neck). A week and a half on, that area is still very tight and jacked up…but it is loosening up a lot and especially after doing my exercises my range of movement improves. I’m looking forward to what another month of those do for me. The left and right hip still feel evened out from the adjustment from Lucy and I’m having a lot easier of a time asking for the changes (and Jax is having a lot easier of a time responding to me asking for changes). I’ve also noticed my seat a lot more in the saddle since because things are unlocked and the habits I was in I am now actively addressing (which makes it feel sometimes like I’ve never ridden before). It’s an interesting process!
What was really cool about doing this clinic again (especially years later and having done the Pilates program for the last year) is that Lucy didn’t mention strength problems being an issue this time (other than needing to wake up my right glute before riding…it’s strong, just not always awake). I am going to place that 100% on doing the Pilates. Before the Pilates I didn’t know what my glute medius was…hell…I heard a number of riders in the clinic go “huh? what’s that?” when Lucy mentioned the important muscle. That made me chuckle because a year ago I had no idea what it was or how to fire it to stabilize myself in the saddle. I’m looking forward to continued adjustments and improvement doing my stretches and exercises and looking forward to the next clinic! Interesting and of major note to myself was that I sat to the left three years ago as well and had a bit of a right shoulder drop at times then too. So some problems stay the same. And sitting here now I turned and squared up to the mirror in my room…and I’m sitting off to the left a touch and my right shoulder is dropped. It feels actually very awkward to have it square so there’s something more to this one! It’s going to be a process just like everything else! Off to do my Pilates!
We’re having Lucy out again in October and then again in December and I’m looking forward to it!