Sunday, 28 October 2012

Anyone Have A Steam Roller To Lend Me?

Hattie and I FINALLY made our first competing debut in our off-side side saddle today and it was brilliant!

I decided to enter in the Intro A class (walk/trot) as we are still working on our canters and cantering 20 meter circles in this saddle and just wanted something non-stressful to try this saddle in a competitive situation in.

There were 10 riders in this class, some were riders new to dressage and others were Prelim riders using it as a warm up for their horses so a good competitive mix really and we ended up coming 5th with 61.74%!

Our comments have improved from the last time we did this test and my figures were more accurate, we also got more 6's and 7's than 5's so that was good too! Hattie still got her "trademark" lacking in purpose comment too, lol, this time when we were trotting the 20 meter circle at E.

Murphy's Law, however, dictated that not all would go smoothly today as as soon as the judge rang the bell for us to start, my safety iron decided to unhinge itself and did not have time to make it right so decided to just do it stirrupless. Don't think we did too badly??

All in all I am VERY please how Hattie went today in this saddle and think we will go back up to doing the Prelim tests at the next show.

HOWEVER, I did notice something today with myself that my off-side side saddle has brought to my attention that I hasn't always been immediately obvious when riding astride or in my nearside side saddle, but that has always been lurking in the shadows since I was a crooked spine aka scoliosis.

I've always had problems with my back and hip ever since I was a teenager and although I had been to doctor's about it, none of them actually did anything about it preferring to blame it on riding and that my back aches were caused by my weight and that I would "grow out of it". Even my gym teacher noticed my wonky back and showed the class it so why on earth the doctor's did nothing is beyond me.

You probably noticed it in the video, right hip higher than the other, the right shoulder lower than the other even though I was sitting perfectly square, my left shoulder back and my back was straight.This has always caused me grief in an astride saddle as I always collapse down to the right and then lose my right stirrup and have to hoik it up a hole or two higher than my left one. Riding bareback and stirrupless helps me overcome this astride. Riding in my nearside Whippy, the same thing sort of happens but it's not that noticeable except for the dropped right shoulder since a nearside saddle kind of covers up and compensates for this fault.

When hacking out yesterday, Julia shouted to me that I was "wonky" but I had no idea that I was because I felt comfortable and central. You can see in the photo that she took of me yesterday, that even though I'm square in the saddle and my left shoulder is back, I'm wonky on the right side like a "C" shape! How strange that someone can be straight and wonky at the same time!!

When analysing my video today, it got me wondering why my "spinal imperfection" is so blatant in my off-sider and then I looked down at my lap and saw this...

This is how I sit and have always sat for as long as I can remember, my left leg hooked under my right thigh so that my right hip is propped up so that it has no pressure on it and all the weight is on my left hip (the non hurty side). Even when I get into the bath, this is what my legs do. Because of the slight curve in my spine, this is a natural comfortable position for me to assume. I can't do it the other way round, it's too uncomfortable. I guess this is why I find off-siding so comfortable as it's basically how I sit at home and have sat for most of my 37 years!! In fact, I'm sitting like it now as I type this!!!

When I sleep, I prefer laying on my left side as my right side feels like it's being pulled apart too much and is uncomfortable. 

Then it got me to thinking, what is these comfy sitting and sleeping positions doing to my back and side muscles so I did some stretches (side to side, etc) and I'm definitely looser on my left side than on my right which would correspond to how lay down and how I sit on chairs and on my off-side saddle. The muscles on my right side, because of the curve of my spine, are shorter and more tenser which pulls me down on the right side, hence the lower right shoulder and the higher right hip- they being pulled  towards each other!!!

It explains why my heavily boned Victorian corsets that I used to wear for Victorian re-enactments, always wore out first on the right side and why the bones ended up being bent severely inwards on that side as well, LOL!

So now with this "light bulb moment" and barring being run over with a steam roller to straighten me out, I'm going to have to take drastic action to "uncrooked" me as best as I can for riding on the off-side as Hattie and my poorly hip enjoy riding on that side the best. I already do the back exercises the physiotherapist gave me for my hip and lower back but am going to have to look into which exercises are best for stretching out the side muscles on your back and do these everyday before riding to even myself up!

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