A Swiftly Tilting Pelvis

In my quest for mastery of biomechanics (how the horse moves, how the human moves, how human/horse effect one another), I realize that I have to address my anterior pelvic tilt, affectionately referred to by riders ’round the world as “duck butt”.  🙂  If you need an example of duck butt….duck butt

Basically, it’s when your pelvis tilts forward and your abs are not strong enough to hold the pelvis level so your spine hollows and your butt sticks out.  I don’t just reserve this amazingness for riding, I do it in everyday walking.  If I need to get somewhere in a hurry, I tip my pelvis and lean slightly forward and overuse my knees.  With considerable effort, I can level my pelvis, and move out from my hips to cover ground instead but the trick is remembering to do it in the first place.  More duck butt….why not with so many shining examples?

duck butt 2

I’ve heard this vicious rumor for years now that it’s important to ride with a neutral spine for several reasons.  A. Duck butt blocks a horse’s forward energy.  B. A rider isn’t physically able to really absorb the horse’s forward motion without good core muscles.  Good core muscles won’t develop with an anterior tilt.  C. The rider’s seat bones pressing toward the horse’s hind legs also make them strung out behind.

Today was my first attempt at neutral spine riding. There is an unspoken rule in the Callis house.  If you’re going to try something new, try it on Skip.  He’s the most tolerant.  After I fumbled around at trot with my newly found lack of balance, I tried cantering without fork seat.  It went something like this.  But first….more duck butt….

duckbutt 3

So it went like this:

Me : Canter!  Skip: Uh….I don’t think you really mean that.  Me:  Yes, I do!  Canter!  Skip: Hhhhmmmmm, if you say so.  Me: *flailing completely behind the motion trying to sit on my seat bones and stay vertical at the same time*  Skip: Trotting!  Me: No, Canter!  Skip: Sorry, I thought you were falling…trotting!   Me: I’m going to fall if you keep breaking gait, NOW CANTER!  Skip: Jesus, lady…what are you doing up there?!

08 Aug 1939 --- Miss Vivian Machin Goodall rides in reverse as her horse jumps a fence. | Location: Great Henry, Sudbury, Suffolk, England, UK.  --- Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

08 Aug 1939 — Miss Vivian Machin Goodall rides in reverse as her horse jumps a fence. | Location: Great Henry, Sudbury, Suffolk, England, UK. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

And when that got old, which was pretty damn quick…I tried it on Scamps!  Scamps is much easier to ride in neutral spine, probably because I don’t have to drive him every step forward, he’s looking for an excuse to go faster anyway.  I started to feel him rounding better than usual under neutral spine.   Time for another visual aid.  Duck butt is harder to see with show jackets on.  🙂

duckbutt 4

Bottom line?  This is going to take a long time and lots of effort.  Relearning how to do something that is such an ingrained habit is always a challenge.  But I’m always up for a challenge because I ain’t no hollow back girl. (pun intended) And one more for the road….duckbutt 6

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