Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

21 January,2018

Don’t Get Fit, Get Even by Laura Szuca

Having recently had a back operation I am currently spending a lot of my time not only getting some level of general fitness back, but trying to improve my core strength and suppleness – not only to keep pain levels down but I figure a better core, won’t harm the riding either!  One thing that has become more apparent than ever is how wonky I am.  I mean, I’m a leftie, I write with my left hand, I can bend more to the left, am more supple to the left, it’s harder to bend right, and I am much stiffer to the right, things are just harder for me on the right side of my body, always have been, but it gets you thinking what does this mean for us as horse riders?  If I am so much more dominant on one side, is it any wonder my horse suffers from being a wonky donkey too?!  

Picture the scene, I am mucking out, a normal every day exercise you might say, I pick up the fork, again nothing new there, we do that every single day as horse owners, but what strikes me is without even thinking about it I promptly start to muck out in my “left handed” way – the same as I do every time I muck out. But, here’s the thing, the lightbulb moment – I find my horse harder to ride on the right rein.  Bingo.  There it is.  We spend so much time training our horses to be straight, to get that perfect centre line, the correct bend, and always find one rein harder than the other, don’t we?  We can be quick to say, “oh he finds it harder on the right rein” – well that might be true, but why, why does he find is harder on the right rein, I think it could be as simple as because WE are wonky, we have made our horses wonky. From mucking out, to picking things up, moving water buckets around the yard and even making up feeds, we all have a “side” we find easier.  And as a consequence, when we are riding we normally have a rein we find easier, which typically means the horse finds it easier.   

We spend so much time trying to “fix” our horses, maybe we need to fix ourselves?  Even ourselves up a bit so to speak, so we can do the same on one side as we can the other, with the same ease.  I have been trying to do this over the last few weeks, and I can tell you it’s hard!  Switching the “side” I muck out on, made me out of breath, and took twice as long as it normally would and the truth be told I couldn’t muck the whole stable out like it, I did a few forks and then switched over to my strong side, as for using a broom using my other “side”, well, I felt like I had never used a broom before!  The simple task of using my right hand to make feeds up each day was also hard and resulted on a couple of occasions me missing the bucket entirely, but I figure a little each day, and it might just MIGHT become easier!  And that right rein might also get just that little bit better.  

So rather than making your New Year’s Resolution to get fit, why not make it to GET EVEN?!

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  1. Penny Hawes says:

    This is so true! I’m a leftie as well, but only for fine motor skills stuff like writing and eating ice cream… (did I just say that out loud?) For mucking, the right hand is the one that did the heavy lifting… literally!

    My right shoulder is noticeably more developed from decades of mucking, and last year I had surgery to remove 3 big bone spurs from my right shoulder.

    I notice this in my students most in their shoulders. I thell them, “Your horse’s body mimics what you do with your body”. Most of them aren’t aware that their right (or left) shoulder is a megalomaniac and wants to rule the world. It’s so entrenched in their muscle memory that they have a really hard time turning their shoulders in the direction they want their horse’s shoulder to turn. Once the get that bit sorted, it’s amazing how much more easily their horses can bend!

  2. Laura Szuca says:

    It is so apparent isn’t it? I’ve been working super hard to even up! Thanks for reading 😊

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