So I lost my sitting trot. I lost it honestly, by, as my niece would say, “being chucked from a horse” when he rapidly decelerated in front of a jump. I injured my sacroilliac joint which, frankly, is literally a pain in the a$$. Until you injure your SI joint, you won’t fully appreciate its role in your happiness and comfort. A pair of happy SI joints makes for a happy girl, ok, that’s just me lately, but I’m just sayin’, be happy if yours work right.
Now that I am mostly recovered, thanks to rest, chiropractic and a very understanding massage therapist, I am back in the saddle.
The difficulty in riding again when I was first back in the saddle was what you would expect – a very strong feeling that I did not want to be jostled or fall off. But that passed in time and then I started getting back to the more technical challenges of riding. The most distressing thing was that I’d lost my sitting trot. Rats. Sitting trot is one of my favorite things about riding. Oh, wait, everything is my favorite thing about riding. Well, you get the idea. Sitting trot was easy and fun. The first part of the video below is a good example of fun in sitting trot with Eddie the Wonderful.
Let it be noted here that I am a bit of a details person about my riding technique. The more I learn about what works and what doesn’t, the more I realize that riding is a game of centimeters, not even inches. Probably, for those folks who ride at a very high level, it is a game of millimeters. The angle of the thigh, the use of the abdomen, everything, all very precise without tightness. The difference between what a horse responds to and what he interprets as physical chatter is very subtle indeed.
So, when I say I lost my sitting trot this means that it simply wasn’t as connected as it was before. There wasn’t flopping about or major tension, but the connection I had with my seat before the SI injury was far superior to what I was producing after the injury.
I decided not to get emotional about it (because I sure was tempted to go down that path. You know the one, the hairy gnome in your brain says things like, “Oh, you’re just getting older and it may not come back” and icky things like that) and just go the scientific exploration route. Dr. Spock goes riding. So I started to explore what I was doing differently to make the seatbone connection be intermittent rather than full-time. The first thing that caught my attention was that my legs were not as long, I was pulling up from my hips a bit. Focusing on stretching through my leg was helpful, but even after a day or two of attention to that, it was clear that was not the entire answer.
So I took some more time to really notice what my body was doing that might be getting in the way of real seat connection. Not surprisingly, I was holding in my lower back. Duh, I know, I should have figured that out right away, but I was a little too close to the problem to see it. Since the SI joint hurt so much less, I hadn’t really entertained the thought that it still hurt some and I was protecting it.
When I asked my kind horses to slow down their trots until I could learn to relax and follow again, things became easier. I did a lot of short periods of sitting trot, interspersed with walk and canter breaks, including 2 point in all gaits. I was as kind to my body as I would be to a horse I was rehabilitating. Lots of breaks, exercising only to slight fatigue of the injured area and taking every other or third day off. And whaddya know, it works. Tonight I trotted around on the wonder warmblood in all his fabulousness in lengthening and we were connected again. It just fell into my lap.
And once again I realized that when I pay attention to the details and get them right, big good things come in their natural course.