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[RC] Calves & lessons - rides2far

OK I've gotten 3 private posts already so I need to put out a public
disclaimer here. *I* want lessons too! I am *not* a person who would be
much help trying to give someone else lessons. :-P   I think I have
learned some coping mechanisms since I don't get very sore any more, but
if I had the cash I'd take lessons. As it is, all I can do is read, watch
& listen...and pay for the daughter to have lessons and ask her to pass
the knowledge on.  

The main thing I see people do that means their tack is wrong is stand
and lean forward to get over their feet which the saddle puts too far in
front of them. That kills your lower back after lots of miles. You've
gotta be able to get your feet back under you, not sitting like you're in
a chair. If you're pumping to post, or holding on to the front of the
saddle to post, that's a bad sign.  Still some of us have to adapt what's
"correct" to "what works around our body parts that have quit functioning
well". As my knees have gone I've had to ride differently. In some ways I
think it's good since I've had to try harder to be effortless instead of
trying to depend on strength and endurance to keep going. Josie says that
when she quits riding *right* is when she gets shin splints. 

I spend a ton of time just taking inventory..."Am I breathing?...Are my
ankles loose? Knees loose and absorbing shock? Hips loose? Am I posting
forward instead of up? Are my feet pulled back under me or rammed out in
front like I'm water skiiing? Do I let the shock go up and out my
shoulders when I touch down? Can I feel both seat bones equally? Am
arching my body to the right or left (I think I close to the left). Are
my shoulders square or is one forward (hold my reins in 2 hands). When I
get to the end of that checklist I just change diagonals and start at the
ankles again.  If I ever get in *total* harmony, where it's just
effortless and every muscle in my body feels relaxed, *that's* when a
deer jumps out from under his nose and I get whiplash. :-P I wish I could
recruit a dressage instructor who would just correct me as we ride down
the trail. Surely if she saw me doing something wrong she wouldn't be
able to stand not saying anything!

On the calves...well I figure it's from the position of heels lower (or
level with) toes, hanging off the stirrup, bearing a little weight as you
come down (not pushing as you go up), over and over and over. The ropey
bulging veins (according to a  weight lifter student) from your body
delivering more oxygen to muscles you use a whole lot. These aren't
vericose veins (though I have a few of those too) I have to tip toe or
something before I can impress somebody (but pointing my toe to shave my
legs definitely makes me need an all terrain razor). Anyway, there's
*lots* of riders who have scarey muscles in their calves just standing
around. I just consider that the most obvious muscle that distance riding
builds up. I've also got some less than feminine forearms but that's from
holding a puller back. If I was a better trainer I wouldn't have that
trait.  I had a friend who did competitive trail who spent a lot of time
standing in the stirrups and her doctor commented that she had the most
developed muscle down the front of her shin he'd ever seen. Probably what
you develop depends on how you ride.

P.S. I am a *foundation* Quarter Horse build. Maybe you're an
"Arab"...strong but don't bulk up if you're not getting bunchy calves.

P.S.S. If some riding professional like Kat wants to start an "equitation
tip of the day" I'll sure read it!



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