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  • Writer's pictureMarilyn Bassett-Coffey

“Hip Switch” - a Horse and Rider “Lumbar Exercise”

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

This exercise is recommended while mounted but can be adapted for an unmounted exercise.


What you will need:

(Required)

  1. The rider needs to have a understanding of basic pelvic anatomy. Specifically, what and where their “seat bones” are and how they sit in the saddle.

  2. Rider needs to have a competent understanding of the posting (at the walk or trot).

  3. Instructor (eyes in the arena to teach this concept).

  4. A fully tacked horse (Saddle with stirrups, Bridle with reins)

  5. Horse capable of trot (if doing this as a mounted exercise)

*Note on what is required:

  • Horse can/could be on a “lunge line” if instructor so desires (at that point it’s the instructor’s choice if rider uses the reins).

  • If you wish for this to be a “ground exercise” please ensure the rider mounting on a saddle stand or barrel is safe and secure.

(Optional)

  • A “Demo Rider” (To show the exercise as the instructor explains the theory.

  • Mirror (this can be used so the rider can see themselves during the exercise).


Disclaimer:

  • Participant should not feel extreme, sudden, or stabbing pain during this exercise. If they do, stop or decrease difficulty until comfortable.


Warm Up (examples):

Rider:

  • Posting at walk

  • Leg stretches

  • Posting trot lines and or circles

Horse:

  • Walk

  • Trot

  • Bending / stretching work (level appropriate)


How to find the asymmetry (after warming up):

  • Rider should start off with posting at either the walk or trot (level appropriate)

  • Instructor asks rider if they (the rider) notice (when the “sit” part of the “down post)” which of the two seat bones comes to midline of the saddle on the “sit.”

  • Once rider indicates which seat bone comes to midline of the saddle when the “sit,” have them check both ways.

  • See if it’s the same seat bone that comes to midline during the “sit” or is it different.

  • Instructor makes notation of their answers (both ways).

  • Once you know what to look for you can tell if the rider was correct in their assessment of their body habit.


Rider has the RIGHT seat bone on saddle midline.

Correct the asymmetry (example):

Let’s say the rider moves the RIGHT seat bone to midline when they “sit” both ways… (like shown in the photo with rider with green polo shirt) this would make the RIGHT seat bone the “familiar seat bone.”

  1. Ask the rider to move the LEFT seat bone (AKA the “odd seat bone”) to midline of the saddle. (This will feel “odd” and maybe even weird to the rider)

  2. After a few deliberate attempts and bringing the “odd seat bone” to midline ask them (the rider) to switch back to the “familiar (RIGHT) seat bone”

  3. Do this both ways (switching from “familiar seat bone” to “odd seat bone” coming to midline).

  4. After a few back and forth “switches” (AKA “Hip Switch”) ask the rider to perform MORE “odd seat bone” to midline of saddle than they perform the “familiar seat bone” going to midline of saddle. This will break up the rider’s “asymmetry.”


Things to know:

  • ·Often riders might have one seat bone they like to bring to midline but it’s also not uncommon to see riders who just prefer using whatever seat bone is to the inside or outside and thus it changes when they change directions

  • The purpose of this exercise is simply to bring awareness of a possible “habit” or “asymmetry” and a tool to help change the rider’s body “pattern.”


Setting goals:

  • Start with odd seat bone to midline of saddle (during the sit) 3 or more times in a row before switching back to “familiar seat bone.”

  • Later try asking them to bring “odd seat bone” to midline 3 or more times then switch to familiar seat bone” for no more than 2 times then they have to try and switch back to odd seat bone” to midline.

  • Long term goal is when the rider no longer feels one seat bone as odd or familiar switch every other post.


What the “exercise” does a rider’s body:

  • This exercise can loosen any tightness in the rider’s lumbar.

  • It can also relieve held tension in the rider’s “SI joint” area.

  • This exercise can create better dexterity and strength for the rider’s lower back.

  • Can relieve (rider’s) lower back pain/discomfort.


What the “exercise” does in a horse’s body.

  • This exercise can loosen any tightness in a horse’s lumbar.

  • It can also relieve held tension in a horse’s topline / back area.

  • This exercise can help strengthen a horse’s back and encourage more freedom of movement.

  • Once the horse has more freedom of movement over their back, often the ability for them to engage their hind end can be easier to perform.


OVER ALL:

This exercise can help breaks up asymmetry both in the horse and its rider, creating a partnership that can come closer to balance, harmony and connection…together.






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