EQ Life Masthead - 2019
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Get hippy with it!

Tiny & Mim Coleman - Photo supplied by Mim Coleman
Mim Coleman and Tiny
Photo courtesy of Mim Coleman


Hello everyone it’s great to have another story to tell you.  It’s a long one, but it’s an easy read with a few laughs.  So put the kettle on or take the screw cap off and relax.

Ok so hands up if you were/are a fan of the TV series OFFSPRING?

Hands up if you have got the lyrics to a song totally wrong? 3 of my best that I would like to share with you are:

Cold Chisel’s  -  “Cheap wine and a 3 legged dog”?    Is in fact “Cheap wine and a 3 day growth” 

How about thinking that Iggy Azalea is singing “I’m so passe” ……… no comment

So it should come as no surprise that every time I hear the catchy tune to the very entertaining TV series OFFSPRING I’m singing  “open your hips, open your hips, open your hips to me” or alternatively I could be singing the correct lyrics  which are “Oh bring your hips, oh bring your hips, oh bring your hips to me”

You have permission to ROTFL, just put your beverage down first.

Segway to this week’s TANJA MITTON clinic where the dynamo positional expert very patiently explained to me how important it is for riders to develop an independent seat that then will allow the horse to find balance and be more able to use its back.   OPEN YOUR HIPS!   See I was right all along. 

Next time you hop on board your beloved, horse, can you do something for me?  Initially, does one of your stirrups feel shorter than the other?  My right stirrup always feels shorter and I am constantly trying to lengthen the leg in every session.  But the next day it feels short.  I asked Tanja about this observation and how I thought that perhaps taking the stirrup down a hole would help to create the even feel in the stirrups.

The response from Tanja was an emphatic NO.  

The leg feels short because the muscles and tendons around my hips and upper leg are tight and the hip is “closed”.  At the end of Day 1 the leg felt long, I am talking Elle McPherson long!  The price I paid for that was a very sore lower back and hips that felt like they needed replacing.  But hey one must suffer for a beautiful position (and long legs).

Day 2 - immediately after I hopped on my right leg didn’t feel short at all. In fact it felt longer than the left. Watch out NYC Fashion Show this 5’5” housewife has legs of a 6’1” supermodel!

Here are the key messages 

  • Sternum up – it helps if your eyes are up and looking where you are going
  • Belly button to spine – yep got that one under control – or so I thought …..
  • Tilt the pelvis – lift the pubic bone up and in doing so you create space for the horse to lift its back underneath you 
  • Open the hips – sing along now 
  • Soft knees off the saddle 
  • Breathe – What? When? How? 

Now do all that simultaneously. 

Sounds easy right? 

Tiny - photo supplied by Mim Coleman
Photo courtesy of Mim Coleman

Tiny had a fabulous time being the school pony while the focus was on me.  It wasn’t long after I managed to contort my pelvis into the correct position that the quality of the trot improved and Tiny was able to swing his pelvis too. The lift in the trot was noticeable as he was able to lift his back due to the space I had created with my seat.  

The euphoria lasted for half a 20 meter circle and then the sternum dropped, the belly button bulged out, the pubic bone collapsed, the hips were in agony but I was doing well with knees off the saddle.  Oh yeah and don’t forget to breathe.

So through the check list again sternum, belly button to spine, pubic bone lift, open hips, knees off the saddle, big breath out. Again and again and again.

 Muscle memory is a funny thing and my muscles were keen to memorize slouching on a sun lounge by the pool of a 5 star hotel with a cocktail in one hand a and a good book in the other.

Now Picture this: Tiny and I on a 20 meter circle in sit trot

Tanja: Open your right hip more so that you have more weight in your right seat bone. Can you feel your right seat bone?

Tiny: No I can’t feel her right seat bone Tanja! Heaven help her!

Me: Hang on I’m just checking my sternum, belly button to spine, pubic bone lift, opens hips, knees soft, breath and now you are asking me to feel my right seat bone?  All I can feel is my glutes tightening in protest, my inner thigh wants to resume the closed position and my iliotibial band (ITB) is close to snapping! 

No, I cannot feel my right seat bone! At all!

Back to walk for a break thank goodness.  When retraining the muscles, the muscles fatigue very quickly. So many walk breaks were a must.  Tiny was in heaven this is the BEST Grand Prix start preparation EVER!  However at this point in time I feel like I could manage a preliminary test, make it an easy one like the 1.1.

After the 2 lessons we established that my sternum is actually my weak point.  Eyes-up is an easy way to resolve that.  If I lift my sternum I found that the core engagement and pelvic tilt came naturally.  Opening the hips then follows on from that. But that’s where I need to really focus on stretching.

My hips and lower back are not happy and are calling for Jan.  I think it is time to go back to the Pilates studio, or maybe yoga? I can at least start including hip stretches in my gym sessions.

I have so much homework to do but I know that it will all fall into place and help Tiny and I towards the holy grail of creating greater energy in our tests in a soft and balanced manner.

Valegro by Carl Hester - photo supplied by Mim Coleman
Looking forward to reading this!!
Photo courtesy of Mim Coleman

When we were in Las Vegas at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final my friend Belinda and I stumbled across the most amazing rider positional system. In essence it is a mechanical horse with sensors throughout the “body’.  You are mounted on the horse and in front of you are multiple flat screens simulating you riding in a dressage arena.  You are seeing a “virtual” you on the screen.  The sensors in the “horse” provide immediate feedback to you on the screen and via a number of electronic metrics. Immediately you can see how even you are, or not, on your seat bones, your pressure on the reins, your length and strength of thigh and lower leg. Google ‘dressage virtual simulator” and you will find what I am talking about.  What an amazing tool to improve postural awareness.  Unfortunately the wait line was very long and we didn’t get a chance to play.  On the upside this did afford us time to continue shopping 

If you can’t find a simulator but you want to develop a better balance in the saddle, an independent seat, a horse that is swinging and soft over the back then get yourself to a TANJA MITTON clinic. Initially your hips won’t thank-you but your horse will.

Next I will talk to you about my recent clinic with the ever brilliant and insightful Roger Fitzhardinge.  As well as my recent session with home grown Level 3 Dressage Specialist Lydia Jackson on the importance of the outside rein.

Thank you for reading, liking and sharing. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to share with you Tiny and my adventures.

Live beyond your dreams

For dreams can create boundaries

Live your joy

Live your Life

Live your Equestrian Life

© Mim Coleman

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