N – Is For Neutral
… or actually ‘Neutral Spine’.
The term ‘three-point-seat’ has been around for centuries and it refers to the seat bones and the crotch.
Rocking on just two-point, under the buttocks leads to instability while sending out endlessly confusing aids; likewise if the rider rounds or convexes the back this may lead to the tail/coccyx being turned under the core/trunk.
The very act of sitting compresses the stacking arrangement of the spine and by virtue of gravity it will flatten the lumbar by curling it under and thus leave us without the ability to absorb movement effectively.
To compensate you will often see riders pushing their stomachs forward and arching the lower back, again not permitting the vertical stack which allows a free and cushioning arrangement for absorption of movement – The Neutral Spine.
It is only by ensuring you have full 3-point contact with the seat can you hope to remain over the horse’s centre of balance. But beware, it is through flexibility of the spine that you absorb the movement, a straight back that is rigid is as bad as one that is hollow or collapsed.
The diagram shows from left to right.
- Rider tilting backwards, pushing out stomach and arching lower back
- Neutral spine with 3-point contact.
- Rider tilting forwards, collapsing stomach and pushing tail down
Here’s what to do … try to think of stretching up when you ride. Here’s a couple of ideas to help …
- Think that someone has you by the ears from above, stretch up your neck and ‘straighten’ your spine. Or …
- Imagine someone just told you that you look like you lost weight, you would draw up, pull in the stomach, smile and say – “do you think so?” This is the ‘stretched up’ feeling you want in the saddle. Or …
- Sometimes it is better to think of opening upwards from the waist and keeping the navel and sternum projected, the spine will take its own correct alignment from this.
You will often hear instructors saying “relax the upper body”, what they actually mean is allow your upper body to grow taller and expand the torso.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster
Hi my name is linda hastings love your book . I’m have lessons once a week on not so great horses ,I practice at home on a saddle , not sure if I’m getting my seatbones right or sitting in the correct position what can I do to self check . X
I think I would use a mirror Linda, if you look at my latest post you will see the alignment you need and you can self check this way. Thanks for the book feedback, do the walking seatbones exercise to check if you have found them. Patricia x