When you sign up to The Crystal System Blog you get 3 valuable reports
- 5 Dressage Tips that could Revolutionise your Riding
- 10 MUST DO Dressage Test Tips that will Take your scores to GOOD or better
- 99 Questions to help you self-assess your Training Progress – (catchy title – does what it says on the tin!)
Report No. 3 is the ultimate, ridiculously long, ‘quick check’ guide and is essentially a whole heap of quick fire questions designed to help you self-assess your training progression. Most riders print the report and put them it in their tack room, so that after riding they can pick it up and use it as a reference guide.
I thought it might be useful to delve a little deeper into each question so I am starting a new series of blogs to give you a little more information about each question and how it might help your riding goals.
Self-Assessment Question #1 : Are you relaxed?
Are there any muscle groups subconsciously tense? – gripping thigh, tension through shoulders, tense fingers, rigid jaw-line, rock hard arms, solid back? All of the above?
I wrote a blog post back in 2015 after realising that my gargantuan efforts were worthy but ineffective. All that effort and concentration was having a negative effect on my ability to relax in the saddle.
Often we don’t even know we are doing it, but when concentrating, the effort involved shows as tension in the jaw muscles. Jaw tension is frustrating, because unless you notice it and do something about it, it can send shock-waves of tension down your body and through your arms without you knowing. We all carry our daily tensions and stresses in various parts of our bodies, yet the sensitive muscles of the jaw seem particularly susceptible to chronic tension and stress. The very best way to relieve the tension? Simply smile. So if you want to put in a jaw-dropping performance at competition, drop your jaw!
Tightness in the buttocks emanates down the legs and up the torso and is the single biggest contributor to balance problems in the saddle. So, ‘heavy buttocks’ allows your legs to relax, ankles to relax and has a revolutionary effect on your riding. When I say ‘heavy buttocks’ I do not mean HEAVY – it’s relaxed or actually – not so tense as to affect your horses way of going.
An amazingly useful tool to find where you hold tension is to do ‘max-relax’ This requires you to exaggerate your tension to a ‘ridiculous’ level and then release it. It’s not all about the buttocks though, you can do max/relax with any area of tension in your body.
Want to give it a go?
It’s really good fun, I guarantee it will make you laugh and you can kill two birds with one stone! I hope you enjoy this quick fire series of posts, designed to simply focus on one thing at a time and get your thought juices flowing.