Would you believe that what you do in the kitchen could help improve your riding? Most of us spend 1 hour in the kitchen doing various tasks like washing dishes, cleaning, cooking, preparing to cook, or maybe just conversing with others. During this time you could be working to improve your horse riding time!! Below are ways to help your time spent in the kitchen to be horse meaningful.
Tip #1- Washing dishes/cooking
Be mindful of the evenness of weight on both feet and distributed across the entire foot.
Common misalignments that can cause wear and tear on body and interfere with posture when riding:
1. Leaning against sink with front of the body/hips
2. Resting one foot on top of another
3. Leaning 1 elbow or forearm on sink
What to do instead:
1. Keep weight on foot even. You will either lengthen the arms out to sink or being feet closer to sink where there is less pressure at front of hips and more even balance on feet across all 4 corners of foot.
2. Keep regular checking when you feel you need to pick one foot off the floor and put it back down. First job is to notice then you can make change.
3. See if the foot you want off the floor is on the same side as the elbow that wants to rest on the sink. Usually it is!
These tendencies have years of practice in holding the body in this shape. When riding it affects your turning aids as the leg you tend to rest is the longer one and can struggle to assist you in the canter depart as it tends to hang out in front. The elbow that rests is your shorter ribcage that tends to collapse and is the seat bone you probably struggle to stay on and can cause a horse to struggle with the correct lead of canter.
Tip #2- Putting dishes away
How do you lift dishes to the shelf or bend down to put things away? I know I have a right dominated foot to step and reach from. So that keeps my left side of body shorter as it usually lifts up off the floor.
Common misalignments when putting dishes away:
1. Standing on tippy toe of 1 foot and reaching as far as you can to put away things high up.
2. Bending over and leaning to one side to look or reach under a cabinet to put things away.
Here is how to realign the spine for putting things away:
1. Keep body even on both feet and if you can't reach get a ladder for better body awareness. This builds strength to stay even on a horse.
2. Squat down to put things away to help posting trot muscles:)
Tip #3- Cleaning
When sweeping or cleaning floors, is there one hand that grabs the mop lower than the other? Is that the same foot that always leads?
Common dominated side cleaning says:
1. Using only 1 hand to clean or same hand position on broom or mop.
2. Dropping 1 shoulder more than other or twisting to 1 side.
Instead here are some ways to be mindfully aware to improve self carriage while cleaning:
1. Try to change what hand grabs lower as this will improve your turning. The hand that leads is the direction that turning is easier. For example, I usually have right hand lower and my right circles are much easier than left.
2. Keep shoulders square as to not loose your balance of even rib cage lengthen to help keep balance when riding. This happens more than you would think.
The years of holding postures during everyday tasks have caused muscle memory. If you struggle to keep your own balance and evenness or have trouble steering your horse try changing the muscles you use during the time spent off the horse. First task is to become aware. Without awareness it is hard to change what you don't know. Enjoy making these mindful improvements and you'll surely notice the difference!