How did you learn to use your core?

holzrokz

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My core strength used to be diabolical/non-existent a few years back, which really showed in my riding.
For the past year or so I've been really working hard on improving my core strength. It's improved by a huge amount in the last 12 months, which is even more noticeable as I had my appendix out a year ago which really put my core strength back to square one.
However, I still don't feel as if I'm using it when I'm riding. It's fine if I think about it all the time, but I just seem to forget to engage it.
Does anyone else have this problem? How did you learn to use it whilst riding? Or does it just come naturally to you?
I'm already going to the gym regularly (doing abs/core work excercises a personal trainer has given me), I do yoga once a week, pole dancing at least once a week and other workouts that utilise my core. I'm finally starting a Pilates course in a couple of weeks so I can start doing classes, so I'm hoping this will be the final bit of help I need for when I ride!

Thanks :)
 

ihatework

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It doesn't come naturally to me at all. I've become more aware of it through Pilates and also a series of lessons I had on a mechanical horse. I also did an unmounted RWYM course which made me a little more aware of what I was doing with my body (but not massively useful for riding otherwise!). I still get lazy and forget to engage my core, but I'm more aware of what I should be doing now at least!
 

Cortez

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You can't "forget" to use your abdominal muscles (which I am presuming is what is meant by the term "core"?); they are essential for you to remain upright! You can, however, sit incorrectly or ride ineffectually. I certainly know when I've been doing a lot of tough riding as my abs will be sore, and I was never told anything about "cores"...........so it must be instinctual.
 

Enfys

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Lessons with a Military Riding Instructor :( Lots and lots of no stirrup work. Core was never mentioned ;)

(On cavalry rejects - hard work. One of the horses I rode was notorious for being sacked from the H.C because he would ****** off back to Barracks as the whim took him!)
 

Perfect_Pirouette

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I do think you have to make a conscious effort to engage and keep your core throughout your schooling sessions. I always think that I want to be able to feel both my bum cheeks touching the saddle on each 'sit' stride and to turn my tummy muscles on so my hands and elbows are relaxed and independent from my seat! Some sessions I engage it more subconsciously and easily than others. I have to keep myself disciplined though!
 

Farma

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Lunge lessons and no stirrup work doing lots of exercises to strengthen also ride as many and as much as poss even if it means volunteering as I don't think you can emulate well time in the saddle with anything else x
 

soulfull

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I do think you have to make a conscious effort to engage and keep your core throughout your schooling sessions. I always think that I want to be able to feel both my bum cheeks touching the saddle on each 'sit' stride and to turn my tummy muscles on so my hands and elbows are relaxed and independent from my seat! Some sessions I engage it more subconsciously and easily than others. I have to keep myself disciplined though!
This^^^ just keep doing it, yes you will forget for a while but just keep trying. eventually you will be using it more often than you forget. That is what I am telling myself anyway, and it is working so far
 

NZJenny

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Endurance riding. Riding a canter with bum out of the saddle for several hours on end, does wonders for your abs.
 

holzrokz

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hmmm yeh it doesn't help that I'm only riding once a week again! I was thinking of looking into getting some lunge lessons or schoolmaster lessons so I can work on myself a bit more. It just doesn't come naturally to me so I have to work at it. Hopefully the pilates classes will help things along a little bit more.
 

Pearlsasinger

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Hours spent riding without stirrups, sitting trot/rising trot/canter. Like others who learned to ride in the dark ages, 'the core' was never mentioned, we were just expected to ride effectively.
 

Pigeon

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Me too! I have quite defined stomach muscles now so I know I HAVE core strength, but I am rubbish at utilizing it in riding! Some really good replies here :)
 

Twiglet

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Me too! I have quite defined stomach muscles now so I know I HAVE core strength, but I am rubbish at utilizing it in riding! Some really good replies here :)
Defined stomach muscles don't reflect your core strength - they are just toned abdominals. The 'core' consists of much deeper muscles (the transversus abdominis), which aren't visible. Some of the best pilates teachers I've had haven't been at all 'ripped' - whereas six packs are entirely achievable with a weak core.
I learnt to use my core through pilates, and I certainly feel the difference when riding if I've been working hard in pilates classes.
 

holzrokz

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Defined stomach muscles don't reflect your core strength - they are just toned abdominals. The 'core' consists of much deeper muscles (the transversus abdominis), which aren't visible. Some of the best pilates teachers I've had haven't been at all 'ripped' - whereas six packs are entirely achievable with a weak core.
I learnt to use my core through pilates, and I certainly feel the difference when riding if I've been working hard in pilates classes.
This is very true and something I neer knew before I started core/gym work properly. Everyone has a 'six pack' or abdominal muscles, even though in most people you can't see them. It only becomes visible when you reach a certain body fat percentage (i.e. quite a low body fat percentage). As they say, abs are made in the kitchen. Doing hundreds of abs excercises would never give you a visible six pack if you still had a high body fat percentage.

People doing pilates seem to have had a great result, so I hope starting the classes will be the last little bit I need to help me with riding. I have to do a whole days course about pilates at the gym I go to before I can start the classes, so I'm hoping they are good!

Just another random question. When looking at a rider from the ground, as they ride how would you know that they have good core strength/are engaging their core effectively? I can see it in say top dressage riders, as I guess the horses have such huge movement that if they didn't engage their core they probably wouldn't stay in the saddle for very long!
 

Pigeon

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Ooh, okay, I do crunches and that thing where you lift your legs up? Er, might literally be called leg lifts? Are those more for abs? Are there any exercises that someone fairly useless at anatomy can do at home without damaging themselves? :p I have heard pilates is good but I really can't afford classes, I know a bit of yoga, maybe I should be more consistent with it.
 

holzrokz

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Core-Streng...977572&sr=1-1&keywords=core+strength+training

Crunches are definitely for the abs. They do still make up your core but are only a small part of it. I've been meaning to get this book for ages! My friend has it and I had a look through it once and it looked really good. You can look at quite a lot of it before buying. It has difficulty levels so you can start with the more simple things and then it gives you progression excercises for each excercise. Most things you can do at home with no other equipment, although a stability ball is very good :)
 

Marydoll

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I found mine riding a big warmblood who could rear at the drop of a hat or ping you out the front door like a pea out of a peashooter.
He also had a wee penchant for bowling on in canter and if you used the hand alone you were goosed, it was sit up, engage core and nutcracker thighs or you were as well tattooing the postcode on your a$$
 

nannubu

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Am reading RYWM at the mo and find it quite useful as am encouraged to actively think about 'core' engagement - hopefully through repetition, it will come more naturally. Find the metaphors MW uses really help but the one that my (non horsey) husband found most amusing was the 'bear down (with your abdominal muscles), as if you were about to defecate' line. He will often screech this at me whilst I am schooling, much to the horror of onlookers. :) :)
There is a lot of talk about engaging core/using your seat etc. without actually explaining what that means. Think RWYM has helped me understand a little better, whilst clearly performing the vital task of keeping my husband amused with 'poo' humour... What's not to like? :)
 

Marydoll

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Am reading RYWM at the mo and find it quite useful as am encouraged to actively think about 'core' engagement - hopefully through repetition, it will come more naturally. Find the metaphors MW uses really help but the one that my (non horsey) husband found most amusing was the 'bear down (with your abdominal muscles), as if you were about to defecate' line. He will often screech this at me whilst I am schooling, much to the horror of onlookers. :) :)
There is a lot of talk about engaging core/using your seat etc. without actually explaining what that means. Think RWYM has helped me understand a little better, whilst clearly performing the vital task of keeping my husband amused with 'poo' humour... What's not to like? :)
Another good book to help those unsure of correct aiding and use of core in Sylvia Loch's "the balanced horse, the aids by feel not force" and online " the crystal system" is fantastic at explaining things and sends regular emails
With new ways to look at things and learn
 

wren123

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Trouble I have is I used to use my core naturally when young. Now I am returned to riding after having two children my core is shot! And when I got told that I have no muscles in my core by my RI, I then try and firm up which leads to me tightening my bum muscles and the horse objects, to be honest I feel like giving up! A good RI and I am having private lessons but I leave my lesson feeling there is no hope for my riding!!

Sorry no answer for OP, but I look forward to hearing more answers as I am doing exercises, but seemingly to no use.
 

TrasaM

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By accident :D
I got knocked over by friends horse and landed heavily on my sacrum. For two weeks after I was stiff and very sore so when I had my riding lessons I was trying to hold my pelvis very still to minimise the pain. Most miraculous riding improvement ever :D beautiful controlled canter on a horse I used to struggle with suddenly doing perfect collect and extended stride .. Sadly when I recovered it all went to pot again and it took me a while to figure out why. RI did suggest hitting me with cricket bat to replicate it lol.
 

chestnut cob

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Ooh, okay, I do crunches and that thing where you lift your legs up? Er, might literally be called leg lifts? Are those more for abs? Are there any exercises that someone fairly useless at anatomy can do at home without damaging themselves? :p I have heard pilates is good but I really can't afford classes, I know a bit of yoga, maybe I should be more consistent with it.
Pigeon, try the Yoga Journal website. They have loads of yoga practise videos on there, all free, which you can follow. You can filter them according to what you want to achieve (hip openers, core strength, relaxation etc) and have vids from 5mins to an hour long. Worth a look, and all for free!
 

ecb89

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By accident :D
I got knocked over by friends horse and landed heavily on my sacrum. For two weeks after I was stiff and very sore so when I had my riding lessons I was trying to hold my pelvis very still to minimise the pain. Most miraculous riding improvement ever :D beautiful controlled canter on a horse I used to struggle with suddenly doing perfect collect and extended stride .. Sadly when I recovered it all went to pot again and it took me a while to figure out why. RI did suggest hitting me with cricket bat to replicate it lol.
I feel your pain! I came flying off last year and fractured my sacrum. Not nice :(
 
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