Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The benefits of cross-training

My coach had a somewhat unusual new technique for me the other day, and given that it seemed too simple I wasn't entirely convinced of its effectiveness, but I gave it a solid attempt and was pleasantly surprised at the results.

So I followed up with this by asking a few of the good riders I know to give it a try and let me know what they thought. And they did a lot of smiling and nodding of the "uh huh Laur, sure why not" variety clearly thinking little more of this than I did... But being used to the strange and unusual things I come up w/ (or in this case, inherit from my coach :) AND always being open to the idea that something new might help improve their riding, they each gave it a go. And were pretty happy with the results.

This being the case a few of us have started testing this somewhat unusual focus with our students -- and after the laughs and looks of disbelief we are treated to when we first mention it (except for the girls who've been with me for years who are now surprised when they *don't* hear something strange and unusual on a fairly regular basis :) all of our students seem to be having reasonable success with this too...

Given all that, I thought I'd share with a broader audience (there goes that ego again, hoping people actually read this! :) How many times have you been told to keep your heels down, turn your toes out, or tighten your calf while jumping? Anybody who's been jumping more than about a week probably can't count the number... So next time you're jumping, instead of trying to accomplish any or all of those, jump a few fences with the focus being entirely on spreading your toes apart. (hmmmm I can see the rolling eyes now!). But seriously -- try it even just standing on the ground. As you spread your toes, the middle three will lift as will the ball of your feet (essentially dropping the weight and balance into your heels), your feet will turn out slightly, and the muscle at the back of your calf will tighten. All of the things you want to happen going over a fence.

Give it a try :) Worst thing that happens is you feel a little silly. Best thing is your position improves significantly. Personally, that's a risk I'm willing to take :)

And the cross-training part of the title? This advice originally came not from a riding coach, but from a yoga coach.


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