X-rated stretch (This one ought to get some air time. . .)
Actually, I am joking, there is nothing in the slightest bit x-rated about what I am going to tell you–but I will give you a story about Rudolf at the base that illustrates how very difficult it is for people in our culture to effectively teach riding when it is impossible to actually talk about anything from the mid-thigh to the navel of the rider–some would say mid-thigh to chin as advice of how to strap breasts down is largely ignored as well.
However, I promised to give you one basic (and fantastically effective) stretch which you can do in the saddle–as long as your saddle has a tree that you can access.
In fact, you MUST do it in the saddle, as there is no other way to do it that I can comfortably think of. There are other stretches, but this one is too good to miss. (Ms. Melynnda who originated this stretch, has a raft of them and will happily come do a clinic for you.)
Here it is, and given that you will not have your computer with you when you try this, I will keep it incredably short and to the point.
This is a picture of a pelvis with the muscles of the hip flexor and Psoas illustrated
Below is a saddle–mine–which a pelvis like the one above would sit over quite comfortably.
So, imagine yourself sitting in the saddle looking forward.
Take one hand (lets say the right) palm down and cross your body with it grabbing the catch strap that I hope you have, and holding it firmly.
Lean softly back against that right hand, lifting your rib cage just a bit and with your right hip joint look forward and down for the tree of the saddle–in my saddle rather where the white lines are.
When you can feel that edge of the tree with the inner side of your hip joint (which you will not be able to do if you have overly rotated your tail bone under yourself–you must stretch upward and downward) stretch against the saddle, loosening the base of your Psoas from the internal side.
Repeat on the left.
Interestingly, this is one of the main areas of communication with your horse–they lift the front of the saddle when you ask them to, you connect and speak with your seat.
Oh, I promised to tell you one story on Rudolf. Here it is–and I hope he is effectively ignoring the blog.
One summer in Germany Rudolf persistently told me to stretch my leg down. And I tried–and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed. You know the story.
In desperation, weeks into this process, I finally asked him, “Do you mean I am supposed to open my thighs?”
Eyes down, slight blush from him. Assent.
Gosh darn it, though I, a whole summer and he is too embarrassed to say!
However, do remember, it is the rider’s job to translate the language of the teacher into their own body memory–and indeed the movement required is “opening the thigh”, but also engaging the base in a supple way.
And in any case, Rudolf can read the blog to his heart’s content as I am 100% happy with his instruction–years and years down the road. That says something. It works. It really, really does. But from a master, who would expect anything else?