The three musketeers of mind, body and emotion are always inseparable. For example, you think an anxious thought (mind). Your field of vision narrows (body). You feel super nervous (emotion).
At different times, you might be aware of only one aspect of the triad, but all three are always there with their own special effects.
So regarding the challenge of keeping your heels down … this is not only a physical/technical happening. It’s also related to your thoughts and to your emotions. ¨In many cases when your heels come up, that signals some kind of anxiety and/or insecurity … which is natural, of course if you are just learning to ride … or if you don’t feel confident riding for any number of reasons.
When your heels come up your center of balance (which is in your lower abdomen, your core), also shifts. Now your center of balance on your horse is temporarily out of whack.
Because your core is not only your physical center of balance, but also your emotional center in your body, when you get out of your core (i.e., heels up) lots of things are going on at the same time. So, you might feel shaky within (emotion), as well as disconnected from the horse (physical). You might be thinking, “Oh, man … @#$!” (mind).
So here’s a simple solution to the heels up challenge.
1. Standing still on your horse, tell yourself “core”. As you say “core” to yourself, contract your abdominal muscles in a motion that would be like pushing your belt buckle back in an attempt to touch your spine.
2. Feel how much closer you feel to your horse. As you sit and experience this sensation of connecting to your core, become aware of your legs and and then your feet next to your horse.
3. In this position of being connected to your core, drop your heels with ease. Be careful not to force them down. Stay connected to your core with your legs and feet close to your horse.
4. Now choose a target to walk toward in the arena. Before you start, get grounded in your core, feel your legs and feet. With your eyes softly on your target, point your hand toward the target and begin your walk in that direction. As you walk, chant rhythmically to yourself, “Core. Feet. Core. Feet. Core. Feet.” Again, don’t struggle to keep your heels down. Instead, allow yourself to connect to your core as you feel your horse walking. Feel your legs and feet next to your horse and let your heels to drop down naturally.
5. If you are having trouble with your heels at any specific gait … repeat the above sequence.
Have a specific goal in mind … where are you going and how? Get set with your core and your eyes before you start. Point your hand and then proceed as you tell yourself, “Core. Feet.” Feel your core and feel your feet.
Enjoy your new found connection with your horse … mind, body and emotion!
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