During recent lessons it’s been brought to my attention that I have tight hips. That’s right. Tight hips. I don’t think it was a meant as a compliment. I distinctly didn’t hear “she has a tight body.” Big difference. Entirely different meaning.

I’ll admit that even though I’m small I’m not exactly in peak condition. My twenties are long gone and so is that waifish body. I have a few curves now and it took a long time and a child to achieve them. Apparently some toning and flexibility are now in order. (Sigh. Puts back the Snickers bar.)

As a dressage rider I need a combination of strength (check) and flexibility (Can I find that in aisle 8?). I need to develop a “breathing leg” and that means open hips. I am no longer a jumper. I am not allowed to close my knees or hips. My dressage legs must drape lightly around my horse’s barrel in a gentle hug. It’s all about attaining a deep seat and balance. No gripping and don’t lean forward! Both of these close the hips.

Excuse me while I return to my lessons

Your hips are really tight. I want you to take your feet out of the stirrups and walk around. Okay.

Now take both legs off the saddle. Lift them out to the sides. Not easy. Ow.

I want to see some air under your thighs. There is air! Gasp. More?! Ow.

You’re tilting forward and your lower leg is drifting back. Lift your thighs off the saddle and with your hand pull the fat towards the back. Huh? Fat?! Are you saying I have fat thighs?

This will place your inner thigh against the saddle and align your ankle and hip. Your legs should be quieter too. This feels weird.

Now pick up a trot. Still weird.

Nice. Much better. Hmmm, kinda comfy now.

Pick up a circle and canter. Okay. Arrrgh! She’s leaning to the inside.

Get her off that inside leg! Step down into that inside stirrup. Now with a breathing leg push her into that outside rein. Duh. Stepping into stirrup, tap, tap, tap. Wow no leaning!

If your inside leg clings to her, she’ll lean into it. Fueling the fire…darn.

Now open your hips and follow the motion. Your stopping your movement too soon and sending her a mixed message of forward but not really. Ride the wave. Okay. Drop inside leg. No gripping. Open, open, open…wheeeeeeee!

Where’s your circle? Look at the tracks you made when you trotted the circle. Now you see the tracks on the smaller circle? Make your canter circle like your trotting circle. Push her to the outside and look where you’re going. Drop inside leg. No gripping, tap, tap, tap, open, open, open…wheeeeeeee!

It’s magic! Like open sesame!