Peggy Cummings calls this very important exercise she teaches, “Rotation.” I often call it “Belly Button Exercise.” By any name, I recommend you master it and learn to use it often. It’s good for you, and wonderful for your horse.
The benefits of this simple, easy to master exercise are many. “Rotating” can, and will, help calm your horse, because it will soften you, and also help sit you deeper in the saddle. It will soften your spine, shoulders, neck and legs. Even your feet will become lighter!
When your body is soft and relaxed your horse can relax, soften and lengthen, and she will. You can add to “Rotation” the exercise of “Combing the reins” to greatly help soften and calm a worried, hurried horse.
Sitting soft in the saddle put one finger in your belly button, the thumb of the other hand at your spine, and rotate, just your belly button not your hips, an inch or two to the right, and hold it a second. Then rotate back to the center, hold it a second—then rotate to the left, hold it a second, and back to the center. Now keep rotating right, center, left over and over.
As you rotate remember to breath normally, sit in neutral, and allow your body to respond.
Feel the softness radiate up and down your core from your feet to head. You will feel your seat grow deeper, your legs lengthen and body soften. You’ll also feel your horse soften.
Begin your practice sitting still, but as soon as you are able, walk your horse on and rotate while walking. As soon as you master the feel of the rotation, you can stop using your hands, simply think of your belly button and rotate.
At first it will be difficult to rotate only your belly button, your mid-section and hips will want to turn along, and that’s okay at first, but concentrate on only aiming your belly button slightly right and left. In time you’ll feel the release and will be able to rotate subtly and your hips will not follow, you’ll only rotate from your waist up.
Remember the movement is slight, only turn an inch or so, then hold and return. Stay soft, sit in neutral and breathe. Allow the rotation to soften you, and your horse. You can practice and do this any time, sitting at your desk, driving, even walking. In time, with practice, you’ll learn to feel your muscles move lightly around your spine, you’ll feel an amazing release. So will your horse.
This exercise is something I do all the time, perhaps a hundred times a day. In addition to being a great thing for your horse, it helps a lot with back and leg pain, I know.
Do the “Belly Button Rotation,” it’ll do you and your horse good!
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry
P.S. ~ If you not yet had a look at my book, “It’s for the Horses: An advocate’s musings about their needs, gifts, spirit and care,” CLICK HERE ... and to view the trailer CLICK HERE