I got an email from someone who asked, “Can you help me with a problem I have with “locked elbows”? It’s a bad habit that I’ve been trying to break forever. Any tips or visualizations would be really great!”
So, I thought it might be fun for everyone to contribute their favorite images for unlocking rigid elbows, and we can compile a list. Here are mine:
In general, elastic elbows allow for movement. In the walk and canter, your elbows need to open and close to allow for the movement of your horse’s head and neck. In the rising trot, your horse’s head and neck is still, but YOU move when you post.
Now for the specific gaits:
In the walk:
Start with your elbows bent by your sides so they almost form the letter “L”. Call that “home” position.
As your horse moves his head and neck forward and back, straighten your arms almost completely, but immediately come back to “home position”. Think of rowing a boat. You can even sing, “Row, row, row your boat!”
In the rising trot:
Stand in front of a desk. Hold your hands as if you’re holding the reins. Bend your knees as if you’re sitting in a saddle. Place your fists on the desk with your baby fingers touching the desk. Now “post”, but keep your hands in contact with the desk. Notice how your elbows open and close. The movement is like a hinge. (as opposed to the “rowing the boat” motion in walk and canter.)
In the canter:
You can “row the boat” as in the walk or use another image. Get up in a two-point position, and pretend you’re galloping down a race track. Mimic the way a jockey’s arms move forward and back. Then keep galloping with your “jockey arms” while you sit back down in the saddle.