Julie Goodnight teaches us how to have a better seat on our horse.
The middle of yoga class is not where I normally wish for a notebook and camera, but then how often do you get to see a horse trainer show you how walking with chi can help you ride like a supermodel?
This happened at the Julie Goodnight clinic called “Women’s Riding and Yoga Retreat and Ranch Riding Weekend” held in May at the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colo.
I was so struck by the demonstration and the accompanying explanation of how walking and riding with chi can improve your seat that I shamelessly begged Julie Goodnight to put together a short video on the concept, which she graciously did. The video, which is funny and instructional at the same time, is below. I’ve watched it several times now because it makes me laugh every time to watch Julie Goodnight be campy and strut like a supermodel.
Julie’s video explains the concept best, but basically, if you walk and ride with chi, it means you’re not leading with your shoulders and upper body, but leading from your chi, which is at the center of your core. That helps you sit back on your horse and have a better seat. I remind myself to walk, run and ride with chi by saying, “Lead with your hips!”
Does it help? Well, it’s helped me a lot. And so I decided to ask some of the other women who were at that clinic if they’ve been walking and riding with chi, and here’s what they said:
“(I’ve) been using it on the horse and everywhere else and I think it’s working spectacularly. It reminds me to also pull my shoulders back…it makes me feel stronger as if I have more energy. And picturing her showing us makes me smile.
“I also, for the first time, just took my horse on a solo trail ride, just he and I, and I could hear Julie saying, ‘Just look where you want to go with the determination and you’ll get there’ and it worked!” –Michelle Hayward, Connecticut
“I am now more conscious of how I walk. I do believe it helps me. I am 60…I just don’t want to be walking around like a little stoop-shouldered old lady. So I am practicing my chi walk. It almost a habit now in a good way. I feel better and look taller, (although) I’m only 5’1. Lol.
“My chi walk helps when riding because I’m more conscious of sitting up straight! Not leaning forward like I used to ride…Helps with breathing, too. I used to hold my breath when going around the show ring! Figured out real quick that wouldn’t work! Now I do some deep breathing cleansing breaths before entering the ring. Helps me relax and also I believe my horse feels this relaxing too. Have fun.
“Yes, it helps riding because I’m sitting taller in the saddle. My yoga gives more leg strength for my leg cues, all in all most helpful. Happy trails, and ride tall.–Terry Kirby, Tennessee
“Yes, I have been trying it in and out of the saddle! When riding, I focus on keeping my back straighter which then helps me keep my ‘sit bones’ where they need to be, and it all results in better balance and ability to easily ‘push’ my Foxtrotter into her gaits — we are communicating much better. :)
“We went riding for 3 days at the M Lazy C Ranch near Lake George and my back (which I broke two years ago) didn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to.
“When I’m not in the saddle, I remember Julie telling us to work on it in the car by putting out heads on the headrest to keep our shoulders from stooping forward–I even have my husband doing it. This one change, along with some of the yoga moves we worked on, IS helping my riding and the back pain I’d been experiencing. –Deb Cheuvront, 58, from Colorado.
So watch the video, and if you put it to use and find it helps, let me know! And if you like the thorough and yet conversational way that Julie Goodnight instructs, check out her latest video, Advanced Maneuvers. It’s offered on HorseBooksEtc.com for $29.95.
Feeling Correct Posting Diagonals: Posting on the correct diagonal is important for your horse’s balance at the trot. Learn to feel when to rise so that you never have to look down.
Leg Yielding: Julie works with an English collegiate equestrian to learn the cues and training progression for leg yielding/ two tracking.
Canter Collection: Julie works with a rider to take the horse from head up, hollowed and choppy at the canter to head down, rounded and collected through his body.
Pivots and Spins: A young English rider buys a finished reiner from Julie and needs to learn the cues and proper execution for a 460 degree pivot on the hindquarters.
Proper Gate Opening from Horseback: There is a specific procedure for proper and safe gate opening from horseback. Learn the sequence of movements for easy opening and higher scores.
The run time of Advanced Maneuvers is approx 90 minutes, and includes a bonus segment from Julie’s Refinement and Collection DVD.
And now, you can learn how to ride like a supermodel…Good luck!