The core is probably one of the most misunderstood areas of rider’s biomechanics.
If you ask 10 people they will all give you a different answer what it actually is, how it’s used etc. why and how to train it, and how it applies to riders.
I aim to explain more on core stability in respect to riders, by using a series of boxes to give you visuals to understand this better.
The core is a broad umbrella term. It encompasses the musculoskeletal system of your torso, pelvis and spine along with muscles and connective fascia.
In a very simple form I like to imagine the core as a series of stacked boxes, each must be strong on all sides, and supporting the other boxes. When stacked they must also be able to rotate freely.
As the images below shows, the bottom box represents our pelvis, and instability here affects the box stacked above.
The top box provides core stability to the trunk and spine, in other words, the box is stable during movement. From this stable center, the body is provided a solid foundation for efficient muscle contraction and movement of the arms and legs (independent limbs).
Imagine if one side of top box collapsed! What do you imagine happens? The same goes for your torso – it would slouch, leading to a weak riding position.
For core stabilisation we often mean the deeper layers of muscle that are of interest since they provide the segmental control essential for core stability.
Some of these are your (TVA) Transverse Abdominus Muscle, rectus abdominus (your abs) the diaphragm and back extensors along with the stabilisation muscles that surround the pelvis.
🔹A strong stable core can also:
• Aid your riding position by giving you dynamic stability, symmetry and efficient shock absorption.
• Allow you to give clearer aids to your horse.
• Be used to control your horse, especially in flatwork, i.e. the half halt.
• Help you gain an independent seat.
• Help you regain balance after being unseated when jumping or when a horse ‘is having a moment’!
• The core muscles play a role in proprioception, this the body’s ability to sense where it is and how it is moving.