Monthly Archives: January 2012

Stretching shins with Hero Pose

Your legs, when positioned correctly in contact with the horse, are the most influential tools you have to effectively communicate your aids.

Yoga can assist you in developing a correct and effective riding position by improving the muscular strength and flexibility of your legs.

“Yoga for Equestrians” by Linda Benedik & Veronica Wirth

Dressage rider leg position

Photo by Douglas J O’Brien on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Hero Pose – Virasana

vira = man, hero, chief
asana = pose
Pronounced: (veer-AHS-anna)

When I took dressage lessons I wasn’t able to hold the proper leg position until over time had stretched out the stiffness in my ankles and leg muscles. Leg flexibility is important for riding.

Muscles of shin marked with colored ink on leg

Due to an injury this summer I have a weak right knee and am stiff down my right shin over my ankle (anterior tibialis).

Hero pose stretches the hips, thighs, knees, ankles and feet. It can be a good posture to practice neutral spine and staying centered over the hip bones.

As with all exercises, it is important to build up slowly. Use a block under the hips to ease the stretch.

Hero Pose

The following video gives good examples of using props as you increase flexibility. With practice the buttocks will be on the floor centered over the hips between the ankles and feet.

Also see “Child’s Pose” in a prior post, which is similar.

If the shin muscle (anterior tibialis) is tight, then you can do a myofascial release using a soft roller.

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Filed under Anatomy and Physiology, Human health, Yoga

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If you exercise beyond your abilities, then 24 to 72 hours later you may experience  ‘Delayed On-set Muscle Soreness‘ or ‘DOMS’. The pain and stiffness is likely the result of tiny muscle fiber tears. The body will recover and build up strength in rebuilding the muscles after a few days. Gentle massage and stretching can help ease the discomfort. Resting the muscles is a good option.

I learned the term ‘DOMS’ on a vacation trip to Canada when we hiked 3.5 miles from the parking lot of the hotel on Lake Louise B.C. to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Coming back down the 3.5 miles my legs were turning into quivering jelly. I’m surprised we managed to do the hike. We most definitely overdid that day. Two days later we were hobbling around in agony.

View overlooking hotel on Lake Louise, B.C. from hiking back from Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse

Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse Hike: View overlooking Lake Louise, B.C. (Photo by IcieMeg)


Unfortunately I’m finding it is very easy to over use my muscles. Two weeks ago I made myself rather sore twice with DOMS. I slathered on Ultra Strength BenGay, used my heating pad and took Ibuprofen.

First overused my upper legs. Our ground is a mix of red clay and sand intermixed with sandstone. I was out in the yard noting more small sandstone rocks brought to the surface by wind and rain. I usually bend to pick these up. My bending over muscles are good from poop scooping chores. I decided to use deep knee bends because am needing to practice this exercise to build up the muscle strength to help me mount my horses from the ground. I managed about 15 deep knee bends while walking around the backyard picking up the stones. A couple of days later paid the price with pain and stiffness in my legs that made it painful to even walk.

Little girl trying to balance on a ball (Photo by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr)

Photo by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

My legs being sore didn’t prevent me from sitting. Another day tried sitting on a stability ball as my office chair for about 2 hours to work on my posture and balance. I had no idea that I was overdoing so badly because sitting on a balance ball is hard work. It didn’t feel like hard work, but my muscles were firing constantly to keep my balance. This resulted in very sore shoulders and stiff neck with a headache, as well as areas on my back and hips.

Being so sore, the main exercise for last week was only to spend a few moments during the day to stretch out my right knee and shin, as well as practicing balancing on one foot. From my prior post of “Yoga on a sheet” I had noted that my right knee and right shin to ankle and down over top of my foot is very stiff. I can’t think of why this part of my body became so stiff and why my left side isn’t stiff. I did injure my right knee this summer, so maybe that is the reason.

In upcoming posts I will discuss how to stretch out the shin muscles and about using a balance ball as a chair.

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Chillout: Help to relax when feeling overwhelmed by life

Some days life fills me with stress, depression or anxiety. A person pushes my buttons, a deadline looms, miss someone who is gone, worry piles up about making ends meet, or seemingly for no reason at all. I have to mindfully remind myself to “chillout” by taking deep breaths and to stay focused on accomplishing the next small task to get through the day. If I was a horse, I’d probably be a spooky sort who jumps at what another more laid back horse would take in stride. When my horses get jumpy, I quietly assure them saying softly “You’re okay. You’re fine”. We need to tell ourselves this too.

This 1:51 length song is good to play to help relax when a day overwhelms.

“Hey, you’re okay. You’ll be fine. Just breathe. ”

Take four slow deep breaths from your diaphragm. Put one hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button. Feel your hand rise about an inch each time you inhale and fall about an inch each time you exhale. Breathe in for count of 4, breathe out for count of 4. — Play the song and focus on the words telling yourself, as you would a worried horse, that you are safe and everything will be fine. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly. Get up and stretch.


Making of ZeFrank’s “Chillout” song.



Filed under Human health

Hello world! – Moving Day

Welcome to WordPress.

This weekend the blog is moving from at

to at


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Balance in motion

These graceful athletes are learning vaulting and practicing their balance and strength.

Meanwhile… I’m trying to improve my balance by standing on one leg for as many seconds as possible, which isn’t very many seconds. I am rather wobbly and practice while gently touching a chair or a wall to give me needed stability. I practice standing beside my horses while they munch hay using them as a wall. This gives me quiet hang-out time with them and also balance practice.

How many seconds can you stand on one leg? Give it a try and find time to practice. Try the exercise while standing in line or brushing your teeth.

Stand and raise one leg up about a foot off the ground.
Hold for count of 10 seconds.

To increase the challenge stand on one leg with your eyes closed.


Filed under Riding

Political standing

This recent photo really jumped out at me. What is the politician’s position… related to “neutral spine”?

Poor posture…. Good posture

Newt Gingrich follows his wife Callista in Winnsboro, S.C., Jan., 18, 2012. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Newt Gingrich follows his wife Callista in Winnsboro, S.C., Jan., 18, 2012. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Don’t forget to work at holding neutral spine during the day.

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Our horses mirror us

How we move will affect how our horses move.

Alexander Technique while riding horse. Marie and her horse, Gabriel (Dabs).

To follow the horse’s back at the walk, you must have a deep, mobile receiving seat. Your balance and mobility can directly affect the quality of your horse’s walk.

Be a spruce tree. The roots grow down from your center as the trunk grows up.

You should allow your body to extend upward from your center as your legs grow down around your horse from that same place.

– Quotes from “Centered Riding” by Sally Swift

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Filed under Horse health, Riding

Web on Strike – Stop SOPA & PIPA

Protecting liberty and freedom is part of optimizing my life.

Today many major websites are protesting by going dark to raise awareness that the US Congress is considering censoring the web.

I am joining in this protest by adding information about these bills currently being considered in the US House and Senate.

Click links to read text of the bills:

  • House HR3261:  SOPA
  • Senate S698: PIPA.


The House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.

The bill lets corporations and the US government censor entire websites and cut sites off from advertising, payments and donations.

This legislation will stifle free speech and innovation, and even threaten popular web services like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

The House is not expected to vote on SOPA until next month but the full Senate will likely vote on PIPA on Jan. 24.

Please contact your representatives to ask them to oppose the legislation and support a filibuster.

Suggested letter text for Senator:

I am writing to you as a voter in your district. I urge you to vote “no” on cloture for S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, on Jan. 24th. The PROTECT IP Act is dangerous, ineffective, and short-sighted. It does not deserve floor consideration. I urge my representative to vote “no” on SOPA, the corresponding House bill.

Over coming days you’ll be hearing from the many businesses, advocacy organizations, and ordinary Americans who oppose this legislation because of the myriad ways in which it will stifle free speech and innovation. We hope you’ll take our concerns to heart and oppose this legislation by voting “no” on cloture.

Suggested short letter text:

I am your constituent, and I urge you to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act.  These bills will kill jobs and stifle innovation, undermine cyber security, risk censoring the American Internet, and provide cover for totalitarian regimes that want to undermine Internet freedom abroad.

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Dancing in Neutral Spine

Irish Dancing

Reel Around The Sun, Riverdance – Live from New York City, 1996

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Equine Skeleton

We can imagine our human skeleton while doing yoga exercises to improve our flexibility, strength and balance. Working with our horses, we can imagine their equine skeleton.

Equine skeleton

Equine skeleton by Walter F. Varcoe of Articulated Equine Skeleton Specialists

Dr Christin Finn DVM, CVA in this short video has a live painted horse and discusses the horse’s skeletal mass vs soft tissue. The Painted horse shows the anatomy of the equine skeleton.

Dr. Roberta Dwyer DVM of the University of Kentucky explains the bones of the horse’s skeleton in the following video.

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