On Balance, Or Allowing Movement To Organise The Posture

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On balance,

Or allowing the movement to organize the posture.

Last night, Giles and I were chattering in the kitchen talking about nothing in particular when I asked him how the waves had been that day. Giles is a keen surfer and while I understand very little about swell or how the wind direction affects the movement of the water, I hope that by way of osmosis I will learn a little more about the sea and its ways.

It’s interesting, he told me. I’ve been watching a martial arts guy who also surfs on YouTube, and he talked about things in a slightly different way to how many other people do. Something about what he mentioned- at least how he mentioned it- made sense to me. And so, I practiced for a while the movements that he talked about, and I noticed a really big difference when I was out there on the wave.

He described the process that he went through; how he had to look behind him to gauge the waves position. How that arced his body in a particular way. How the successful completion of the movement required a degree of anticipation, that meant not only coordinating with the movement of the water in that moment, but how it might move and behave many moments forward in space.

Oh, I said, you were following the balance line of the wave. That’s exactly what I teach when I am riding.

I stood up on the tiled floor and we talked about how, just like a horse, a wave has a centre of gravity, a balance line, or a line of energy that determines the waves direction and equilibrium. Successfully merging and matching the wave requires orienting your own centre to the line of dynamic energy moving through. The more successful you are at this, the more easily you flow together. To oppose the balance line of the wave means your balance point is off and the movement runs away with you. Or, perhaps, it’s more accurate to say you get further away from it.

In other words, you and the wave find yourself travelling in quite different directions.

In other words, a situation we would describe in surfing and in riding as ‘unideal’.

In other words, you are no longer standing upright against the wave. Or sitting on your horse. Whichever the case may be.

Understanding balance lines- the balance line of your horse and developing a felt sense of it as your orienting centre- is the holy grail of the biomechanics that I teach. Instead of micromanagement. Instead of contracting this muscle and releasing that. Instead of adjusting this ‘very slightly’, we focus on the movement of the horse and how their centreline- a literal moving, sliding structure in the body- travels and coordinates itself in space.

The possibilities for our horse in movement exist only within the range that they are balanced; our job as riders, then, is not only to facilitate balance in them in order that they can carry us without compromising themselves, but also to ensure that our balance point matches theirs; understanding where and how your horse’s centreline moves in space so you can coordinate together in movement.

Otherwise known as matching yourself alongside the body of the wave.

If you can understand the balance line and seek to follow it, riding becomes more about feel and less about force. The body organically and intuitively orients around the point that seeks to harmonise best with the movement, leaving you free to concentrate on the next best action to take for both of you.


❤️ Jane

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