Fit to Ride: Un-tooching your booty
If you watch America’s Next Top Model, you may be familiar with the Tyra Banks-coined term “bootie tooch.” Biz Stamm explains why it won’t do your in-the-saddle fierceness any favors.
Hey, Horse Nation. I have something I need to admit to you. I love to watch America’s Next Top Model. I love the awesome clothes, great locations, and artistic photo shoots. What?! That’s a load of BS you say? Yeah. You’re right. I really just enjoy watching beautiful people act like complete idiots. Anyway, those of you who watch the show will be familiar with the “booty tooch.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a booty tooch involves tilting your pelvis forward, creating a little extra arch in your low back and accentuating your money maker. Here, Tyra Banks shows Jimmy Fallon how it’s done.
Some of us ladies are born with a natural tooch. I am one of those people. X-rays showed that my pelvis was tilted a whopping 61 degrees forward! Women do tend to have a natural tilt to their pelvis, but I was way beyond normal. Unfortunately I make my living in the saddle and not looking fierce in front of the flash bulbs. Unlike in the modeling world, a tooched booty in saddle can be quite problematic. It can make it difficult to achieve a deep and fluid seat. Also, attempting to sit the trot with an overly forward-angled pelvis is a sure recipe for both human and equine back pain.
After acknowledging my tooch, I immediately went about correcting it and will now share my process in hopes that I can help those others who are similarly afflicted.
I started off by stretching my low back. One of my favorite stretches for the low back and glutes involves sitting cross-legged, and then extending the arms and upper body forward. Aside from being incredibly effective, this stretch is comfortable enough to hold for long periods of time making it an ideal position for meditation or visualization exercises.
I then went on to strengthen my lower abdominals in an attempt to correct the tilt of my pelvis. Leg lifts are great for increasing lower abdominal strength. Lay on the floor and place your hands under your butt to keep your back from arching. Then raise your legs about two feet off the ground. Lower your legs until they are an inch or two from the ground. Hold for fives seconds, and repeat.
Lastly, to avoid going from riding with an arched, hollow back to riding with a rounded back, it is important to strengthen your mid-back and shoulders. You can do this by performing a variation of the “superman” exercise. Lay on your belly with your arms extended in front of you. Raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Then alternately lift diagonal arm and leg pairs. Think of trotting, but you know, on your belly.
Because of my conformation, I will always have to be aware that a lack of vigilance could easily cause my position to revert back to complete toochitude, but for now, these exercises have really helped me reshape my seat.
Biz Stamm is the 29 year old trainer and instructor of Stamm Sport Horse, LLC, specializing in pure dressage, as well applied dressage for riders involved with other disciplines. Originally haling from Hudson, NH, She is now living in Corvallis, OR. Biz started riding lessons at the age of 6 years old when the Dr. recommended that it may help with her bad balance and lack of coordination. While she is fairly coordinated and balanced on a horse these days, she is still somewhat of a mess on her own two feet.
Biz currently owns two horses: her lesson horse, Kalvin, a 7 year old half-Arabian gelding…
… and her personal horse, Alpha Helix, a 2 year old Kiger mustang gelding. Biz has had Helix since the day he was weaned, and considers him her “heart” horse.
Biz is also the proud owner (more like ownee!) of a 5 year old standard rex bunny named Pi Rex Rufuse (Get it!? Pi r-squared!!!). Biz has always wanted to have some sort of mini horse to live in the house, and since the current landlords won’s allow any kind of equine on the property, Biz opted for a rabbit, which evolutionarily speaking, is very closely related to the horse.
After getting a Masters degree in Plant Pathology, and pursuing a career in the scientific world, it became clear to her that she was only truly happy when she was interacting with, or talking about horses (and sometimes rabbits). Now that she is riding full time, Biz still keeps her scientific training close at hand, focusing on correct biomechanics and physics involved in riding.
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