Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Torturous Lesson (ow ow ow ow)

Typing this post is going to be a serious struggle as my arms are TOTALLY effing shot from my lesson today.  And not because Prairie was pulling my arms off (which would be the expected reason..)

If you've been reading for any length of time you've heard me lament how my hands always get too low and my left wrist breaks and my right hand is always a mysterious two inches  lower than my left.

I don't know why I do what I do, but it just happens.  If you were to blindfold me and tell me to put my hands in the "perfect" position.  They would be low, twisted and uneven and I would be certain that they were even, high and straight. 

Enter the Equicube a horrid torture device my trainer picked up which I was (thankfully) pregnant and not available to be on the wrong end of the device. 

Basically it's a 4.2lb block with handles that makes you hold your hands evenly, above the wither and engage your core. 
(photo from their site)

A few (poor) souls looked at it when it first showed up at the barn and proclaimed that it "wasn't that heavy" and "it couldn't be that bad."

Well I've been in enough weird gym classes (though not in a long time let me assure you..) where the cute perky trainer handed out 2lb weights with a smile and just when I thought I was strong enough and going to ace the class my arms fell off from trying to hold the tiny, pink, mostly plastic "weights" in front of my body.

So four pounds is NO JOKE.  I did not sneer at the Cube.  In fact I figured that if I didn't look at it, maybe N would forget about it and I would never have to use it. 

Sadly not true.

I was assigned the Cube for our lesson today.  The first ten minutes involved me trying to figure out how to have a decent contact when my hands were stuck in one place (apparently I move them around a lot more than I thought).  The next 10 minutes were spent trying to figure out how to use my "abs" (such as they are) to prevent my back from hurting like a mother from the extra weight.
And the third 10 minutes had me feeling rather competent and extremely aware of my core and leg.

And then I died.  I just collapsed and died and my biceps and lower abs were twitching in some sort of fatigued death dance. 


But, sadly for me, I was riding much better post-Cube than pre-Cube.  Which I'm pretty sure means I'll have to deal with future Cube Sessions.

The competitor in me loves the Equicube and thinks everyone should run out and find 4lbs of plastic to cradle while they ride.  But the lazy adult ammy in me hopes that none of your trainers ever discover this thing.  I just discovered that it's of local manufacture, so perhaps awareness/marketing for this thing hasn't traveled too far yet... You can hope anyway :)

Other than the pain, things went well.  Great flat work with Prair, highlighted by really great canter work over cavaletti - which felt like a huge victory.  We finished with a 5 stride line, to a single on a diagonal to a single on the other diagonal.  Things were great.  Prair was patient and soft and when I rode like I was still holding the cube, we stayed balanced and held nice shape to/over/from our fences.

They fences are still tiny 2' things, but I am loving every second of it.  So much of the stress and anxiety (both in myself and the mare) that we used to have over fences is just gone. 

It's lovely.  Really, really, lovely.  And also painful. Really, really painful (for my arms and abs).


  1. I really want to try that! On my own terms, not in a lesson. That way I can get rid of it when I start to die after the first few minutes.

  2. I agree with Jodi. I need something to keep my hands good and engage my core.

  3. Interesting. I would love to give that a try. My trainer always had us ride with a broomstick between our elbows and behind our backs. It worked, but the bruises were not fun. On a side note...the equicube folks should fire their marketing person IMO. That horse looks like it is massively concerned with everything that is going on behind it's ears, and definitely not in a good way. How about a photo of the cube with happy forward or floppy horse ears?

    1. Prair for sure had NO idea what was going on for a few minutes. Also probably didn't help that in an attempt to lower my hands to their "preferred" height, I kept smacking her withers with the Cube. We got to relaxed and floppy once I stopped smacking her and started pushing her into a consistent contact...

      re: broomstick, I HATE that method, not just for the discomfort but I don't think it's helpful in creating a following hand. If anything it makes your hands have to get busy any compensate for a locked back and shoulder. The cube almost does the opposite, it makes you quiet your hand and soften your shoulder and elbow in order to follow the contact.

  4. Sounds fascinating & like something I NEED - but like the others want to play with on my own terms and not in a lesson.
    4lbs for the length of a lesson would be a torture device!
    I hope you feel better tomorrow *hugs*

  5. Sounds like torture but also awesome!

  6. That sounds like a wonderful torture device. Thank you for sharing the horror!

  7. I agree with Renee - my first impression from the photo was one extremely upset horse from the ears to the very worried look in the eye. How did Prair take to the Cube? Did she stay soft and relaxed?

  8. Haha! I love the idea, but it would be so hard that there is just no way I'd do it outside of a really intense lesson.

  9. That is an interesting contraption!

  10. I probably would benefit a lot from the cube. But it's kind of scary.

  11. Fascinating and horrifying! I want one!!

  12. Wow I've never heard of one of these! They sound terrible yet very helpful.

  13. Wow, I've never heard of this either. Sounds very helpful and torturous lol. I'm curious to try it now too. It's kind of expensive to buy just for myself though.... I wonder if I could convince my trainer to get one hehe.

  14. "and then I died"


    Seriosuly though I kind of want to try this but I also really like my bad habits.

  15. Just tried the equicube and OMG what an great experience! it felt really heavy and awkward at first and my horse went around the ring like a giraffe for about 10 minutes. (I was idlily wondering if I could get my money back). BUT THEN IT HAPPENED. I kept incrementally readjusting my body and legs to accommodate the cube when all of a sudden I was involuntarily pulled into some sort of equilibrium where I no longer felt the cube. It felt like I was sucked into my saddle by some weird vortex or giant magnet (similar to that pulling feeling of water going down a drain). My horse's head immediately dropped down onto the bit! I felt connected in a way I had never felt before ... and then a second later that feeling was gone. What the hell??!! I was intrigued and set about trying to recreate the sensation. Through trial and error I was able to slip back into the "equilibrium vortex"'and that's when I noticed i could prolonged the sensation by sitting up straighter. Actually, what I noticed is that it was SO MUCH EASIER TO SIT UP STRAIGHT while I was in the vortex. I became acutely aware that I could simultaneously stretch in two directions - up (by sitting up straighter) and down (by putting my heels down). And it was EFFORTLESS. This is saying a lot because I routinely feel like it is physically impossibly for me to put my shoulders back and sit up straight. Ive never understood what it means to use my core and often wondered if i had a core to use. This crazy device forced me to discover it! It's like my brain didn't know what to tell my body to do to activate my core but then cube forced my core to react! Sort of like if someone throws a ball at your face and your reflexes engage your arm to block it. (The equicube is the ball and engaging my core is the reflex in that scenario.). To be able to finally feel the sensation of my core being used more than makes up for how ridiculous I feel carrying around the cube. Unbelievably, this device actually works if you're willing to wait until your body figures out how to bear the weight. It IS a process of trial and error and I feel somewhat lucky that I happened to stumble onto how to correctly use it. My advice is to keep trying of you don't think it works!


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