Strengthen The Upper Body: The Renegade Row
Rowing is a basic mechanic causing the arm to move backward. Elbows can and will move behind the stomach at the fullest range of motion in the pulling/rowing mechanic. To a horse, rowing or pulling is intended to bend and flex the body. A row should be done independently from the core and seat to ensure elasticity in the bend of the horse. You should be strong enough in the upper back to row efficiently, smoothly, and evenly. Strength training will develop muscle sensitivity and allow a rider to give and take during the rowing or pulling mechanic without accidentally applying negative pressure on the horse’s mouth.
When a rowing movement gets stuck, the arm stops moving forward and back. The elbows usually stay in place and will negatively affect the seat and the horse’s self carriage. I see it happen in a basic turn to the inside; a rider’s inside rein stiffens and the inside seat changes immediately. This rowing mechanic goes wrong and the core starts to compensate. Horses can lean into this, stiffening and falling to the inside. The rider’s inside seat needs to reaffirm the horse’s balance, yet the rider’s inside seat is not where it should be. To correct this moment there’s not much the rider can do. The right way to fix the problem is to fix the rowing mechanic that started it all.
The renegade row is a great row exercise that really targets your core as well as your arms and upper body. Start with no weights and as you build your strength you can add 3-5lb weights and more from there.