Have you been inspired by Burghley horse trials to get in the saddle and practice your dressage or jumping skills?
Whether you’re an experienced rider or just starting out, posture is everything when sitting in the saddle. As shown throughout the event, being able to hold an upright and balanced posture can be difficult but is essential for optimal rider control and horse performance. There are many things to consider when maintaining an ideal posture whilst riding such as ensuring that the ear, shoulder, hip and heel of the foot are all in line. This will help to keep the back straight and avoid and slumping which will put strain through the mid-lower back, as well as helping to stay balanced and in control. Allowing the feet to come forward out of line is likely a result of the rider trying to grip their knees together to balance themselves on the horse. This will in fact disturb your centre of gravity causing you to become more tense and rigid and result in your weight to throw forwards, unbalancing the horse. Therefore it is essential that you keep a balanced posture for yourself and for your horse.
There are many ways that we at the Bridgeham clinic can help to improve your posture when riding and in general which may aid overall performance. A supple lower back when riding is important to allow yourself to move freely with the pace of the horse and concentrate on your signals and riding. This is also true for the upper back, any stiffness or tension in these areas will communicate through to the horse and often result in the horse to stiffen, reducing the fluidity of its movement, which is essential for most riding, especially competing.
If you feel you are suffering with any aches and pains or perhaps just stiffness, why not come and see one of our osteopaths or masseuses to get you feeling loose and fluid again and possibly increase the connection to your horse.
As mentioned above sitting balanced on your horse is very important as this can affect the horse’s movement ability, as seen with a few difficult jumps and especially in the dressage of the weekend event. This is sometimes put down as the horse being unbalanced when in fact it is subtle changes in the rider’s posture. However many riders find it very difficult to maintain a ‘perfect posture’ throughout riding even when under strict instruction. This is due to many different reasons, one being that most of our daily activities tend to be one sided, for example if you have a desk based job, you will tend to always use the mouse or turn to the phone on the same side day after day, similarly if you are mucking out, you will tend to shovel and rake in the same position, using the same side. Over time this one sided dominant lifestyle can cause torsions or twist patterns in the body, often affecting the back and pelvis. Pelvic torsions are a common pattern in many people, and can be troublesome for those who ride as it will change how you sit in the saddle and so likely affect how the horse responds on a certain rein. At Bridgeham we offer our osteopathy services where we regularly correct these torsion patterns and should you wish to take on our Pilates services we would be able to stabilise and strengthen the body to avoid the patterns creeping back. You could also try our Functional Movement Screen which will put you through a few simple exercise tests in order to highlight any weaknesses or adaptations in movements, a great way to see which treatment pathway would be best for you!
Should you feel you are healthy and fit but could just use a little posture advice and/or strengthening we can offer our studio Pilates sessions. These sessions will give you one on one instruction on individually tailored exercises to help increase the stability through the back and allow for fluid movement whilst riding. It is of course important, especially with jumping events that you are also flexible through the hips to be able to sit deep in the saddle but still have the power to push the horse up and over the jump. Pilates can help encourage this movement with specific squat techniques and specialised exercises on the reformer as well as many more! These pilates sessions will help you feel stronger in your general posture and especially throughout long rides which will allow you to concentrate on your horse and riding event. Remember a crooked rider cannot correct a crooked horse!
If you feel that you do not want your horse missing out on all the attention why not consider animal osteopathy? A growing profession which looks at the structure and movement of the animal and uses similar principles and treatment as osteopathy for people to ensure the horse is able to function at its best. Have a chat with Briar or Kamilla for more information.