I have practiced Pilates for many years now after discovering the benefits after a serious riding accident in which I badly damaged the soft tissue in my neck. My body became very stiff and I was carrying a lot of tension because of the inactivity, the feeling was awful as I was only 21 but my body felt much older!
When I got the go ahead to start exercising gently by my consultant, Pilates was suggested as the moves are slow and deliberate and would give me time to listen to my body and move accordingly. After 6 months I was allowed back in the saddle and my riding instructor whom I had had lessons with for a couple of years commented on how much better I was in the saddle, my seat and balance had improved a great deal. Also, as my body was relaxed I felt the horse’s movements much more, my awareness and sensitivity as a rider and handler developed. Since then I have carried on Pilates practice and I feel the benefit enormously.
I now incorporate Pilates into my work with horses both on the ground and ridden. Consciously being aware of my breath both on the ground and in the saddle creates a 2-way relaxation between myself and the horse. In the beginning I was surprised at how effective the breath connection was on the ground as there is no physical connection like in the saddle. Then being aware of your own postures and by moving in self- carriage influences the horse too even on the ground, when you take this into the saddle it feels like magic. Adding in light cues and reward- based training really gives the horse clarity and understanding, taking your communication to the next level.
In the video I am with Elizabeth Lee who is a very experienced Pilates instructor – she also works with the dancers at Birmingham Royal Ballet, keeping them flexible and strong. I have been attending her Pilates workshops here in Spain for a couple of years. Over time Elizabeth and I have discussed dancing with a partner and how we influence each other, which led us to talk about horses and the ways in which we can affect relaxation, posture and ultimately performance with breath work and changes in posture.
With this in mind Elizabeth and I have come to work together offering a relaxing course that will help you become more body and breath aware and help you with your horsemanship. The course will be held at the Connection Training Centre in May 2018, and you can find the full details here: Pilates for Horsemanship Course.
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