Move your Hips

I saw a study this week using gym balls that showed the ability to move the pelvis on the ball correlates to moving the pelvis on the horse and facilitates better riding. As opposed to the ability to remain static on a ball which did not facilitate better riding. 

I use both modalities of movement and static work on gym balls with clients as I am training different things with each. 

An important element of good riding is stability. Amongst other things stability can be described as the ability to demonstrate mobility under load. 

An unstable pelvis often appears stiff or tight on a horse as the horse is now the load. As mentioned stability allows the mobility so we both to move with our horse well.

Back to moving the pelvis on those gym balls though. Just being able to move the seat bones independently, or slide forward, back and side to side is much trickier than might first appear. If you try this you might notice one side is easier than the other, perhaps you can’t move symmetrically left to right or even stay balanced with your feet on the floor when you move one hip. 

If you’re struggling on the floor on a ball, what do you think happens when you give an aid with your seat on your horse? You may not notice the instability as acutely on your horse as on your gym ball -as in you may not fall off the side! However you may be unbalancing your horse as he compensates for you and your aid will be unclear or indeed lost as your pelvis moves to re-establish stability. 

I recommend a gym ball as a simple yet very effective way for riders to improve their performance. So dig yours out and get it pumped up!

Start with these simple exercises.

  • Slide the ball forward and back.
  • Slide it from side to side.

What happens to your hip bones? 

What about the rest of body?

Did you manage to stay on the ball…….

Now try this.

  • Push the button. Imagine there are buttons just in front of your knees and slide your knees individually forward to push the button. 

Again, what happens to your hip bones? Do they move symmetrically? How’s your balance and control? 

Let me know if you try these out and what you find!


Fit for the Season

So it looks there may be some sort of competition season on the horizon. 

Which means some of you have to start getting your horses fit. 

Now I don’t think for a second that means you’ll all go out galloping straight away. You will slowly start to increase his workload, build a solid foundation of strength and endurance in him before you begin the serious competition training. 

However what I see so often with riders is immediately going full throttle with their own fitness 5-6 days a week hiit workouts, running etc whilst still trying to fit in the riding. They end up worn out, frustrated that their riding isn’t improving and worst case injured. 

Why do we treat our own bodies with so much less respect than our horses bodies? 

If you’re starting to think about getting yourself in shape for the competition season give it the same well thought approach as you would your horse.

Start slowly, work on building a well balanced, strong foundation. Build up your endurance in steady increments.Take your time with building that foundation. If you build it well at the start it’s harder to break further down the line. 

Focus on building a strong foundation that will survive a full season intact rather than focusing on peak fitness for the first event. 

A coach can help you with the exercises that will build that foundation to improve your riding so you aren’t wearing yourself out on things that don’t give you the most bang for your buck. They can help you identify your weaknesses that may be affecting your riding so you can address them and improve your performance.They can also help you with planning and periodisation around your competition season to ensure you reach each one in tip top condition.

I’m currently working with clients 121 outdoors and online for those further afield so send me a message if you would like some help with being as fit as your horse this season.


There’s more than one way to get riding fit

There are various opinions on strength training for riders and whether it's necessary etc.

As you'll probably know if you're a follower of mine I'm very much a fan of weight lifting and resistance training and use it with my clients in order to improve their performance.

However that isn't to say I don't believe other forms of training aren't effective. I also use Equipilates and Sports Yoga in classes and with online clients so I definitely feel like they have potential to improve performance too.

Being strong enough to ride is not a set in stone number of weight required to lift.

Strength for riding relates to being strong enough to be in control of your own body when it's on a horse. We need to remain balanced and co-ordinated to give clear aids.

Our bodies are individual as are our horses and what we are trying to achieve with them.

I'm hypermobile so my body is pretty wobbly just on the ground, add to that I've been predominantly riding baby or weaker horses recently means I need to be extra strong to try and remain in control of all of that.

However someone with a much more naturally stable body may not find they need to work so hard to stay in control of their limbs.

Perhaps it's just a fine tuning you require, work on asymmetries and patterning. Pilates may well do that for you.

If it's your mobility and body awareness that's an issue Sports Yoga could help you with that.

Our aim for rider fitness should be mobility, stability and body awareness that then is ingrained enough to maintain under load - i.e on a horse. How you achieve that is actually up to you.



What’s your learning style?

I listened to something the other day that talked about training by feel, as in you shouldn’t need a mirror to exercise with etc as you should be able to feel what your body is doing.

Whilst I get the principle I have to say I disagree. 

Whenever I see someone performing an exercise and they aren’t quite lined up right or using the correct muscles they often have no idea that they are doing it wrong. I also may find when I ask them to correct it they have no idea how. They can’t send a message to the brain to get their body to move like that. 

If they could they’d already be doing it right? 

Also if they have no idea how to get their body to do it they have no idea how it feels? 

This plays into how we learn as individuals. Some people learn by listening, others by watching or by doing. 

So, if you’re struggling with something in your own body when you ride and you can’t figure out what you are or aren’t doing try a different way of tackling it. 

The reason my training has great results 121 is that I’m there to spot movement patterns that may be a little off kilter for riding and help people address them. 

This won’t be the same technique for everyone. 

Some people can be told what’s wrong and fix it, others need to see themselves do it and then work from there. For some people they might need help getting into that position. For all of those scenarios the person needs help to find what right feels like. They couldn’t get there on their own. 

If you’re having trouble trying to fix a movement pattern that affects your riding, try considering how you learn best. 

Do you need to video it and see it?

Do you need to try things out in front of the mirror so you can see what happens when you adjust?

Do you need something that gives you feedback-like a trainer or going through movements on a gym ball/wobble board etc? 

Or maybe a combination of the above? 

How do you think you learn best?