Jul 14

The smart and the silly of science

Riding For Women

Rider-with-Motion-sensors-300x165An article was published recently on ScienceDaily.com titled “Video game technology aids horse rider assessment.” 

The smart of science takes motion sensors used by movie makers and the video games industry, and applies it to horseback riding to assess a riders’ balance, symmetry and poor posture.

The silly is that no rider needs technology to make this assessment because every human being comes equipped with a sensory motor system.  This innate function includes balance and movement (vestibular), and can be accessed at any moment through your awareness.  It is only a matter of choosing to invest your attention to how you are moving.

The other silly is that this technology does not offer a solution to these difficulties so riders stay stuck.  Yet, by virtue of the sensory motor system every rider has the inborn ability to create improvement.  This is accomplished by the rider’s paying attention to subtle differences and creating small shifts of movement – the result is improvement in the rider’s balance, symmetry and posture.

To experience how you can create ease and balance in the saddle I invite you to contact me.

Apr 28

Rider Balance

Riding For Women

Trotting-Away-288x300One of the main concerns I help adult riders with is falling. A very reasonable worry given that the number one fear of our nervous system is falling, and that the number one job of the nervous system is to prevent a fall from happening. This worry is also very reasonable as life experience has made it clear that we are not indestructible. Balance is the sweet spot between gravity and action, the sweet spot between physical, mental and emotional co-existence. Balance is the place of lightness, and is expressed by the horse and rider’s soft expression and calm breathing.

What allows balance to exist?

The answer is the breath that continues unencumbered during physical, mental and emotional activity, and creates calm. What is the tipping point from balance to unbalance? The answer is a disruption or cessation of the breath during physical, mental or emotional activity, and creates tension and anxiety. To begin to free your breath: As you walk your horse notice where you are in your breathing cycle (inhale/exhale) every time his hind right hits the ground. Is it the same place every time? Now, let there be 3 or 4 hind right foot falls for every breathing cycle. Go back a forth from your familiar breathing/movement connection to the new connection. Do this tracking to the right, then to the left, then do this with the left hind, then at the different gaits. Now, let there be 5 or 6 hind right foot falls for every breathing cycle… Spend a few minutes every ride to let your breath be independent of movement to create that sweet spot of balance.

Feb 28

Ride and breathe at the same time

Riding For Women

There are many reasons for the breath to be free while riding.

One is that you stay connected to your parasympathic nervous system - that is where calm lives - so not only will you stay in a good place emotionally, but your horse will sense this and stay calm too.

Another is that breathing keeps your body mobile, as soon as you hold your breath you lock up. So to flow with your horse requires that the breath be free.

Yet what often happens is that riders hold their breath or have their breath locked in to movement, not independent of movement.

Enjoy the awareness exercise below, and each time you ride spend a few minutes with your awareness on breathing, your horse will let you know how it's going🙂

Unmounted: Exploring your breath while moving.

1) Sitting in a flat chair with no arms, notice how you breathe.

2) Shift your weight right and left a few times and notice how you do this, notice where your head goes, and notice how you breathe.

As you do this, allow your lower abdominals to expand as you inhale, and empty as you exhale, and notice how this feels.

Notice the correlation between your breath and your movement, is it a 1:1 relationship, i.e., every time you shift your weight right you are in the same place of the breathing cycle?

For every breath, shift right and left a few times.

3) Rest.

4) Shift your weight right and left a few times and notice how you do this, notice where your head goes, and notice how you breathe.
As you do this, allow your lower abdominals to expand as you inhale, and empty as you exhale, and notice how this feels.

Notice the correlation between your breath and your movement, is it a 1:1 relationship, i.e., every time you shift your weight right you are in the same place of the breathing cycle?

For every breath, shift right and left a few times.
Is it easier now to separate your breath from your movement?

Rest.

Mounted: Exploring your breath in relationship to movement while at a walk, trot or canter.

As you walk straight along the rail:

1) Allow your horse to open & close your hips;
2) Allow one seat bone to become fuller/heavier as your hips open and close;
3) Allow your lower abdominals to expand as you inhale, and empty as you exhale, and notice how this feels.
4) Notice the correlation between your breath and your movement, is it a 1:1 relationship, i.e., every time your right hip opens are you in the same place of the breathing cycle?
5) For every breath, allow the horse to open and close each hip a few times.
6) Rest.
7) As you continue straight along the rail, allow your lower abdominals to expand as you inhale, and empty as you exhale, and notice how this feels.
8) Notice the correlation between your breath and your movement, is it a 1:1 relationship, i.e., every time your left hip opens are you in the same place of the breathing cycle?
9) For every breath, allow the horse to open and close each hip a few times.
10) Rest.

Breathing freely is the heart and soul of riding comfortably and confidently so spending time to improve and integrate it into your riding is time well-spent. Enjoy!

Jan 14

Absorbing the horse's movement

Riding For Women

One of the functions of the back is to absorb movement, and allowing this absorption to happen is the heart and soul of balanced, pain-free riding.

Below is a wonderful clip from 1935 that shows riders floating on their horses and the slinky like spring in their backs that absorbs their horse’s powerful movements.

Spanish Riding School of  Vienna 1935

When a rider has back pain it means there is a place(s) in the spine that is prevented from moving like a slinky spring.

To discover how you can flow with your horse I invite you to visit www.EffortlessRidingSystem.com.

Jan 07

What allows us to ride with joy and confidence instead of grit and determination?

Riding For Women

copywright-expired-history.denverlibrary.org_-300x208You carry out your horse dream no matter what it takes - there is no point talking about your back pain because it is just par for the course. Solutions are sought from pain meds and bandaging, from traditional and alternative therapies, from strength building and even surgery. You may buy different tack and perhaps you may even buy a different horse. At first glance these remedies seem quite different from one another, yet they all have two traits in common:

The first trait they share is that NONE of them gets to the root cause of your pain – each is JUST a band-aid on the pain that keeps you from enjoying your horse to the fullest, and this feeds a vicious cycle - that you have no choice but to tolerate the pain as best as you can, that you have no choice but to suffer in the saddle.

The second trait these remedies share is each is a BIG action, a BIG action that does NOT get to the root of the problem, and worst of all, a BIG action that does NOT empower you to create an easy ride – yet these BIG actions are often thought to be the only solutions available. But nothing could be further from the truth, another possibility does exist and this solution to your pain is found in your most basic human attribute.

In fact, the simplicity of this characteristic belies its power to empower you to create lasting changes to the point that you can forget you ever had the pain in the first place.

What allows you to ride with joy and confidence instead of grit and determination?

The journey comes from a shift in thinking from feeling stuck to daring to strive for a life as you truly wish it to be. This is what riders without back pain understand – they strive for health – they see the function of the back in the context of the rest of the body in movement.

This integral approach allows the overall balance and comfort of the back in action to be at the rider’s command, and it can be yours. To begin the shift ask yourself: What would life be like without back pain? How would you feel leaving your strict, unrelenting back care regime behind you? What would change for you to have your back healed in a way that feels good to you? We were born to move with freedom and ease so begin by allowing yourself to embrace good back health and experience the sheer joy of movement and comfort in the saddle.