Horse riding is a great form of exercise as it promotes good posture, tones the legs and strengthens the abdominals.
Most injuries associated with horse riding arise from falling off a horse or during stable duties, such as mucking out. Around eighty percent of horse related injuries occur while riding. These injuries respond particularly well to Pilates, as the practice improves basic skills such as balance and postural awareness.
These help to reduce the risk of falling. Pilates/Yoga Horse Riding Programme can also help increase your spatial awareness, which means you’ll be able to act quickly when faced with the unpredictability of your horse.
Few sports parallel each other the way riding and Yoga/Pilates do. The ‘stillness in motion’ of Yoga/Pilates equals the ‘effortless effort’ of riding. What we learn in the Yoga/Pilates studio can easily be transferred to the saddle. Balance is the biggest key to riding. Our horses feel and react to every move we make when we ride them, however subtle. Yoga/Pilates teaches us how to recognize the unbalanced errors and correct them before we get on the horse.
This bareback riding technique is more comfortable for horse and rider and creates a softer contact point for the horse’s dorsal muscles. Softening the seat allows the horse’s back muscles to stretch and lower his head. Strengthening the rider’s balance helps her initiate the horse’s movements. Founder Cathy Reynolds explains:
Balance is the biggest key to riding. Our horse’s feel every move we make when we are astride, and react to every unbalanced move however subtle. Yoga teaches us how to recognize the unbalanced errors and correct them before we get on the horse. With body awareness and balance we can clearly see where our weight is shifting and understand what our horse is feeling. These subtleties are affecting our horse’s confidence and behavior. How can we expect him to trust a person to guide him if he (the rider) can’t even manage his own weight? A balanced confident rider creates a balanced confident horse.
Not all of us are born riders, as Waldemar Seunig, author of Horsemanship suggests, endowed with “certain physical and psychological qualities at birth”. Therefore, overcoming the difficulties in obtaining the basic position of a balanced seat requires a conscious effort. Yoga has begun to back up dressage riders by encouraging them to supple, strengthen, and balance their own bodies, to become better riders. But, hatha yoga and its relationship to dressage come together in many other ways.