Over the past few months we have blogged about how powerful a tool Pilates is for cross training for other sports. It helps you to balance the muscles around your joints, improves your posture and teaches you how to control your movements.
This is especially beneficial for equestrians. We’ve worked with a number of dressage riders over the years, which has been a really interesting experience from an instructor’s point of view. The level of control required to guide the horse through the many complex movements expected in a competitive round is fascinating and is all done between human and horse on a physical basis. It’s very similar to the overall goals we have in Pilates! Every move the rider makes can be construed as an instruction by the horse. So if your inner thigh muscles are tight and grippy, this can lead your horse to think you want him to go faster. Tight shoulders which lead to a tighter grip of the reins can be misconstrued too.
If you improve your body awareness, which is taught as part of your Pilates practice, it can greatly enhance your skill and your comfort during a ride. Pilates can help you deepen your seat, by releasing tight lower backs and hamstrings and improving hip mobility and can also teach you how to release, tight rounded shoulders so you can freely move your arms and hands around a stable body – making it easier for your horse to understand what you want him to do and also allowing you a more comfortable ride.
“I have been attending Steph’s classes for over 2 years. I was experiencing back pain while horse riding and was encouraged to try Pilates. I was told by a physio that I should improve the muscle tone on my back, and strengthen my core, both of which were weakened after years of sitting at a desk and being a professional couch potato. Steph’s classes are always invigorating and challenging and she has a keen eye for detail which helps get the most out of each exercise. Her clear communication style makes it very easy to understand how each exercise is to be performed and what improvements/corrections you can make. The health benefits of attending Steph’s classes are many. My overall strength, stamina and flexibility have greatly improved. My horse riding has benefited also, as I’ve developed a much deeper seat, better balance and a longer, stronger leg”. Ken G