How to Apply Pilates in Horse Riding

The Use of Pilates in Horse Riding. A variety of KX Pilates Dee Why class that suit you with their world class instructors around it.

It seems everyone has heard of Pilates and very few people actually know what Pilates is.

So what is Pilates?

Pilates was the name of the man who discovered the function of the deep Transverse Abdominal muscle with respect to spinal stability. The exercising of this muscle has been labeled Pilates. The exercising fraternity has picked this up and marketed it as the new wave exercise regime. Gym trainers, personal trainer’s aerobics teachers are all giving Pilates classes.

Unfortunately the true function of this muscle and its bio mechanics is not well understood by many of these people and the teaching of it is not complete. Many people think they are doing Pilates and in fact they are not.

Pilates is the function of the deep core abdominal muscles and simply drawing your tummy in to do an exercise is NOT Pilates.

So how can Pilates be of use to the Horse Rider?

Horse riding is unlike many other sports. The riding posture is a very static posture. Most ball or athletic sports are what we call dynamic, which is, fast moving in many directions. Horse riding requires symmetry and strength from both sides of the body. It requires all the limbs to contribute together and separately. It requires coordination, feel and precision from all body parts. Most sports a one sided using one dominate side repetitively e.g. tennis.Humans are not natural at feeling movement and rhythm through their seat. We mostly feel with our hands. We find it difficult to coordinate left and right together let alone feet and hands and seat together.

When we analyze what is required to ride well we actually understand riding isn’t that easy. The good riders make it appear easy. Why?

What does a good rider have that the other rider doesn’t have?

Well in most cases they have a natural feel for a horse, an inbuilt talent and skill. This can be taught to every rider.

A good rider has a strong upright posture out of the saddle and good deep core stability with flexibility through the lower back and pelvis.

This can be taught to every rider.

A good rider will have a stable strong spine which enables them to achieve good coordination of the limbs and body movements for precise accurate aids.

This can be taught to every rider.

A good rider has endurance and strength in all their posture muscle.

This can be taught to every rider.

A good rider has the ability to use their hands, arms, legs and lower back independently in specific movement patterns, with sitting upright on a moving horse.

This can be taught to every rider.

How can a Horse Rider Learn to Ride Better?

There are many skills a rider can learn off the horse. To establish and practice movement patterns that are similar to the riding movement will teach a rider to ride better.

The absolute most important muscle to train and learn how to engage is the deep core abdominal muscles. A rider can then be taught how to use this power in the saddle. Horse riding requires specific training of movement patterns to gain the maximum functional of the deep core muscles.

This cannot be taught by a gym trainer or aerobics teacher.

Pilates is essential in learning all of the movement patterns required for riding. But learning Pilates and just doing core stability exercises will not improve your riding unless you learn how to use core stability and practice the specific movement patterns.

The walk is a four beat pace; the weight of the rider should be in the seat with some in the stirrups. The body should be upright and the hands forward of the saddle. The pelvis should move up and forward in rhythm with the horses hind legs. Therefore as the left hip of the horse moves forward the riders left hip should roll up and forward the right hip will drop and stay in rhythm with the right hind leg. This is a rolling tilt movement of the pelvis. In order to stay upright and basically appear still the upper body will move in a counter opposite movement. The hands should move forward and backwards in time with the horses head nod. The appearance of all this is the rider is STILL.

This can be taught to every rider.

The walk is the easiest movement pattern to learn and really all that is happening is the rider is in tune with their horse. Why do some find even the walk so difficult? If a rider has a stiff lower back that can not tilt or rotate then the movement will be blocked. If a rider has weak upper back strength the body will wobble or remain stiff. The horse will find a free walk difficult; all sorts of resistance actions come in. The horse will not relax and hold his head high; there may be NO head nod. The hind wont step through, the horse may 2 track or jig or rush etc etc etc. This is only the walk.

If a rider has been taught how to engage test and train the deep core muscles (Pilates) and also learn the walking movement patterns on a big ball then this can be practiced and then applied in the saddle. Once a movement pattern has been established it will come naturally. The trot, both sitting and rising can be trained on the ball, if the trainer knows the correct movement pattern. The sit trot can be taught by learning how to engage the deep core muscles and coordinate the breathing pattern with the two beat foot fall pattern, once learned the breathing pattern can be dropped because the sit trot is established. The canter can be simulated with certain exercises just as easily. Postural strength is a must to improve with the correct advice for riding.

This can be taught to every rider.

Pilates is simply the learning of HOW to initiate, test, train and function with core stability. The use of core stability in horse riding is more complicated than just doing Pilates based exercises.

Being a Physiotherapist and Pilates Teacher and a past elite event competitor I have the skills and knowledge to teach every rider about heir own posture and train them in Pilates Specific for Horse riders My Applied Posture Riding program has been designed to teach riders how to do their own self assessments and then fix them.

This can be taught to every rider.

Annette Willson Author of Applied Posture Riding

I have a Masters Degree in Physiotherapy and I am a Pilates teacher and I am a retired elite competitor. My Applied Posture Riding program is a teaching program specific for horse riders, now available on DVD. If you want to learn more about training your self to ride with skill and confidence then this is the program for you. A good strong core is essential for riding and must be trained out of the saddle. Go to my website and treat yourself as a rider.
Pilates Specific For Horse Riders

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