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  • Nikki

Pilates? Do we benefit as Horse Riders?

There is an ever-growing number of horse riders that are going to rider specific classes, but will it really help me and what benefits come of it?

In the long and short of it – yes and there are a huge number of benefits from doing rider specific Pilates, not only to you but your horse. As you compete and ride as one team there is often a lot of emphasis on getting the horses training right, but do we forget a little bit about ourselves, the rider? If you think about it, you are also an athlete, not just the horse. Learning to increase or even introduce training into our riding lives could be a minefield if you start looking! Pilates is a great place to start, giving you fundamental strength, control and flexibility for any other type of training that you may introduce.

Rider Pilates enables you to develop your core muscles correctly allowing you to move hips, upper body and arms all separately whilst maintaining a strong and stable core. This is often through exercises that have been adapted specifically for rider needs. This is vital to our riding as many of us keep stable through other means such as gripping with the legs, leading to tight hips and ultimately affecting your seat. Or if we are weak in our core, we often become stiff and ridged in our upper back and shoulders, allowing less movement through the shoulders. As you can imagine your horse will feel this through the reins into the bit! A strong core allows us to have more stability when riding, allowing for a more symmetrical ride.

Developing strength alongside becoming more supple (especially in your hips!) allows you sit deeper into your seat, very beneficial for dressage riders and eventers, giving you a greater contact with your horse through the saddle. You will often find that when you achieve this, your horse softens through their back allowing more movement throughout their limbs and even giving a softer contact through the reins – giving you that better connection you are often striving for!

Throughout classes you will develop an understanding of your body giving you an awareness you can translate to when you are riding. You will soon learn which side is weaker, which side or part of your body is tighter or even unstable. The right instructor will be able to help you understand how this affects the horse and give you guidance on how to overcome and improve it.

As you can see there are a huge number of benefits (and I have only touched the surface here) not only to you but as a combination. Is it time to find the nearest Rider Pilates near you?

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