Jules Hardman

Pilates for Horse Riders

To ride effortlessly requires strength, balance and control. To control your horses’ movement you need the ability to move your body correctly and effectively from your pelvis. You also need suppleness to move with your horses’ movement.

So many riders spend countless hours schooling their horses and fixing their imbalances, but don’t look at themselves. Horse and rider are a combination. In order for the two of you to shine you need to start taking care of your own health and fitness as well. When training off the horse, you need to look at your body as a whole. It’s not just about fitness or strength exercises, it’s also about breath, body control and how flexible you are in the right areas.

Looking at the principles of Pilates it is easy to see how these can be adapted to the requirements needed to be an effective and competent rider. Pilates will teach you better body awareness and more control over your body.

Alignment –

Alignment when riding has a huge impact on your horse’s way of going. If your body is misaligned your weight will be heavier either from side to side or front to back with detrimental affect to your horse’s way of going. You need to think of your pelvis, ribcage & head as building blocks which need to be stacked up over one another for correct alignment.  If these boxes are out of alignment your weight will be focused more over one side of the horse.

Breathing –

Breathing the Pilates way, deep and wide into the back of the rib cage helps to increase fresh oxygen into the system and strengthens the abdominals. It is important to learn to breathe properly and to exercise the lungs fully. Learning to breathe properly helps you to remain calm and tension free, thus promoting free flowing movements.

Centring (Core Stability) This is the ability to maintain control of the pelvis, spine, and shoulders. Think of your core stablising muscles like the core of an apple, running through the entire length of our spine, from our pelvis to the centre of our head. When riding you need to be able to go with the movement of your horse, to remain toned & balanced. Engaging your core muscles will help you to absorb the movement and keep good alignment.

So whether you ride for pleasure or have a desire to compete professionally Pilates is a must for all horse riders.