Remember the days as a kid when it was common for a friend to hop on your back for a goofy “piggy back ride”?
There was always that one person whose knees would dig into your back, or who would just jar against your shoulders in the way they sat. If we are unbalanced in our bodies, this could be how our horse feels, even through the saddle.
This article is written with the aim of finding balance to improve your riding and, ultimately for the health and happiness of your horse.
As we talk about the health benefits you will gain as a rider, keep in mind that our ultimate focus is giving our horses the best experience possible - which includes a rider with a comfortable seat- not to mention a well rested and vibrant disposition!
To make this simple yet effective, we have examined the qualities and ailments that riders tend to have. We have then complied this list of therapeutic exercises inspired by yoga postures to alleviate issues and bring the body into balance.
These exercises can also be applied to better performance, which ultimately prevent injury and make you a better rider.
Here we outline postures that will benefit riders, specifically focusing on hip health. To help you understand what we mean by “hip health” think of our bones as a set of sticks bound together by rubber bands. Too much tension could pull the bones out of place or cause damage, while not enough stability leaves them susceptible to damage from the outside or to slipping too easily out of place.
When it comes to caring for our bodies, health is about finding balance, in the hips specifically this is mainly a balance between strength and mobility in the muscles and attachments of the pelvis and upper leg. We want to stress the importance of moderation, emphasizing that both too much tension as well as too much mobility can be an issue.
Believe it or not, many issues you may not consider actually stem from misbalance in the hips. These may be but are not limited to lower back pain, anxiety and even poor sleep. Specific rider issues could be a lack of connection with your inner thigh, misbalance with weighting your stirrups or seat bones in the saddle, or even result in the confusion of aids for your horse due to lack of control and precision in your movements. The mental benefits are also important, as we want to avoid riding while anxious, tired, or in pain.
These yoga inspired exercises will focus on common equestrian misbalances including tight adductors (think those inner thigh muscles that help you grip the horse) as well as IT band and hamstrings and a number of conditions that cause lower back pain.
Go ahead and read on and follow along with our videos, as we talk you through our choice of the best yoga inspired exercises that equestrian athletes should be doing for optimal hip wellness!