Thursday, September 9, 2010

Poised Posture: Pilates for Horseback Riding

No matter if you ride for pleasure or are a jumper, Pilates will strengthen your core and provide you with better balance to stay on the horse.  Those who ride tend to have tight legs, rounded shoulders, and overall imbalances from weight distribution while riding.  Through the use of Pilates jump riders have better stability in the saddle, Western style riders open more in their chest, and dressage riders learn posture equals a beautifully posed presence for competitions.

Every year my family and I go to Wolf Lake Dude Ranch up north in Michigan and be cowboys for Labor Day weekend.  After over 17 years of riding horses I have had my share of sore muscles and aching core.  It is really a wonderful full body workout and a form of therapy to bond with both the animal and nature.  However, there are some ways Pilates can assist in relieving some of the pain and soreness that comes from long rides.

Balanced Body has a wonderful page dedicated to equestrian focused exercises.  An important one is Single-Leg Stretch to strength your core and lengthen your hips.  Any form of stretching you can do for your hips and thighs such as using a gold band or feet in the loops on the reformer is beneficial.  Mobility exercises such as sitting on a large balance ball doing hip circles, pelvic clock, twist, or side bends will assist with finding your center.  The exercise Horseback done on the box or barrel is a perfect addition to your weekly studio workout.  Exercises that focus on extension such as Reverse Push Through on the cadillac, Triceps dips on the chair, Pulling Straps on the box or Swan will open up those rounded shoulders by strengthening the upper back.  Lastly, any form of posture work is a must for all riders such as Short Box on the reformer, Stomach Massage, Rowing series, or Splits.

I've personally found over the years I have more stability in my pelvis as I switch from a walk to a canter.  Even holding the reins I have the awareness of my lats to keep my chest open.  My body recovers quicker after I ride as the soreness soon fades away.  So get on that horse and ride off into the sunset knowing Pilates can keep you happy in the saddle for a lifetime!  

No comments:

Post a Comment