We all want to be able to ride with applying " invisible" aids. We all dream of total harmony with our horse, no misunderstandings, no bucking, no resistance....
The good new is: we can achieve this! The bad news: it wont happen overnight and we need to do something for it.
We all book riding lessons, trainer advise, buy a better bridle, a better saddle, feed supplements for muscle and joint health, invest in bodywork for the soundness of the horse etc. the list is long what we do for our horses.
How about the list what we do for ourselves?
We are part of the team and we need to look after our own body as well.
Horses notice a tiny fly landing on their body, so what do you think?
Will your horse notice if you have a sore back? Tensed shoulders? looking to the right side because something is distracting you? The answer is: YES it does.
Horses compensate all the the time the " disbalance" of the rider, as no one is born with the perfect body alignment, straightness and body awareness to notice all the time what our arms, legs, shoulders etc are doing or if they are relaxed or not. Nobody is perfect, but we all working on it right?
Example of your horse noticing what your body is doing ( without you noticing it yourself)
Horses can pick up many bodily cue, the smallest one is when you are moving your head. If you turn your head to the left, your body generates automatic reactions so that your whole weight shifts to the left side. Minimal, but it does. that means, you are putting more weight on your left sit bone, have more weight in the left stirrup etc. Your horse will walk under your weight, so it will walk left. You wanted the horse walk straight and have to correct it with the reigns or legs, although your horse just followed the signal of your body. This is just one example of how often misunderstanding between horse and rider happens.
You can try this example when sitting on your chair. It will probably not happen now, because you pay attention that you do not shift your weight to the left when turning your head. And that is the idea about improving your body awareness!!!!
If you are more aware what your body is doing and be present when riding, you can avoid these little misunderstanding.
Simple but very effective.
Better body awareness enables the connection from the riders brain ( body perception) to the horses brain (body perception) and results in performance at its best.
You can achieve that, in working on your own body perception and invest in your health and mobility. Your horse will thank you for it!!!!
From my experience with coaching riders in body awareness it makes a huge difference to the better. Not just improves it the understanding of horse and rider, it results in better performance and more effective riding lessons too.
Try this simple exercise next time you start riding or even at home in your chair:
You sit on your horse and your horse stands still.
You close your eyes ( if safe to do so) and do a little body scan ( means you put your attention in every part of the body bit by bit, starting at your feet), starting with your feet. How are your feet feeling? Is there any pain or discomfort in your feet, ankle, toes? do you notice a difference between your right foot to your left foot?
This is just about scanning your body, not about answering questions or judging it.
You do this bit by bit up to the top of your head.
You can find examples of body scans on YouTube, Spotify or here as an example:
As soon as you pay attention to the areas of your body you are scanning you will relax them. this happens almost automatically as it is the response of your nervous system.
What a good and simple idea ey?
If you want to know more about body awareness, equestrian yoga and Mindfulness for equestrians, please contact me.
I am your coach for Harmony in motion and mindful Horsemanship.
Happy to help you improve your body awareness and riding posture and be more present with your horse.
For healthy horses and a good performance,
Britta Bruns, Invercargill