Applied Posture Riding - horseback riding biomechanics

  • Applying Biomechanics To The Horse Rider 2

    Part 2   

    If you have not read Part 1 starts here

    The training of the horse to go long and low requires "eccentric muscle work". This is opposite to "concentric work".An example of concentric work is, lifting a bucket of water off the ground, or getting out of a chair or walking up a hill. All these movements are into resistance. Examples of eccentric work are putting a bucket down, walking down a hill slowly, sitting down in a chair without flopping. The jumping posture requires eccentric work and can be trained on the flat.

    Any movement that requires your muscles to control the movement into the resistance. If you are in a tug of war, pulling the rope in is concentric work letting it out is eccentric work.  Stretching long and low is eccentric work. The building of a top-line requires the horse to stretch his head and neck towards to ground, (eccentric work).To do this he must be allowed to and taught to do it. This is the action that builds the tone strength and bulk along the back and neck-line.

    The rider must be balanced with a stable lower leg to allow the horse to perform this movement.  If the rider is not balanced then he will use the reins and inhibit the horse from stretching lower. The rider must be able to have a light seat as well, so the horse can use his back without the rider driving into it. We want symmetry in our training so yet again the rider must ride with equal weight distribution in both directions or the horse will become, or stay "one-sided".

    This is often demonstrated as a bridle lameness. When investigating lameness in a horse a vet does not necessarily know about the influence a rider has on the lameness. It may be worth getting an opinion from a respected trainer or coach, especially if the vet finds no clinical reasoning for the lameness.

    The importance of understanding the biomechanics of both the horse and rider can save many dollars and many hours of frustration. Arena work, as well as hill work, is great for eccentric muscle training. For the rider, the Applied Posture Riding exercises are a must. It takes time and patience to build up muscles.

    Skeletal Structure and Muscle Structure.

    Confirmation is the size and shape of the bones and this can’t change much,(skeletal structure). Posture is how the bones are held together and how they are supported and how they are moved by the muscles, ligaments, and tendons (muscular structure). Soft tissues can be changed. So the horse's muscle shape and strength and control are changeable as is the riders. Bad confirmation can't be changed totally, but it can be controlled and managed. Poor confirmation in the legs can be managed with correct shoeing.

    A bad posture in a horse and a rider can be changed. For example, a horse with a U neck (upside down necks which are more heavily muscled underneath) can be trained to reverse this posture.before and after APR A rider with round shoulders can be trained to be tall and upright.

    It is important to know your horses' past. Has he raced, has been badly handled, has been badly trained, and what is his breed? The thoroughbred has a different brain to the stock horse.

    It can be due to emotions the horses are carrying, for example, negative emotions like fear, or anxiety, anger, depression, etc. In a person who is stressed, fearful, and anxious you might see a contracted chest, tight muscles, and a tight jaw, round shoulders, and a stooped posture. Similarly, you can see these same patterns in horses, and of course, these tension patterns extend on all throughout the body. Poor posture could be the result of an accident or injury or due to pain or discomfort, for example, sore feet, or it could be from badly fitting saddles and poor riding.

    How do we change these Postures?

    As I have said it is important to have knowledge. I believe the rider is the first point of change. A rider can identify their own strengths and DSC 0087websizeweaknesses by following my Applied Posture Riding program. Only when a rider is able to balance through their core and lower leg will they be able to ride in balance with their horse. A balanced rider will be able to sit light and get off their horses back and allow it to develop.

    A balanced rider will be able to keep their weight centered and symmetrical as the horse grows bulk and length. A balanced rider will not pull on the reins. A balanced rider will feel the movement under them. When horses are ridden in better biomechanical balance their postures can start to change. Although in some cases horses need extra help with bodywork to make these changes.

    Massage, special stretches from the ground, showing the horse what you want is needed sometimes. A good saddle fit is very important. Knowledge in all areas is a must to have the best outcome.

    Good luck and enjoy your riding Annette Willson Applying Biomechanics Of The Horse And The Rider Part 2

  • Training The Horse Rider To Ride, Train and Compete

    Rider Biomechanics is a growing industry.

    There is new research out all the time to prove that training your core and your riding muscles has a significant effect on your riding and on your horse.  It has been proven that unmounted, correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to be a better rider than any Pilates class or repetitive exercises you have been given by a personal trainer. You will have changes immediately and then build your skills. Once your posture has been reset you can apply this in the saddle.

    When you have established your new posture with symmetry, core strength, and function your horse will also become balanced and can enjoy being ridden. The fighting will stop and the fun will begin.

    You cannot fix your posture in the saddle, it has to be trained out of the saddle. By training your core and fixing your muscle imbalances out of the saddle you will correct your own little habitual muscle problems.

    • you will stop confusing your horse and blocking him with your asymmetry's
    • you will be able to sit upright and engage your seat effectively
    • you will be able to apply your lower leg with consistent correct aids
    • you will stop using the reins for balance and allow your horse to move forward
    • jumping will become fun and safe as you stay with your horse over fences 

    None of this will happen unless you identify your own muscle imbalances, your own weak areas, your own areas of stiffness, and your own habits. Yes, we all have habits to be reset. Injury has a huge effect on your riding as does having a baby or just having a break from riding to live your life.

    Riders need a new way of training, but it needs to be correct training. Elite riders already do this, naturally.

    Unmounted correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to use the riding muscles as an elite rider does. By training using Movement Patterns rather than exercises, you will have more efficient use of your time to gain success.   You will have changes immediately and then build your skills.

    The Core is the Basic Training For All Riders.  Dressage is the Basic Training For All Horses.

    • Do you know if you have a weak core?  Yes! Do you know how to test it? No!
    • Do you suffer from lower back pain and been told to quit riding? Yes!
    • Do you know how to train yourself for riding? No!

    Correct Testing of all your muscles and then applying the correct movement patterns is what you need. Many riders are doing floor exercises and attending classes and still not changing their riding! Why? 

    • Exercises are not enough!
    • You need to have a starting point
    • You need to know your own  muscle imbalances
    • You need to know your own areas of weakness and stiffness
    • You need to know just how dominant or one-sided you are with your posture

    You will have habits and resting posture that affects your riding.

    Do you know what they are?

    You will have micro muscle injuries due to working with horses and from your daily living activities, do you know your shoulder will be developing an inflammatory condition as you use it in a repetitive way.

    All of these problems need to be identified, self-tested, and then fixed.

    My name is Annette Wilson I am a Physiotherapist, I am a retired elite rider and Rider Biomechanics and Posture Training is my specialty. My program Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is a complete program to train the rider for riding and for a better way of living. Applied Posture Riding is all about YOU the rider. This is not a program for your horse it is all about the rider.

     Applied Posture Riding is a complete program to self-test and self-fix your riding posture.  

       Apr photo AMWThis Unique program will teach you the fundamentals of the riding posture. Most importantly how to test your muscles prior to starting, how to strengthen, train, and use your core in daily life and in the saddle. This program will teach you how to train balance and coordination. This program will teach you how to stretch and have symmetry and independent isolation of all your riding muscles and aids. The movement patterns are the secret to this program. Designed by an elite rider with musculoskeletal education.

    The rider here (left) has lost her lower leg balance. This has caused her toes to push down, her foot to slide deeper into the stirrup and her body to tilt forward. In this case, we are using a neck strap to stop the horse from being gobbed and started balance exercises out of the saddle as well as in the saddle. A gym program or a Pilates workout will get you fit, but what about riding skills and riding principles?

    Balance is an assumed skill. Do you know your balance is good?

    Balance is lost due to injury, age, stress, loss of power, reflexes, and many other physiological reasons. Many riders do not even know their balance is poor until their horse starts to react to their riding. Balance for riding is a  learned skill, it is tested with a very simple test and then trained to apply various exercises.

    Balance requires strength and synchronization of all your postural muscles. Being able to ride the canter and the sitting trot requires a good balance.

    A strong functional core, as well as a supple, flexible, pelvis, and lower back, are key skills for good balance. Riding with an independent seat is only achieved once a rider has stability through the lower leg and core and then training for good balance. Riding with an independent seat is only achieved once a rider has achieved skills in balance,  suppleness, and stability through the core and the lower leg.

    Training balance, your core, and become supple and flexible are just three of the many objectives you will achieve following my Applied Posture Riding Membership Program.

    These are essential for the injured rider as well as the weak rider.   Your posture and riding skills all start out of the saddle. Every rider has their own issues...even elite riders.  Stiffness, weakness lack of stability, injury, pain, and age-related changes all affect how we ride and all can be fixed. Your horse has to work through the same problems, so why not you.

    Now more questions. 

    1. Does your lower leg swing out when you rise trot?  This is easily fixed with a simple movement pattern.

    2. Do you drop one shoulder when you apply a canter aid? You won't once you know how to apply your core and lower leg in sync with each other.

    3. Have you been injured? The Injured rider has many more problems to address. Returning to riding after injury requires professional advice and a specific training program. You can ride again if you follow sensible advice and exercises.

    4. Have you ever suffered from a back injury or had a baby or had your shoulder ripped apart from a fall or a horse trauma? As a Physiotherapist and Horse Rider consultant, I treat and prescribe rehab exercises and support riders through their return to riding.

    Isn't It Time To Focus On You.....The Rider??

     You can train yourself to be a better rider if you know HOW.  I suggest you spend a small amount of time learning about the horse riding posture, the skills required, and then learn about you and your body. Learn how to test yourself for stiffness, weakness, balance, and independent movement patterns (in your own home) and then learn how to fix your problems...It is really quite easy!

     Progress in learning specific strength training exercises for your core, your back, and your lower leg, and your riding will improve even further. Move onto the advanced training exercises and learn how to apply your training in the saddle...The strength, balance, and symmetry you achieve will be evident in your riding skills. The outcome is your horse will break his habits of stiffness, weakness, and be able to move with suppleness and rhythm. If you are a good rider can ride any horse if you are a poor rider you will ruin every horse!.

    It is all about the riders' skills and ability to apply independently balanced limb and seat aids.

    If you have any questions contact Annette Willson. We all have the same passion. Applied Posture Riding Membership Program is unique and every rider following it has been successful.

     

  • Unmounted Rider Training

    Training out of the saddle is slowly becoming popular with the Horse Rider. Pilates for Horse Riders, Core Strength Training for Horse riders are the type courses popping up all over the world. Many of these courses seem to be very successful ( I have not done them, therefore I do not comment on content). My course "Applied Posture Riding" is also very successful. 

    So Why Train The Rider Unmounted?

    Let us look at the paces of the horse and examine what is required of the rider. The walk and the trot are what I call symmetrical paces. The canter is an asymmetrical pace.

    DSC 0005websizeThe walk is four-beat and the horse's footfall is even and equal in stride length and at push-off. The horse will also have a head nod to assist balance and power through the hindquarters.  The riders will have equal weight on both seat bones, equal weight through both heels, and as the rider's hips move with the horse's hindquarters stepping, the rider's shoulders have a counter-movement to stay in rhythm with the horses' movement. Therefore it is a symmetrical pace. 

     The trot is a two-beat pace. The diagonal footfalls also strike the ground opposite but equalclinics in stride length and push off. The rider can count one-two, one-two in time with the footfalls. The rider will have equal weight through their seat bones, have equal weight through their heels, and have a centered line of vertical balance.

    The rider will rise with symmetrical weight and movement and do the same in the sitting trot. The rider needs to be balanced through their lower leg and not through their hands. The unbalanced rider will swing through the lower leg and or use their hands for stability. The trot is a symmetrical pace.

    photo canter 2The canter is a three-beat pace. The footfall is asymmetrical. The three-beat movement is not symmetrical, the footfall has a diagonal component and therefore requires the rider to control a rotational movement that is not symmetrical. The canter is a very comfortable pace to ride and the rider should maintain equal weight through the seat bones and the heels, but because the horse has more elevation through the hindquarters than at the walk or the trot the rider is often pushed forward and hence loses contact in the saddle.

    Galloping and jumping are not addressed in this article, but the same principles apply.

     So Why Train The Rider Unmounted?

    Every sports person will train away from the competition arena. Riders certainly do the same. But, riders tend to do hours of the same. Dressage training in circles on an arena, having riding lessons over and over again. I even know of riders who only ride when an instructor is in their area once every two months. Progress can be slow when the focus is only on the horse and not on the rider.

    Dressage training starts with the basics, forward movement, equal stepping, pushing through from the hindquarters and balanced. The horse is trained to be flexible both laterally and longitudinally. The horse is trained to use his hindquarters and be soft and balanced in front. The horse is trained to move away from pressure and be sharp with their response. The horse is trained in the basics before advanced training starts.  So why doesn't it happen as easily as it sounds?

    212The rider is the team player that needs to train themselves first. The rider often neglects to train themselves in the basics. The rider needs to be flexible in all body parts but especially through the pelvis and lower back. The rider needs to have a strong core to maintain stability through the spine so the can apply aids with independent isolation. The rider needs to have ambidextrous skills in strength and efficiency. The rider needs endurance, coordination, synchronization in all postural as well as dynamic muscles. The rider needs to manage pain from injury or muscle soreness.

     When a rider is strong through the core and understands functional core stability they will be a better rider. Add flexibility, endurance, postural awareness, and strength then the rider will have much more success training their horse. Learning independent isolation of riding movements will allow a rider to apply correct movement patterns in both their training and competition riding. The horse responds to repeat aids, so it is up to the rider to apply the aid the same every time. The unbalanced rider will not do this.

    Training unmounted has huge advantages over just training mounted. My Applied Posture Riding Membership Programwill train you to train yourself. If you want to chat about your riding, contact me, I love this topic.

    Blame yourself before you blame your horse.

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