Applied Posture Riding - lowerleh strength riding a horse

  • Core Exercises and Horse Riding

    Core Exercises have become the latest craze for horse riders, and rightly so.

    The core muscles are the key to good posture, good horse riding, good balance, and absolutely for back pain control. Core training exercises are taught by gym trainers, personal trainers, and of course Physiotherapists.  The core muscle is the key to any exercise program. A strong core will give you a Flat Stomach a strong stable back and more energy.

    As a Physiotherapist, I design exercise programs for all of my patients.  Having a strong core is great but how to use it in the saddle requires specific exercises and movement patterns. Many riders have a strong core but don't engage it when riding. Pain is also an inhibitor of the core. If you suffer back pain your core switches off and slowly weakens with time.

    before and after APR

    The core muscle provides stability so all the postural and working muscles, with stability, the body can work, and burn more energy, more efficiently. Stability through the lower back and pelvis puts the body in a better alignment, therefore minimizing stress on the joints. Trauma and injury during or after exercise are less likely to happen.

    Core Exercises

    If pain occurs then the workouts need to be modified, this interrupts the exercise program, pain is most often caused by over-exercising and or exercising in bad postures. A huge number of my patients present with injuries related to exercising and their sport.

    Very few are injured due to a trauma or an accident, most pain results from poor movement patterns during exercising.

     Abdominal exercises for women do not need to be heavy and hard. Women want a flat stomach and a toned small waistline. The old fashion abdominal exercises, like sit-ups, have been proven to be ineffective, too hard, and unsafe, causing stress and strain on the lower back joints. This why women give up and then find it difficult to get back into an exercise regime. I believe it is important to teach women more so than men about the transverse abdominal muscle and how to engage it, then test it, then train it, then use it. 

    Core Exercises for Horse Riders

    All instructors are now recommending their riders strengthen their core to improve their riding. 46There are many Pilates exercises available to everybody and certainly doing any exercises as well as core exercises will help your riding. Any exercises that will increase your general tone and fitness are of value. Many horse riders think they are fit and toned just by riding, in fact, horse riding without doing any other exercises will give you stiffness and usually lower back pain. The least a horse rider should do is stretch.

     However, core exercises are the be all end all for horse riders. A strong core when riding gives the rider stability, control, strength, and precision to perform aids with skill and clarity to the horse. A rider with a weak core is usually bouncing in the saddle has a wobbly lower leg and uses the reins to balance. A weak core causes a rider to stoop forward and be unbalanced. As a rider coach, my specialty is teaching horse riders to ride. I focus on the horse riding muscles and especially the core.

    My programs teach riders everything about the horse riding posture and the core. If you have a passion for your riding I have a passion for teaching you.

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    Good luck and enjoy your riding. If you have any questions or need some advice about core exercises or back pain or posture then contact me.

    Annette Willson

  • How To Ride a Horse. Keeping The Lower Leg Still

    The lower leg is a very difficult body part to train. It wobbles at all paces but can be trained to be stable and still in all paces.

    The lower leg and exercises for the core is the key to good riding and the key to strong safe riding. However, horse riders are not taught HOW to keep the lower leg still. Horse riders are not taught HOW TO use their lower leg correctly. Many are just instructed to "use more lower leg"...well HOW?

    Many horse riding instructors believe it is important to train the seat and concentrate on the seat only. Many believe that riders cannot move on until they do achieve a deep independent seat. Many are recommending core exercises.14934490 horsewoman in uniform at a jumping show

    Sadly many horses riders find the task of gaining a deep seat to confronting and either give up or go from instructor to instructor. The way riders are taught doesn't vary a great deal, though the stirrup length has a lot to do with the correct lower leg position. If it is too long the rider will balance on the reins, as in the photo.

     I believe that training the lower leg in any and every rider is the first skill a rider needs to learn and improve on. It is vital to understand why, though. Humans use their hands and feet to keep their balance not their seat so, when horse riding we do the same. To be able to balance through the lower leg first and feel the movement of the horse's paces a rider can then move on to learn about balance through the seat. Core exercises and a strong core is essential.

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    To rise trot a rider’s weight is transferred from the seat to the stirrups, every beat. When the rider rises at the trot the weight is transferred from the seat to the stirrups, the direction of the force is outward, hence, the rider's legs flap or swing away from the horse's side, at the rising trot. By learning how to control this movement a rider can then control the lower leg position. Core exercises and trunk control are important.

    A deep independent seat can then be the next target.

    When a baby learns to walk they use their arms and hands for balance, riders do the same. A baby will use a couch or a table to balance on. The horse rider will use the reins and the horse’s mouth to balance on. The other difference is the floor doesn’t move and a horse does. Learning to rise trot is a new skill for learners, so going back to basics makes it easy. Humans crouch for maximum stability so why not use this position to teach lower leg stability in the rider. This is explained in detail in the Applied Posture Riding Program

    How To Ride A Horse.

    I use the ball and exercises for the core to simulate the rising trot, when out of the saddle and I train riders to balance using special exercises in the saddle.  As the lower leg becomes stronger and more stable the rider can let go of the neck for extra balance. This is an exercise  I teach riders to do and practice. Once the balance has been established the hands can become useful not used for balance. Practicing this at the walk and the trot and once safe at the canter a rider will feel the amount of weight down through the heel. By training this and concentrating on keeping the leg close to the side of the horse balance will improve.

    The position of the hands and trunk will develop as the lower leg becomes stable. When a rider starts to rise trot they lift up their body and the weight moves from the saddle to the stirrups.  If the stirrups go to low the trunk becomes more upright and stability can be compromised. I believe the trunk does tilt slightly forward in all riders at the rising trot because of this transfer of weight. The center of gravity is always moving hence the trunk will move from upright to tilt forward with the change in movement. I have a series of core exercises and specific movement patterns to train horse riders on how to ride and how to use their core properly, I train riders to ride. I am a rider coach.

    How To Ride A Horse.

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