When you have learned off your horse how your hips and mid-section coordinate you transfer this learning, this improvement, right into the saddle.

Do you ever feel stiff and uncoordinated in your riding?  Maybe you know what you want your body to do, but you can’t get it to do it.  You may be told what to do and find it one time, but you can’t find it again.

The reason why this happens is body awareness. What I mean by that is proprioception, moving with precision and ease.  When these components come together it means you ride with coordination, strength and mobility.  It means being aware of different parts of your body and being able to move all.

This is essential for riding because riding is all about movement. Body awareness means you are aware of some of your body parts more than others, for example, you may be very aware of your hands.  But, unless you do body awareness activities you lose track of your other parts, for instance, your mid-section.

This state brings so much trouble to your riding because riding takes so much awareness of hips, ribs… your whole mid-section…Yet, body awareness can easily improve so you become aware of the parts you use more often, and those less so.

The reason this is vital to riding is there are physical, observable changes in your brain when you begin to use a new body part. And here’s the thing, these changes in your brain are the difference between happily progressing in your riding or staying stuck. For instance, you make a change in yourself, but the moment your attention goes elsewhere you go right back to the way you were riding before.

This is why some riders become better, they can understand riding instructions, can do what is asked, get the feeling of it, and remember that feeling – the result is they finish every ride with a sense of accomplishment.

To develop body awareness what is needed is slow, deliberate and MINDFUL movement.  You explore new and different ways of moving, you use different parts of your body that you don’t normally use in your daily life and activities. This leads to the idea of learning how to learn.  As you get better at acquiring new movement, new motor skills, you are able to transfer them right into the saddle.

An Easy Movement Exercise

  • While you are sitting on a chair notice if you are sitting more on one buttock than the other, what creates this difference? Is this how you sit on your horse?

  • Now, let one buttock sink more deeply into your chair, what shifts do you have to make to do this? What happens in your torso, head and neck?

  • Slowly move back and forth a few times between your original and deeper seat. Notice what you do to create these changes. Is there participation in your lower back and ribs?

  • Rest. Notice how you are sitting now. Is one side resting more fully and deeply into your chair?

  • Repeat this sequence with the other buttock.

  • Next time you ride, explore these movements while on your horse and see how centered and calm you feel in the saddle, and what your horse has to say about it. Taking a few minutes to visit these small movements before each ride will make a big difference to your seat.

Body awareness is what I bring to my fellow riders so that you and your horse can love each and every ride together.

Heather teaches women riders to create ease and flow in their bodies and riding.  Trained as a Feldenkrais® movement teacher, her online classes have guided hundreds of riders around the world to become quiet, calm, effective riders so they can enjoy each and every ride. Heather’s mission is to help you create the life you want with your horse…a life that you  deserve. Visit Heather’s website, Riding for Women, for more information.