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Looking at The Bigger Picture - Rider Bio-mechanics

Monday, September 07, 2015  ‹ Back To Latest News List

In September we are focusing on the bigger picture and taking an overall view of not only our horses' health but also how we as riders affect our horses.

Here is an interesting piece written by Jules la Garde our East Midlands/East Anglia Branch Manager and who is also a rider bio-mechanics and classical dressage coach:

How Rider Bio-mechanics and Absorption of Movement can affect Equine Performance…

Competition riders of all levels are constantly striving for that extra percent, faster time, double clear - so the demands on the modern competition horse grow even greater.

Most riders invest in lessons, coaching, performance products and therapies for their equine sporting partners, in addition to endless hours and dedication, and yet equestrian sport is one of the last to look to science for performance improvement in many respects.

Ask yourself how often you hear a rider ask if they themselves are in ‘self-carriage’?

Are they ‘engaged’ and in ‘perfect balance’?

Many riders spend hours schooling, but what percentage of the time are they focusing on their own potential impact on their horses performance?

Balance issues, changes of the rider’s centre of gravity and lack of absorption of movement from the rider can cause tension in many areas of the horse including the back and ribs. These in turn can restrict stride length, abdominal engagement and the horse’s breathing. Horses are also always finding ways to compensate for rider balance issues, and this can cause imbalances in the use of their own body and ultimately compromise their performance.

Some traditional teaching practices are not commensurate with simple principles of physics required to achieve ultimate rider ‘self carriage’, and yet many riders do not question why they do some things – it is simply just a case of that’s how we have always done it.

Modern day living also has an impact in our own symmetry – driving, mucking out and yard work to name just a few that most riders will do – again, to achieve that perfect dressage test the horse will have to compensate for our asymmetries.

Next time you are at a show – glance round and see how many riders are in shoulder, hip, heel alignment. Observe if this changes in all the paces.

Bio-mechanics is the science that analyses the mechanics of human movement.

When we are on a horse, both living beings are exerting forces on each other which can frequently upset individual centres of gravity and balance.

Bio-mechanics coaches can help in several key areas of equestrian sporting improvement which can help horses and riders at all levels.

-          The analysis of the rider’s absorption of movement and how simple changes can be made to achieve a safe method of dispersing the horses movements without damaging the riders muscular or skeletal structure

-          Straightness and postural alignment

-          How to achieve and maintain the optimal position for your own body proportions and be in ‘self carriage’ – thereby allowing the horse to move to it’s maximum potential without having to compensate or adjust it’s balance

-          Equipment selection – e.g. Assessing correct stirrup bar / saddle in relation to your hip to thigh measurement to achieve optimal balance

I would urge all riders to take some more of their schooling time to consider their own bodies. What if one simple change to your pelvic angle, or better absorption of canter could make you easier for your horse to life and therefore encourage that bigger stride, or that extra bit of elevation?

We should all be proud of tradition, but there is also scope to be excited by science and it’s potential to help equestrian sport in the future.

As part of looking at the bigger picture, we will be offering a 10% discount on any full body scan booked during September so contact your nearest Technician to arrange an appointment.  You can find them in the About Us section of the website. Jules can also be contacted regarding Rider Bio-mechanics and classical dressage training.