For me three reasons dominate: improve your horse, improve your riding, improve your own physical body. Much has been discussed about the first two. Not so much the last one. But for me the last one is huge and I feel fortunate to have a horse in my life that enables me to continually work to improve balance and function even as I get older.
In 1996 I hurt my back, picking something up incorrectly in a twisting, turning motion. The lower left part of my back plagued me until 2012 when it started to heal. Practicing dressage created the healing. I noticed when practicing shoulder in to the right that my horse would not bend and flex uniformly to create the sail like bow. Instead he would pop his shoulder in and flex to the outside. I realized that the energy in my system always routed around the part of my back that hurt – never passing through that section. When I focused attention on that point and caused the energy to route through, my horse would then assume the correction shape in his body. Causing the energy to continually route through the weak part of my back actually healed it! Even today I am amazed by this … the horse acts as a tell-tale for the rider’s body position and energy flow which enables the rider to focus and heal physical weaknesses.
But what about today? My back doesn’t hurt anymore. Still, I think my left lower back is not as strong as my right lower back. And again I was doing lateral work with my new horse. I was frustrated by the fact that she just didn’t want to cross the left rear over and maintain that position. And it dawned on me, that lower left part of my back is loose. It lets her escape from the motion and bring her haunches back in toward the center of the arena. When I tightened the section of my back up, yep, sure enough, she maintained her position.
The preciseness of the exercises, when done correctly, like yoga cause one’s horse to recruit the various muscles of their body thus keeping them both supple and strong. Moreover, for the human, producing the desired result causes us to recruit the correct muscles and maintain for ourselves a the range of motion, in balance, with strength and suppleness.
Enjoy the journey.
Founder – Unbridled Rider