Why Are Exercises Valuable?

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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.

Stephanie Boyles
Founder – Unbridled Rider

About the Author

Stephanie Boyles

“Where’s the horse?” These were certainly the first words out of my mouth. The happiest day of my childhood life was when I got my first horse Lucky. I think Lucky threw me almost every time I rode him … he was a bit ticklish around the flanks. At that time getting immediately back up and back on was right up there with fortitude - courage, bravery, resilience, mettle, moral fiber, strength of character, strong-mindedness, backbone, spirit, and grit all wrapped in one. Horses were not only an amazingly beautiful animal, they gave a small girl power. Horses gave me an opportunity be my best self. So why Unbridled Rider and the mobile apps? After college (math major) telecommunications became my career. When I finally left the corporate world I wanted to start a business that used mobile technology to help equestrians improve their horses and improve their riding. I loved Dressage and decided it would really be terrific to turn what I considered the most usefull book in Dressage, “101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider” by world-renown author, rider, trainer, and coach Jec Aristotle Ballou into a mobile app. That way people who wanted to work on the exercises would not have to bring the book with them to the barn because they would have all the exercises on their phone. I contacted Jec. She called back and said she was interested and we worked with top class publisher Storey Publishing and Boulder Tech Startup mobileXware to develop and produce the mobile application “101 Dressage.” In its first year, sales came in from over 40 countries and it was consistently rated in the top 200 mobile apps in the Sports Category. The 101 Dressage Mobile app was followed by development and release of three more equestrian-oriented mobile apps – 101 Western Dressage, 101 Schooling and 101 Jumping and the apps have sold in 160 countries. More apps are to come. Having the mobile apps in the market led to the creation of Embrazio, a high end leather accessories business co-founded with Scott Schaefer. Embrazio’s first product, The Classico, was a very cool way for riders to wear their cellphones when they ride. Although Embrazio now focuses on bringing fashion, function and feel together into sumptuous leather accessories, it continues to appeal to equestrians who love leather and demand excellence in functionality. Embrazio’s curved leather belts have particularly appealed to equestrians as they fit so well no matter how one moves when riding. Today my love for horses is just as strong as when I was a child. Horses still give me an opportunity to be my best self. My relationship with horses is much more nuanced, being as soft and balanced as possible and having that incredible partner for adventure, partner for dance, partner for learning. (Like Yoga, practicing the exercises themselves cause one and one’s horse to improve.) I currently co-own a 6 year old Andalusian/Lusitano cross mare that is a dream come true. Every day with her is a joyous progression on the journey.

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