In the quest to ride a horse well, mankind has thought long and hard about how best to go about it. Various solutions have been formed, none of which works with the rider’s sense of feel. Not convinced? How many times have you been told to sit on your pockets, sit back, sit up, sit evenly, sit quietly….? Has anyone ever taught you how to absorb the movement of the horse? Have you ever asked to be taught

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Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the wonderful Sprieser Sporthorse at Clearwater Farm to audit the Michael Barisone Dressage clinic.

With his usual buoyant style, Michael spoke directly to the concern each rider brought to that lesson. Yet his message was consistent throughout the day that success does not lay with focusing on a particular movement, it lay with bringing excellence to what leads up to that movement.

He guided the riders to excellence first by the question: is

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Center of GravityIf riding were easy it wouldn’t be an Olympic sport.  Two brains, two personalities, a million moving parts, and gravity – where to begin to bring it all together so both horse and rider can enjoy balance and comfort.

The answer is:  your hips.

Apart from the fact that that is where your body meets your horse’s body it is also your very own base of support – your horse riding balance.

  • Your center of gravity lives
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Rider with Motion sensorsAn article was published recently on ScienceDaily.com titled “Video game technology aids horse rider assessment.” 

The smart of science takes motion sensors used by movie makers and the video games industry, and applies it to horseback riding to assess a riders’ balance, symmetry and poor posture.

The silly is that no rider needs technology to make this assessment because every human being comes equipped with a sensory motor system.  This innate function includes balance and movement (vestibular),

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Wonderful instructors giving us their all to help us improve.  Yet it can all feel so overwhelming. A million things to notice, another million to bring together for a ride that feels good to the rider and to the horse.

So how can we best benefit from our instructor’s vast knowledge?

Perhaps letting each lesson be about just one thing. For instance, allowing all gaits, patterns and movements to be in service to just one thing such as

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Trotting AwayOne of the main concerns I help adult riders with is falling. A very reasonable worry given that the number one fear of our nervous system is falling, and that the number one job of the nervous system is to prevent a fall from happening. This worry is also very reasonable as life experience has made it clear that we are not indestructible. Balance is the sweet spot between gravity and action, the sweet spot between physical, mental

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This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending Patrice EdwardsTeachers Training Symposium where the subject was Patterns With Purpose.

As an amateur rider I have found the whole subject of patterns to be very frustrating.

We have been taught that the purpose of riding patterns is to straighten and supple the horse, and develop communication which enables change from being propelled by the horse to being carried by the horse.

Yet, though every riding lesson

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There are many reasons for the breath to be free while riding.

One is that you stay connected to your parasympathic nervous systemthat is where calm lives – so not only will you stay in a good place emotionally, but your horse will sense this and stay calm too.

Another is that breathing keeps your body mobile, as soon as you hold your breath you lock up. So to flow with your horse requires that the breath

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One of the functions of the back is to absorb movement, and allowing this absorption to happen is the heart and soul of balanced, pain-free riding.

Below is a wonderful clip from 1935 that shows riders floating on their horses and the slinky like spring in their backs that absorbs their horse’s powerful movements.

Spanish Riding School of  Vienna 1935

When a rider has back pain it means there is a place(s) in the spine that is prevented from

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You carry out your horse dream no matter what it takes – there is no point talking about your back pain because it is just par for the course. Solutions are sought from pain meds and bandaging, from traditional and alternative therapies, from strength building and even surgery. You may buy different tack and perhaps you may even buy a different horse. At first glance these remedies seem quite different from one another, yet they all have

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