09 Jul

A Balancing Act

I have known for sometime that my body is just not where it needs to be when I am riding. I know in my head what I need to do and where my body needs to be but I just physically can’t seem to be able to do it. In my lessons, I know that my right ankle lifts, I also know that I have a tendency to sit heavy on the right and back in the saddle.

Lately I have been paying special attention to riders and their positions in all disciplines. It never ceases to amaze me how people get away with it, their horses are so forgiving. I just don’t have that luxury, mine forgives me nothing. So, if I am really to climb the levels and go where I want us to go I need to get fixing.

Mr Stretch has been to Wellington and has been on the water treadmill, I can see a tremendous improvement in the way he now understands his body, coupled with Bowens and his regular physio sessions, I think he is in a good place.

However, I believe that the rider vastly affects the way of a horse’s going, I owe it to him to be the best that I can be.  I see too many riders blaming the horse for a poor performance in whatever discipline, but 97% of the time it is the rider. I decided to take the plunge and go and find out what kind of physical wreck I really am.

Time to put into practice what I believe.

Enter Clare Howard from The Balanced RiderIMG 2044. Fantastically, she is now having clinics at the Equine Rebalance Therapy Centre at Wellington Riding.

So, with trepidation I went for my assessment which is, to be honest, a lot less scary than I imagined and a whole heap more interesting.

Clare wants to know all about you, your aches, pains and injuries. Your horse, what you do, what you think you have difficulty with, all carried out with a good deal of light hearted humour and a lot of laughing which makes it so much more enjoyable.

Then I get to go through a series of assessment exercises. Standing up, sitting down and lying down performing various movements so Clare can see where my strengths and weaknesses lie, if muscles are firing in the correct sequences, which side is stronger in various exercises, which side you favour doing what and how your body reacts.

IMG 2066

The Pelvis, yes I got to see how my pelvis works. Standing up, stupendous in one direction and completely useless in the other. Sitting down a much easier prospect and lying down even simpler. Work to be done here too, no 

wonder my 20 metre circles are interesting, poor old Stretch isn’t getting much help from me in this direction!

Off outside to the wobbleboard!! Having had a completely smashed ankle I knew this was not going to go well, fortunately I had a stable door to grab, which I did with frequent regularity. Going from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock without tipping over is not an easy thing to do but going from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock was even more of a challenge for me. Not a lot of balance there, I can tell you.

Technology too

Back inside, finally I get to the technology.  I got to side on the saddle chair and sit in front of the PC and do the exercises that assess my range and correctness of movement. From A to B in a straight line and then a horizontally, 20 m circles, figures of eight on the vertical and horizontal. Eye opening, trying desperately hard to keep within the colour coded diagrams.

On to the gym ball. Well that only served to assure me that I have a lot of work to do. There are about 5 or 6 exercises some of my efforts were moderately passable others hysterically funny.

The Verdict?IMG 2063

Over an hour later, Clare has a good picture of where you are in your Balance. She assures me, that whilst there is work to do, all in all there is nothing that can’t be fixed.

Then gives me my homework taking photos with my camera so I can remember what I have to do. No more sitting on the sofa at the end of the day watching TV, I will be on my gym ball practising to my hearts content.

She reckons that if I do my homework I can expect to see a 50% improvement in a month or two and then gradual improvements thereafter. Well if that isn’t an incentive I don’t know what is. I have to say, though you are finding your flaws, I felt really comfortable all the way through, Clare’s attitude and sense of humour having a lot to do with it. It actually was fun!


Needless to say, I am booked in for my next session in 2 weeks, so with my loan wobbleboard under my arm I depart ready to get going on the homework and see just how quickly I can get my balance under control and my body functioning to help my horse. Oh yes, and I do love a challenge. 

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