ARE YOU FIT FOR RIDING? Teresa Dixon (Biomechanics coach) explains how your dysfunctions affect your riding and your horse..

image teresa_dixonteresa hmslogoTeresa Dixon
(Dip ITS, DipFTST MBCA Specialist Biomechanics Coach)

Most riders focus on their horses' fitness and would never dream of not warming their horse up or cooling them off, so why don't we look after ourselves in the same way!
Many of the issues your horse may have when being ridden can in fact be the horse is simply mirroring back the rider's own biomechanical faults and however hard you school your horse and yourself it is always a compensation and not a true improvement. This can lead to the rider and the horse being exposed to injury, lack of riding improvement, reduced riding confidence and even sometimes riding in pain, all will have a negative impact on the overall experience and enjoyment  of your riding.

To be fit for riding the rider has to start with a good foundation -
I call this having 'Symmetry in the saddle'
Symmetry in the saddle
Working with a specialist biomechanics coach allows them to look at how your body is stacked off the horse and give you a more balanced and secure seat. 
Very few of us in our daily lives work in symmetry with our body's and we will have stiff or tight muscles or problems with joints and nerves which can be caused  simply from the way we sit, the way we exercise , move in general, repetitive jobs, even from the sports or hobbies we have. Some people may even  have injuries that carry no obvious pain or discomfort but leave the body with compensatory movement patterns. All of these issues will lead to our dysfunctions. 
Signs of dysfunctions

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- Poor posture
- Majority of weight being through one side
- One leg being bent when standing
- Shoulders twisted or not level
- Find it easier to move in one direction than the other
Dysfunction will replicate in your riding by;
Teresa riding_with_dys_photo_1 

- Moving better on one rein than the other
- One stirrup seems longer than the other
- Over griping the reins
- Horse seems hard to go forward lots of contact required to push him on
- Not progressing or finding lessons frustrating when the coach is telling you to do something that you believe you are doing!
Our specialist biomechanics coaches will asses the whole body and
dependant on their findings, give you  a unique and personalized report indicating the starting point to initially bring about symmetry (if required) ensuring the body is stacked right and able to move through to the stability phase and finally onto strengthen the rest of the body to maintain your new position/posture.
Stability in the saddle

The stability phase can be broken down into two or three phase's dependant on the individual, starting with mat work and progressing to the seated and standing work. 
Lots of riders are advised to do mat work by fitness professionals, however a rider's stability is in their sitting and this is the position that eventually stability should be practiced in. Riders will often try and sit on a gymball without having symmetry or stability and this of course can give rise to further problems.
Once optimum symmetry in the pelvis (hips) has been achieved, it is time to gain stability, if this phase is entered into too early and there is tightness tension or postural issues then  the compensatory movement patterns will be reinforced by doing core stability work (Pilates and crunches type workouts )
A specialist biomechanics coach will help you understand how to utilize the core by developing good core control and followed by (bracing) slowly developing stability and progressively adding co ordination and strength - starting with a mat and moving on to a stable seated position and then on to an unstable seated position which adds the appropriate challenges to the body. However if the body is over challenged it will recruit other muscles to perform the task creating a poor movement pattern and leaving you at risk to injury and a poor riding performance.
Suppleness & Strength in the saddle
This is the final phase and brings everything together- if your body had any dysfunctions it may have been weakened by compensatory patterns so to maintain good symmetry in the saddle the shoulders and legs should be working effectively as a unit from the core, thus maintaining suppleness and optimum performance for you and ultimately your horse.
Our specialist biomechanics coaches can perform a one to one assessment and corrective program, group workshops or use our online biomechanics program to achieve symmetry, stability, and strength in the saddle.

BENEFITS OF BIOMECHANICS - See the difference with our real life case studies.
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