Category Archives: Rider Development

Aspire Coaching Weekend 17-19 May 2013. Photo Snippets.

Claire and puzzle
Learning turn on the forehand in-hand
Building awareness through visual feedback
Emma and Hazel
Learning turn on the forehand in-hand
Emma and Hzel ridden
Ridden work after in-hand work. Using the knowledge from groundwork to achieve better gymnastic results

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WHAT IF YOU RODE BLINDFOLDED…- The Role of Senses in Riding

Sheila on Rex during their blindfolded lesson experiment. October 2007
Sheila on her own horse, Rex during their blindfolded lesson experiment. October 2007

A couple of days ago I read a blog post written by a woman suffering from Dystonia (a neurological movement disorder) who is trying to return to riding. She is describing her progress and in this recent post she mentions how closing her eyes influenced her actions in the saddle:  Horse Riding For Dystonians. A Progress Report.

Many riders are hindered in their progress through muscle tension and various semi-involuntary muscular reactions so I follow Dystonia Girl’s blog with interest and her thoughts took me back several years when one of my then riders and I did a series of quite experimental training sessions…

Here is what I wrote about it in October 2007 on my other blog:

“[…] The blindfold idea has hunted me ever since, as a 16 years old helper at a riding school in Poland, I had a group of blind children to teach. They were in between 10-12 years old and none of them ever sat on a horse. Teaching them was an incredible experience as most of them were blind from birth or their vision was so impaired that the only thing they saw was light differences.

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THE POWER OF SLOW MOTION – VIDEO ANALYSIS IN TRAINING OF AMATEUR RIDERS

Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy riders at training day with Centaur Biomechanics
Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy riders at training day with Centaur Biomechanics*

Is it for me?

Despite growing numbers of online shows, virtual training options and overwhelming choice of phones with in-built camcorders, video analysis is still hugely underused and undervalued training tool among grassroots riders.

Many think it’s something “for advanced riders” but its effectiveness really has nothing to do with how skilful you are. I’ve used video feedback with great results from Aspire Start Programme which is for complete beginners who perhaps never even sat on a horse before to Performance Programme and our BHS Instructor’s Training Programme.

So let’s assume you are an aspiring amateur rider…

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Show Me How You Walk and I Will Tell You How You Ride

Before we start, it is important to note, this post considers able bodied riders. 

Make a little experiment…

Set a video camera running and walk towards it and away from it. Then do the same side-ways. The same jogging and the same “skipping” as if you were cantering on your own feet (you might want to be alone if you are worried about your sanity being judged 😉

Then grab a cup of tea or coffee and re-watch those clips with detective-like curiosity. Check for the way you use your joints, the way you distribute your weight throughout your body, the way your hips move (or not!) while you walk and jog. Check which leg you start skipping with, which one pushes, which one carries without thinking about it, how level are your shoulders, is your head forwards or on top of your shoulders, do you carry your rib cage to one side…When you walk, do you lead the movement with your upper body or your hips…These are just a few of numerous elements you can analyse.

Grassroots Riders Habits 

If you are like many other amateur riders, chances are you have a sitting job – long hours at a computer desk, long hours in a car, perhaps you also wear high heels if you are a woman or you slouch a bit if you are a man…hundreds of your daily postural habits are mirrored very clearly in your riding style.

It is possible to fairly accurately describe many of your riding problems without you even sitting on a horse. It is also possible to change your riding position, seat issues, leg responsiveness or contact issues that you have when riding by analysing your own walking style as in our little experiment above.

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