We all know that horses are so sensitive they can feel a fly. We are usually reminded of this from our instructors when we give an aid too strongly. Considering this sensitivity and the fact that horses are reactive prey animals, we can probably put two and two together and deduce that we, as riders, are often the source of our horses issues.
Just the other day I happened upon a friend of mine who was longing her horse. She said she was worried about his movement under saddle. Now, my friend is an accomplished rider who is just getting back to riding her horse since he had been off for a few years due to tendon problems. Even though her horse has been recovering well and looked great moving at all gaits on the longe line, he wasn’t moving forward when she rode him at the trot. She couldn't figure out why and asked if I would watch her ride to see what was going on. She got on and the horse was fine at the walk but when she tried to trot, the horse looked odd. Not exactly lame but not moving quite right and definitely not moving freely forward. She asked if I would get on.
I had never ridden her horse, but I agreed to get on. After walking around the arena a few times, I picked up a trot. Wow! Was this horse ever forward! He happily went around on the bit and felt forward and balanced. I tried him in both directions. He was quite happy to move out for me. I asked my friend if he looked ok and she was quite surprised to see him move so nicely.
I recalled that she had recently been complaining to me about stiffness and pain in her hips. In fact, we had been trying to find a time for her to come to the studio for a Pilates session. I immediately realized that her hips were probably impeding her horses forward movement. Because horses are so sensitive they feel a fly, I suggested that her horse was most likely feeling the stiffness in her hips and so wasn’t sure he was supposed to move. In fact, perhaps he was trying to take care of her knowing she wasn’t riding the way she normally rides.
My friend booked a session with me at Living Legacy Pilates (Formerly Dulak Pilates) and after one session she rode again. She felt less pain, easier in the saddle, and her beautiful horse was forward again!
PS. Ridermanship® which is my six month online course of study into Pilates for Dressage® launches this summer! firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!