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Horse and rider straightness training

A stable, supple, strong riding seat can only be built on a straight, healthy foundation! A strong, healthy riding foundation starts when you understand biomechanics in motion which means:

  • Your horse’s ribs are able to swings to the right and left equally in order for the hind legs to have enough space to step under evenly.
  • You are ambidextrous and therefor able to swing your ribs in the opposite direction of the horse's rib swing thus enabling the correct placement of their hind legs.
  • You can help the horse’s ribs to swing equally to the left and right because you are no longer physically tied down through one diagonal pathway.
  • You have dissolved your spinal twist using all the ART exercises specifically designed for that purpose.
  • You are able to remain supple and straight by using ART exercise regularly.


ART is more than a riding lesson it is therapeutic, like physiotherapy. It is simple to learn and a lot more effective than traditional riding lessons. When you put your therapy hat on, set aside our judgments how you believe the rider’s position should look, you are open to learn the secret power of position. Have you ever noticed while riding how your horse’s ribs swings left and right under your seat? Every living creature is naturally crooked due to right or left handedness and life's experiences. For horses and riders this can cause big problems because they need to be straight and ambidextrous to achieve their goals. Right and left handedness weaves a web of crookedness throughout the whole body, it cannot be corrected by merely trying to mould the rider, or horse, into an 'ideal position.' All that does is build another layer of crookedness on their wonky foundation. It’s a cover-up. It’s like reslating the roof and washing the windows of a house with crooked foundations; it doesn't’t fix what’s really wrong. Good posture is not achieved by fixing a horse or rider into an, "ideal" image it, like anything in nature, evolves naturally. Horses are right and left-handed too!

This horse is right handed, which means his left hind is dominant and drives over to the right shoulder instead of forwards to the hoof print of the left fore. These horses are more commonly known in the horse world as hollow on the left and stiff on the right. Hollowness equals contraction, especially through the intercostal muscles between the ribs. Left hind driver's don't like stretching their left side because that involves stretching the intercostal muscles between the left ribs. as humans we understand that is a good thing, horses know it doesn't feel good or safe, so they try to avoid it. This experienced rider, right, works not only on opening her stiff side (her right ribs), she actively also works unilaterally with the left side of her body to bring the horse back into alignment; thus straightening herself and the horse simultaneously. Once the horse is able to swing their ribs left and right equally, their hind legs have enough space to step well under the body and bear weight equally. Then the horse is able to lift its back which creates a strong connection between their forehand and quarters. This is commonly referred to as "throughness". Left hind drivers like the above horse


Dr Gerd Heuschmann tells us more in this YouTube video.

 

To develop pure natural posture you need to use a combination of the Alexander technique and Feldenkrais. Just think how a hiker would look and feel on returning from a walk if you had loaded his rucksack mainly on the right side? Besides being pretty annoyed he will certainly look and feel lop-sided - and have backache, to boot. During his walk the uneven load would force him to carry more weight on his right leg, "leaking out" of his right ribs and hollowing his left ribs. As I mentioned above, right and left handedness, creates a spinal twist throughout the whole body locking down one diagonal pathway. The right diagonal pathway starts at the right shoulder, through the left hip, to the left foot. The left diagonal pathway starts at the left shoulder and travels through the right hip to the right foot.
The hiker's right diagonal pathway - right shoulder left hip - will have to tighten to compensate for the uneven load! How often do you carry your bag with one hand or on one shoulder more than the other? How often do you favour writing with one hand or habitually favour one leg when going up and down stairs? When your diagonal pathways are asymmetrical it prevents you from lengthening up like a meerkats is famous for. Diagonal lock down between one shoulder and hip manifests distortion throughout the body and right and left handed horses imprint their crookedness into you as a double whammy! That is why in these workshops we work on firstly on straightening the rider from the ground and then an a straight mechanical horse to eliminate any confusion associated with the horse's crookedness. ART combines Feldenkrais with the Alexander Technique to make natural upright posture a breeze, not only whilst riding but also in your daily life!

Why ART straightness training starts from the floor.

This rider is learning about her natural crookedness, calmly and slowly, without having to worry about gravity and the horse's crookedness. This is the beginning of the straightness story. She learns that her left diagonal pathway i.e. between her left shoulder and right foot is locked. Straightness depends on both diagonal pathways being supple, the same length and with equal tone, therefore this exercise is vital if you want to be truly straight. The ART straightening exercise below releases and elasticises the rider’s stiff diagonal pathway from her left shoulder to her right hip, bringing symmetry to the whole body simultaneously.