Good mobility of the shoulders and arms is necessary for good riding. In her classic bestseller BALANCE IN MOVEMENT, biomechanics expert Susanne von Dietze says, “One of the ailments of our civilized society, poor posture, especially when sitting, often causes the shoulder girdle to slide forward. In the long term this means severe tension in the area of the back of the neck, since the shoulder girdle is suspended there on the muscles of the neck instead of resting on the thorax…. There are a few very beneficial stretching exercises for the shoulder girdle, in particular, which you can do within the context of your everyday activities.” Von Dietze explains that by incorporating certain movements into your everyday barn tasks, it is possible to be both fit and efficient.
One of the easiest stretches to add to your regular routine is stretching the shoulders while you groom your horse.
“When grooming your horses’s neck, pause for a moment with your hand high up on the neck. Stand close in to the horse’s shoulder and position your hand with the brush on the horse’s neck. have the opposite leg positioned in front as if you are about to walk forward.
“Before actually starting to groom with the brush, apply gentle pressure and hold the brush against your horse’s neck. Yo will feel the stretch at the side of the shoulder. Vary the pressure on the hand on the brush: sometimes put more on the little-finger side, sometimes more on the ball of your thumb. Different groups of muscles are activated when you do this and the stretch is intensified.
“Remember the old grooming rule: ‘long strokes and short breaks.’ The stroke should be as long as possible and applied with even pressure. Your whole body can follow the movement.
“When grooming the horse’s back and belly try other positions and stretches. By varying the body position and pressure you can very easily feel where any muscles are tight and what is best for your body.
“When grooming the other side of the horse, the brush should be held in your other hand as you repeat the stretches and strokes on that side.”
For more innovative exercises to help you improve your seat on the horse and better your riding position and performance, check out BALANCE IN MOVEMENT by Susanne von Dietze, available from the TSB online bookstore.
CLICK HERE for more information or to order.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.