For all you riders out there you understand how important your position on the horse is. It is important to be able to adapt to the horse as well as be able to influence the horse with simple signals from our bodies. Have you ever found that when you ride you can't keep your feet in the stirrups, that your shoulders wont relax back, that you cant seem to keep a good seat, along with many other issues that all us riders struggle with to become best that we can be? If so then Rolfing® Structural Integration may be an answer to help with your ability to relate to your horses motion.
Every time we get on our horses we expose them to our own restrictions in our body which then causes their bodies to have to compensate for us. For example if one is not able to keep their hips relaxed and level due to tightness and lack of awareness then they will not be able to signal the horse correctly or find a well balanced seat. Rolfing® SI has the ability to help this because by going through the ten series one is able to find more balanced body which translates in to a more balanced rider. Here is a break down of how each session has the ability to assist with riding.
Session one- This session focuses on the breath and indirectly relaxes the shoulders as well as creating more support in the body. By doing this it increases the rider's ability to be conscious of their breath while riding as well as breath easier. When we make sure to breath the horses follow our lead. Next time you are on your horse see how your horse reacts when you take deep breaths. Next we get to the shoulders. Your balance is very dependent on where shoulders are and if you are able to keep them back with ease it will improve your balance in the saddle. As a result the horse will be able to find their balance easier.
Session Two- In this session we focus on support from the feet. This is a crucial session for riders because it enhances the person's ability to find support in their stirrups. While you walk you want to feel contact with the whole surface of your foot. This is the same feeling you want to have in the stirrups. If you can find this contact in the stirrups your position will be stronger and allow your leg to be in a better position.
Session Three- This session increases the person's adaptability in their body from front to back. It also allows the person to access more length in their body. This is essential when you ride to be able to access the side line of your body and get length because it gives the horse room to lift their backs and strengthens your position from your core. Many riders may find that they have a turned out position in their legs. This session will help the person regain the forward alignment of the legs so that you are able to find your seat bones better.
Session Four- This session is where we work on your mid-line of the body. In my opinion this is one of the most crucial sessions for a rider because our mid-line is what gives us the ability to ride. By creating support and adaptability through the mid-line one is able to use the inside of the thigh and calf to secure our position through our core as well as signal the horse appropriately. This is also the session where work with the Pelvic Floor. It is essential for riders to have a relaxed pelvic floor so that you can sink in the saddle. If the pelvic floor is tight then it makes it very challenging to stay with the horse in a connected way.
Session Five- In this session we focus on the hip flexors and the front side of the body. This is important for a rider because our hips need to be able to adapt to the movements of the horse. It is very important that our hip flexors have the ability to adapt be short or long so that we can keep up with the horses movement whether you are going over a jump or doing a sliding stop.
Session Six- In this session we focus on the back of the body specifically the sacrum. The sacrum is the keystone of the spine. Once the sacrum is balanced it allows for the possibility for more support for the spine therefore stabilizing the riders position further. When the sacrum gains the ability to move freely the rider can let go of the front of the sacrum making it possible to adapt to the horses movements better without impeding the horses movement.
Session Seven- This is the session where we work inside the mouth and nose. It can be a very intense session but it can lead to great possibility. When the cranium is more open and the throat is more relaxed it complete the riders ability to help length through the top of the head and relax into the saddle. It also has the ability to allow for more openness of the eyes. As riders if we can learn to soften our gaze and use more of peripheral vision it softens you actions and body. Try playing with how hard you focus your eyes and the reaction of your horse.
Session Eight/Nine- In these sessions we work to retrain and integrate the new changes in the body. This is a great opportunity to work with the connections in the body that still need to be made. For example if you have a hard time finding one of your seat bones or stirrups we can do movements as we work that will increase you ability to find these missing links.
Session Ten- This is the session where we do the finishing touches. It is like the last shine before you step into the show ring because it is subtle but essential.
The statements in this post are based on my own experiences. Everyone's experience will be different and I would love it if Rider's told me their stories as to how Rolfing® SI has helped them.
Lauren Harmon Certified Advanced Rolfer™
Certified Equine Structural Integration Practitioner
Rolfing ® Structural Integration Longmont and Fort Collins Colorado