Olympics Team GB Equestrian Gold, Silver & the Alexander Technique

Fantastic to see the Olympic Gold medal achieved by the GB Showjumping team – Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles – following the nail biting jump off against the Netherlands.  Fortunately, unlike far too numerous to list, England football penalty shoot outs, the Team GB Showjumping team won!  I remembered watching Nick Skelton in the 1980s competing and so it was especially great to see him achieve Gold today.  And that on top of the Silver medal achieved by the GB Eventing team last week involving William Fox-Pitt, Nicola Wilson, Zara Phillips Mary King and Tina Cook.  Well done Equestrian Team GB!!!

All my life I have been fascinated by the beauty, the unity, the strength and grace of horse and rider.

Poise of the rider is one of the fundamental pillars of good horsemanship.  Recently, I have been having a course of horse riding lessons with a new instructor.  She was interested to learn that I was an Alexander Technique teacher and asked me lots of questions about it.  Because it is a technique embraced by many riders she had initially thought that it was developed within and solely for the equestrian field.  She was surprised to hear that FM Alexander, the founder of the Alexander Technique was an actor who was trying to resolve his breathing and vocal problems.

But she re-iterated its importance to riders and by the end of the lesson said that I had been far easier to teach and was picking up riding skills and building a good relationship and partnership with the horse far quicker than most riders.  ‘Every rider should have Alexander Technique lessons’ she exclaimed.  ‘They’d be far easier to teach’!

The whole issue of finding one’s seat in a poised, fluid and dynamic way which gives a sense of expansiveness through the rider to the horse through all transitions is eased by learning the Alexander Technique alongside taking riding lessons.  But why is that?

When we sit on a horse we bring with us all the habitual thought and postural patterns that we have accumulated thus far.  That includes how we slump at a desk with eyes focused on a computer screen, or collapse into an armchair.  How we hold the reins will be conditioned by how we habitually hold our knife and fork, our toothbrush or a pen!  These patterns of tension become a way of being and we take them into riding a horse.

As riders, we may know and have been told countless times that good posture is important in horse riding.  Consequently, we may put in huge efforts to sit up straight, look out and keep the heels down.  But it isn’t natural to have to make such an effort, it is hard to maintain it, it doesn’t bring the best out of the horse and to top it all, it can be painful.  Believe it or not, natural poise and good posture should be and feel effortless, like you see in a baby sitting with its head beautifully balanced on top of its spine, with a sense of calm and aliveness in its eyes.

If you find that you struggle to sit up straight without a lot of effort it is not that you are lazy and not working hard enough, or are not strong enough and need to do more exercises.  It is just that you have, over the years, got into habits which have led to your postural mechanisms getting out of kilter such that the wrong muscles are doing the wrong jobs.  Jobs for which they are not best suited.  You might be making huge muscular efforts but the results aren’t great and there is a lot of unnecessary stress and strain going on.

With the help of an Alexander Technique teacher you can begin to breathe a sigh of relief.  You will gradually learn how to consciously prevent unnecessary tensions, stress and strain and how to encourage your natural poise to come through again.  Your poise has not been extinguished, it is in you as your birthright as a human being and can, be allowed to blossom again.

You will learn a process of thinking, moving and being which will not only enhance all the activities in your life, but crucially as a rider, will enable you to ‘find your seat’ and explore new depths of beauty and unity in riding.

The next HITE ‘Improve your Seat’ workshop is from 1:30 – 4:30pm on Saturday 6th October at 10 Harley Street, London W1G 9PF.  Designed especially for riders, you will gain insights and experiences through the application of the Alexander Technique on how you can find a comfortable posture and even seat on the saddle and discover a more harmonious connection with your horse.

For further information and to book your place click on HITE Improve Your Seat Riding and Alexander Technique Workshops today.

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6 Comments

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