What’s Stopping You?

img01Through the years I have often heard that the only way to become a better rider is to ride more. I never questioned that statement, because it seemed completely logical and rang of truth. However, as an amateur rider with a full-time corporate job, home and family to care for, and struggling just to have the time and energy to ride my one horse every day, it was also a terribly depressing thought. Even riding every day wasn’t always possible, much less riding more than one horse! My finances certainly wouldn’t support owning (boarding) more than one horse, sometimes two, but unless I gave up sleep, there was no way I could make the time to ride regularly and consistently. So I despaired of ever becoming the rider I have aspired to be my entire life.

During this time of my life I had the opportunity to audit a clinic with the German biomechanics specialist, Eckart Meyners. He spent an entire day watching rider after rider for about 2 minutes in walk, trot and canter, had the riders dismount and perform a couple of very simple exercises, and then had them mount up and ride again. The differences in the way these riders rode after the 5-10 minutes of exercise was nothing short of miraculous to my eye. I believe the riders also felt much the same. The exercises were so simple, and seemed completely unrelated to riding, and yet they had an enormous impact on the riders’ ability to move with the horse without tension, and ultimately ability to influence the horse’s way of going.

At the time I wished desperately that I could go to Germany and work with Herr Meyners, but alas, my personal situation was such that it would have required a sacrifice I was unwilling to make at the time. After all, I had a job and a horse, and pets that I couldn’t just give up and leave to pursue this crazy dream…

Fast forward at least 10 years, and I found myself at a crossroads in my life, my riding, and my career. I had spent many years working out to be stronger and more fit, finding that while it helped my riding tremendously to be fit, it didn’t really make me a better rider – I still had the same issues with one side being stronger than the other, a pelvis that seemed permanently tilted and slightly twisted, tension still crept in at the slightest provocation, my body still didn’t move as fluidly with the horse as I would have liked, and I still couldn’t influence the horse in the harmonious way that I dreamed of being able. I knew there had to be something more that I could do off the horse to improve my riding.

So on sort of a whim, I decided to pursue certification as an Equi-Yoga instructor. That act opened up a whole new world for me. I realized that what was missing from my fitness routine was all the exercises that actually would improve my body for riding, in a way that I actually could look forward to. I studied the work of people like Eckart Meyners, Suzanne von Dietze, and Mary Wanless.

It finally hit me that I had all the pieces to allow me to create the Ridefit program. And that is what I set about doing towards the end of 2014.

The more I teach the program, the more effective it becomes, as I find and try new exercises to add to the program. Recently, I had the opportunity to instruct a shortened Ridefit session during a clinic, in which a local Dressage trainer offered herself up as a “guinea pig” to try out the program for the first time. The clinician didn’t join in, but he observed very carefully all the exercises that we did. After the workout, the trainer got on her horse for her clinic ride.

Several times during her ride, the clinician came over to the spectators and made a note of some way the trainer was using her body on the horse, and pointed out which exercises we had performed on the mat or the ball that had mobilized or simulated that exact way of moving. Towards the end of the trainer’s ride, the clinician asked her how she felt in her body. Her answer was that she felt like she was riding her second horse of the day, instead of just the first – the Ridefit class had warmed up her body in the same way that a ride on another horse would have. This was precisely my intention when I created the program. I have finally realized my dream of being able to help riders become better RIDERS, even without more time in the saddle.

Just one Ridefit session will result in noticeable improvements in a rider’s body, but as with every fitness program, the truly lasting benefits are in the consistent repetition. There is literally nothing to stop any rider from breaking through the amateur “glass ceiling” and taking a giant leap towards becoming a better rider. The tools are all here, now all it requires is you to make a commitment to yourself and your horse.

Are you ready for the ride of your life? What’s stopping you? Make a choice today, to ride better tomorrow!

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