In my first Blog post I talked about coming to our horses in a ‘state of balance’ – my plan for the second Blog was to talk about how full diaphragmatic breathing can help this.
I had an experience yesterday that was a great example of the power of breathing. Or not…
In my 20+ years of riding from a very young age I was fortunate to have numerous and wonderful riding instructors from Pony Club to classical dressage lessons with the late legendary Gwen Stead and beyond. Since returning to riding after a 20 year break I have been introduced to Natural Horsemanship and are combining it with dressage training. Although I used to use some of these techniques intuitively in the past I feel like my horsemanship has been taken to a different level. I can now be more influential with my horse through the greater connection that we have developed, among other things, by shifting my energy levels to varying degrees to influence his, I love this!
So, yesterday was a great example of the power of our breathing and also the futility of even trying to use it to influence certain situations……
My horse Jack was a potentially explosive force of nature on the end of the lunge rein and the solution was to really get him moving forward – so off he went, a bouncy, speedy ball of pent up energy, emotion and spring grass! No amount of full diaphragmatic inhalations and long calm exhalations had any impact on this adrenalised being! I have to say though that 20+ years of Pilates practice came into play – my core strength up against an equine dynamo! Once he had let off enough steam and come to an abrupt halt with a snort that reverberated around the entire valley, I asked and he obliged by moving nicely forward into a soft, relaxed but energetic trot that responded beautifully to my changes of energy to lengthen and shorten his stride. I was rewarded with a calm upward transition into a soft forward canter and with a full exhale and lowering of energy on my behalf he melted to a stop. Time to hop on!
The breath is a very powerful tool – use it to calm, to energise and to focus – there are definately times though that take more than the ascending and descending of the diaphragm to bring our horses down from the clouds!
6 Great Reasons To Breathe fully –
- Oxygenates the blood and nourishes the cells
- Develops focus
- Runs alongside our Pilates practice
- Influences movement and energy levels in both horse and rider
Try this –
- Place your hands on your side ribs.
- Inhale slowly and fully and feel the ribs expand with an emphasis on the back and sides of the ribcage as the
- diaphragm descends.
- Exhale fully but not forcefully and feel the ribs naturally close as the diaphragm ascends back up under the ribcage.
- As you become aware of where you may be holding any tension inhale the breathe into the area.
- As you exhale aim to calmly and fully empty the lungs.
I would love to know – do you focus on your breathing whilst riding and with your on ground interactions with your horse?