Alexander Technique for Horse Riders – Kildare, Ireland

By , August 30, 2014 2:41 pm

Karen is a friend of mine in the UK and is a beautiful horsewomen & rider. I’ve sat watching clinics & taken 100’s of photos and I literally cannot find one bad picture of her. I knew she had done a lot of Alexander Technique, but I hadn’t really investigated it much further.

This summer, a combination of a few things – a new dressage saddle, a recommendation from a friend who studies high level Vaquero horsemanship & classical dressage, and a chance encounter with a ridden posture demo at the Dublin Horse Show got me thinking that I wanted to explore how I can improve my posture while I ride.

First up I decided to go to a few private Alexander classes, with Penelope Eastern in Killaloe that were general and not specifically focused on horsemanship, to see what it was like.

My first eye-opener was learning to be aware of what I was doing. Just simple things – like how I sat down & stood up. What way I was breathing. I found it all really interesting. For the whole week after it seemed to be stuck in my head, in a good way.

What I realised is that because we all sit down so much (driving, watching tv, at computer) we all get into these bad habits with our backs. In a few years it mightn’t add up to much. But in 10/20/30 years it could result in back pain, arthritis, slipped discs… all stuff that you really don’t want to get!

So I started to realise that learning about this could benefit more than my horsemanship & save me some serious doctors bills when I’m much older.

In short, I was hooked. And I could see how it would benefit my general health and in turn my posture & horses way of going.

When I was looking for someone to learn from, a few Alexander people recommended I go to Maria O’Neill in Kildare. Maria is a horsewomen & Alexander Teacher and so would be perfect to learn from, to get more insights on how they connect together.

Three friends and I travelled up yesterday to do an afternoon ‘without horses’ workshop in Kildare at Maria’s house. We all do various things… from hunting, showjumping & competing to starting young horses, dressage and working on confidence while riding.

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It was really good. Maria explained the origins of the technique (Alexander rode horses too!) and the concepts behind it. We also did some games to start to analysis our habits and Maria did hands on work to get us to start relaxing our muscles and stop overusing muscles we actually didn’t need to be using at all!

We all got a posture overview in a saddle as well, and within minutes our ‘habits’ were becomming evident. The first step with Alexander is awareness of what your body is doing. Most of the time our body just ‘moves’ – but we’re not aware of exactly what muscles are active at what time.

So we started to realise things when we were in the saddle including:

– Being a little uneven on our seat bones
– Over tensing seat muscles
– Tensing our shoulders up
– Having tense legs
– Looking down
– Shallow breathing

It was all really really interesting & we had lots to go home & think about, and see what else we can become aware of.

I would highly recommend Maria’s lessons for both horse riders wanting to improve their seat & posture in the saddle, and equally for anyone who wants to be kinder to their body & avoid back ache in the future!

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