The benefits of doing yoga are well known for people everywhere, but did you ever think how great yoga could benefit someone who rides horses? As a horse trainer, my mom practices yoga herself and also instructs her clients and lesson groups on how to do yoga on horseback. Yoga can help equestrians with obvious things like balance, coordination, flexibility and mental focus but practicing yoga can help to strengthen your communication and trust with your horse. Yoga will help respect your horse by improving yourself as a rider. Personally, I practice yoga at least once a week and no matter how I feel before I start the class, I finish rejuvenated. Finding information and videos on how to practice traditional yoga yourself is fairly easy to fins so I will go over some popular yoga moves you can practice on horseback. These exercises are a great way to warm up before a ride or cool down as well.
Twist and Twist with arms extended
Twist your upper body with your hands on your hips or with one hand on the pommel and one on the cantle. Relax and open into the twist. Take a few breaths and then gently unwind your body. You can also do the same exercise with your arms extended from your side.
Place your hands behind the saddle with your fingers pointed towards the cantle. Arch your back and look up to the sky while relaxing your shoulders and back down.
Place one hand on your hip or knee and stretch the other arm up and toward the opposite side. Relax and ground through your legs. Be sure not to fall forward or collapse your upper body.
Sit up straight with your shoulders down and back and your body even in the saddle. Put your hand behind your back and place your palms together with your fingers pointed towards the sky.
Sit up straight with your shoulders down and back and your body even in the saddle. Stretch both arms up towards the ceiling. Gaze towards your fingertips.
For more information about breathing and mental awareness and to see where I learned a few of my positions, read “Yoga for Equestrians” by Linda Benedik and Veronica Wirth.