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Prepare your horse for the show ring by refining his adjustability with this step-by-step gymnastic exercise program. An extremely rideable horse is very adjustable: He readily shortens and lengthens his stride in response to subtle aids.
Some horses are naturally more adjustable than others and don’t require as much focus on this skill in training. Because horses vary widely in terms of their emotions, experiences and physical abilities, each one must be trained as a unique individual. I use these exercises for all of my horses and riders, from Juniors to adults to grand-prix jumpers. To tackle my gymnastic jumping exercises, you and your horse also should be jumping small courses, at a minimum. One final prerequisite: To achieve positive results, you must remain calm, unemotional and patient throughout the training process. These exercises are physically and mentally demanding, so take plenty of walk breaks and avoid doing too many repetitions. Junior rider Megan MacPherson has lined Deep Snow, an 11-year-old Rhinelander, up nicely in the approach to the first cavalletti. Megan waits until after his hind legs land before dropping her weight into her heels and asking for a transition to trot.
She waits a full stride after Deep Snow has landed his last foot on the ground from the trot poles before using clear leg aids to engage him in an upward transition to canter.
Because he didn’t feel rushed or pushed, Deep Snow arrives at a quiet takeoff spot and neatly jumps the cavalletti, still centered and straight through his body. On the short sides of the arena, use steady rein pressure to shorten his stride again while keeping your weight balanced in the middle of the saddle. If your horse is on the lazy side and reluctant to lengthen his stride, reinforce your leg aids with first the spur and then, if necessary, a tap of the stick just behind your leg. When your horse is obediently lengthening and shortening, incorporate circles (about 50 feet in diameter, depending on the size of your ring) in opposite corners of the arena to test his suppleness. Next, introduce some lateral exercises to fine-tune his responses to your leg aids even further. Depending on your horse’s natural balance and skills, these exercises may take several sessions to master.
After warming up with the flatwork exercises described above, approach the single pair of cavalletti in two-point position at a medium canter. Make a point to straighten your horse for at least three to four strides in both the approach to the line and after landing from the final cavalletti.
After cantering over this line two or three times, change direction by looping around to one of the cavalletti on a diagonal, and then repeat the line a few times on the other lead.
Next, on the opposite long side of the arena, pick up the pace and approach the line in a more forward canter. When the forward four feels easy, sink your weight into a deeper seat and ask for a collected canter in the approach to the two cavalletti.
After cantering through this line a few times in a normal four strides to four strides, Megan approaches the line in a more collected canter, planning to ride five strides to five strides. Immediately after landing, Megan drops her weight into her heels and closes her fingers around short reins to ask Deep Snow to shorten his stride. After landing from the vertical, she drops her weight deep into her heels again, rocking her shoulders back a little further this time and thinking of shortening Deep Snow’s neck which, in turn, helps him to shorten his stride.
Set two verticals diagonally on the quarterline where you placed the angled cavalletti in the previous exercises.
As with the cavalletti exercise, the test of these exercises will be the track, not the fences. Next, approach the line in a medium canter again and ask for four forward strides from the first oxer to the vertical. Next, approach the line in a more collected canter, still maintaining enough impulsion to help your horse clear the back rail of the first oxer. As you progress through this program, you’ll get an idea of how adjustable your horse is and what he needs to work on.
The goal of this exercise is to arrive at each jump in a balanced, straight manner so that every jumping effort is excellent, no matter how many strides you rode in the approaching distance.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of creating a non-profit organization dedicated to serving a variety of populations using the Arts as Medicine. Welcome, I am Lisa Russo Pettigrew ~ I offer innovative services that inspire people to turn their challenges into insights & strength. It is with deep passion, care & sensitivity that I enthusiastically share what brings me peace, balance, and joy while on this journey. I provide a structured approach with guided exercises designed to elicit a creative response that promotes the release of stress issues, grief, loss, anger, shame and much more. Develop your a€?bodies intelligencea€? to inform who you are & how you make your choices. Learn simple tools to support peace, balance & deeper connection(s) in your daily life. I provide a structured approach with guided exercises designed to elicit a creative response that promotes the release of stress issues, grief, loss, anger, shame and much more.A  Together we ignite the a€?bodya€™s wisdoma€? to improve health, well being, & anything else we desire! Improve your balance in the saddle with these 7 Balimo exercises from top sports physiologist Eckart Meyners. Eckart has identified the most common muscle imbalances that riders struggle with and has designed more than 100 exercises to help rebalance them. Concentrating too much on your position while riding, however, actually prevents you from focusing fully on your horse. Before you try to improve your body (and before you even get in the saddle), give it a chance to warm up. The interaction between your nervous system and your muscles, tendons and ligaments will improve as well, resulting in better body awareness and coordination. Ideally, your warm-up should last about 20 minutes, but if your time is limited, break it into mini warm-ups throughout your day. Benefits: While helping to warm up your entire body, this exercise increases your body awareness. How to do it: Start by walking normally for a few steps, then roll your ankles out so you're walking on the outsides of your feet for several steps (Photo A, left). By experimenting with contrasting weight and body positions, you teach your body to recognize when it is upright and centered and when it is not.
As your left foot leaves the ground, pull that knee up and to the right, while reaching diagonally across your body to the left with your right arm.
Benefit: The diagonal hand-knee motion of crawling is believed to be an essential component of coordination ?development in human babies.
How to do it: While watching TV or listening to the radio, crawl back and forth across your living room floor for a few minutes. You probably don't realize how much work it is for your body to hold up your heavy head (11 to 15 pounds!) and how much a slight head tilt can throw the rest of your body off balance.
How to do it: Sitting on a firm chair, balance on your two seat bones, with your arms hanging by your sides, looking straight ahead. Benefit: This helps you separate your eye and head movement to improve your relaxation, balance and coordination. When your upper body is relaxed and balanced, it feels as if it is carrying itself, giving your pelvis room to swing freely underneath and allowing your arms to hang naturally by your sides.
Step 1: Lie down on your stomach with your arms out to your sides, palms down, your head turned to the left, your right leg straight, your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle, and your left thigh making a 90-degree angle with your body. Step 2: To test your range of motion, raise your left arm up in the air as high as possible without straining. Step 3: Bend your left wrist so your fingertips point to the sky and lift your arm again without straining.
Step 7: Change your body orientation to the right side (head turned to right, right knee bent) and repeat the entire exercise with your right arm.
Benefit: This mobilizes your shoulders and upper torso, helping to correct upper-body alignment problems and blockages that may be interfering with your ability to follow your horse's motion with your seat and coordinate your upper body movements and aids with those of your lower body. Step 2: Press your shoulder blades against the ground and let your head gently turn to the left and right. Step 3: Keeping your pelvis in line with your thighs and torso, "walk" your legs sideways in a circle around your shoulders.


Eckart Meyners is a Professor of Sports Physiology and Body Movement at the University of L?neburg in Germany. A rideable horse responds to your aids promptly and reliably, just the way the brakes, accelerator and steering work in a high-performance car.
This is an essential skill, particularly in today’s upper-level jumper and equitation courses, which often include challenging distances between jumps. Just like any other athlete, though, regardless of their natural talents, all horses need to practice adjustability exercises periodically. Improving any horse’s rideability requires a combination of identifying his strengths and weaknesses, choosing equipment that best suits him and practicing exercises that target his individual needs. Anyone can work on the flatwork and cavalletti exercises as long as you and your horse both have a certain degree of balance—you can stay with his motion without holding yourself in place with the reins and he can maintain his pace without constant correcting. Whenever your horse does an exercise well, immediately praise him and move on to the next exercise. He’s straight and centered and clearly focused on the trot poles ahead, as is his rider. Deep Snow’s topline is relaxed in a lovely frame, carrying the energy from his hindquarters over his back to a soft rein contact.
By focusing her eyes on the final cavalletti, she keeps his body straight before, during and after the transition. Megan concentrates on staying in the middle of the saddle and feeling a light, steady contact in the reins, allowing him to gauge his distance to the cavalletti. In the air, Megan follows his mouth with a soft rein release and focuses her eyes ahead on the next turn.
After walking once or twice around the ring on a loose rein, apply slightly stronger leg aids to create more impulsion in the walk, asking for a working walk—more than a leisurely pace but not an overly excited pace.
It should feel like he is completely focused on you and ready to respond immediately to very light aids.
Then repeat the same aids you gave at the walk, pushing your horse up to the bit with your legs while using gentle half-halts to establish a nice connection. Think of collecting the energy in your hands so you can release it again in the lengthening on the next long side. If your horse resists the rein aids at any point (leans on the bit and refuses to collect his stride), apply firm rein pressure, supported by a strong, solid feeling in your core and upper body. Give a cluck simultaneously with the whip so he will associate the two signals with going forward when you cluck in the show ring. If your horse is green or you are a beginner, turn all of the cavalletti to their lowest setting. In this and every exercise you do, focus on keeping your horse as straight as possible, from the turn, through the line, and to the next turn. Follow your horse’s motion with your body, keeping your hands above his withers and asking for the same stride lengthening that you practiced on the flat. Maintain this pace as you change direction over one of the diagonal cavalletti and then approach the line on the opposite side. Professionals spend most of their hours at home building their horses’ gymnastic abilities, encouraging them to power off the ground from closer takeoff spots.
Deep Snow is centered and straight over the first oxer and Megan’s position is spot-on, with square shoulders, a nice hip angle and knees closed on his sides. When he lands from the vertical, drop your weight in your heels to ask him to shorten for five steady strides to the second oxer. Approach the first oxer in a forward canter, planning to ride the line to the crossrail in four normal strides. When he lands, drop into your heels and stay tall in your upper body to help him balance for five strides to the crossrail, followed by a steady two strides to the second crossrail.
Here Megan rode a steady five strides from the first oxer to the vertical, then a forward four from the vertical to the second oxer. He competed extensively at the grand-prix level in South America before moving to North America in 1992. We use the arts to rediscover the body, mind, heart connection, support encouragement, & create new resources. The Balimo exercises also improve "cross-coordination"?the communication between the left and right sides of the brain. The best way to promote harmony with him is to work on your own body first, before you ride. If you're as busy as most riders, you need to integrate your body-balance exercise program into your daily life. A proper warm-up will prepare your circulatory, muscular, nervous and hormonal systems to work. Meanwhile, a good warm-up prepares you mentally and emotionally to focus on the task at hand.
Next, roll your ankles toward each other and walk on the insides of your feet (Photo B, below). But to boost your cross-coordination skills, try crossing your midline (an imaginary line down the middle of your body, intersecting with your nose and belly button) with your diagonal limbs. In the next step, twist in the other direction, bringing your right knee and left arm across your body. By revisiting it as adults, we strengthen the connection between the left and right sides of our brains.
Try several variations: crawling forward like a bear, sideways like a crab, with your belly against the ground, or pulling yourself forward with your elbows, commando-style.
Because vision is one of our dominant senses, the movement of our eyes leads the motions of our heads and bodies. Using as little effort as possible, gently shake your head side-to-side to the left and right (as in shaking your head "no") in small movements, about an inch in each direction. This creates a soft, fluid feeling through your hands to the reins and your horse's mouth, improving the consistency and sensitivity of your contact, as well as the precision of your rein and seat aids.
It helps open your chest and loosen tight shoulders, while strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades.
Lift and lower your left arm another eight times, still alternating bending and straightening your wrist. Lift your pelvis off the ground so your torso and thighs are in a straight line and your lower legs are perpendicular to the ground.
Over the past 25 years, he has researched how people learn movement in riding and has worked with the German National Federation to develop curricula for professional and amateur riders, trainers, instructors and judges. MillerMultisport research on brain injuries gives riders all the more reason to wear a certified helmet. He can slow down and accelerate rapidly and negotiate sharp turns at speed without drifting off track. These exercises must progress in a logical, achievable manner that builds both your and your horse’s confidence every step of the way. If he doesn’t master all of the skills in one session, break it into multiple sessions, always ending on a positive, confident note. Her position is correct, with her hands maintaining a light rein contact just above his withers.
Because she stayed light on his back and maintained a nice connection with his mouth, he is relaxed and balanced in his first trot strides, which allows her to soften the reins as they approach the trot poles so he can lower his head, measure his stride to the first trot pole and figure out where his feet belong. In the descending phase of her post here, Megan’s body is very well balanced and moving with the motion of the horse. Similarly, the bit you choose should make you feel as if you can always hold a steady connection.
Use just enough pressure to elicit a response, without ever resorting to being rough—yanking sharply on the reins, for example. Start with leg-yielding, asking him to move sideways away from your leg, and then progress to shoulder-in. Then place a single cavalletti on either side of the three trot cavalletti, 60 feet away on a straight line.
If it feels too short or long, adjust the distance to suit your horse’s individual stride length. If you have trouble staying straight, add cones or poles on the corners to guide your track. Focus on staying straight on your line to the final single cavalletti and balanced in the middle of the saddle.
Many people see professional hunter riders at shows occasionally asking their horses to take big, athletic leaps from long spots.


Allowing your horse to get in the habit of going too fast and long teaches him to arrive at fences at the end of his stride limit—the longest stride he can naturally and comfortably produce.
This time, instead of making a transition to trot after the first cavalletti, bring him down to the walk. His hind legs are already reaching well underneath his body, collecting his stride to fit the five comfortably, which enables Megan to relax in front of the vertical.
She stays out of his way by balancing her body over her feet and looks ahead to the next oxer.
If you had to adjust the striding of the first cavalletti exercises to match your horse’s stride, do so with these distances, as well. When you’re ready, approach the oxer-vertical-oxer line in a medium canter, focusing on straightness. Repeat this a few times before changing direction over a diagonal vertical and repeating the same exercises on the other lead.
This momentum will carry you through the crossrail in-and-out in one stride and the distance to the final oxer in another four normal strides. After the in-and-out, stay balanced in the middle of the saddle to help him produce a steady five strides to the last oxer. Immediately after landing from the vertical, she shifted her weight forward, closed her legs and softened her reins, encouraging Deep Snow to lengthen his stride. He trained with Canadian grand-prix rider Mario Deslauriers before working closely with Frank and Stacia Madden of Beacon Hill Show Stables. We are very excited to share the NEW LOGO & ask you to check back this Spring (2016) for a lite launch of our NEW WEBSITE!
NO ART EXPERIENCE necessarya€¦please leave your baby with a loved one as this is a time just for you and bring an open heart + a pen & journal. This two-article series will show you how to do that with some of Balimo's fun, effective muscle-balancing and cross-coordination exercises.
Your respiration will increase, allowing a speedier delivery of needed nutrients and oxygen to your muscles and prompt removal of their metabolic byproducts, such as lactic acid.
For example, in the saddle, by leaning far to the right and then far to the left, it'll be easier to recognize when you're truly sitting in the center.
Skip everywhere: down the barn aisle, out to the pasture to fetch your horse, from your car to the grocery store.
As a result, you'll find it easier to balance your upper body in the saddle and to maintain a soft contact on the reins.
He is known throughout Germany as an expert in the area of how to teach movement in riding as well as other sports. Knowing that you have accomplished every test you faced at home will make it easier to tackle challenges in the ring, even if they are questions you have never seen before. My exercises will help you both evaluate and improve his rideability, starting with basic flatwork and advancing to cavalletti and jumps. She’s keeping a light rein connection with her hands and is just resting her legs on his sides.
Apply stronger leg aids and soften your hands to encourage him to open up his stride without going so forward that he loses his balance.
Stay within your horse’s comfort level, asking for only as much lateral movement as he can produce easily and only doing a little bit at a time. On the quarterline closer to the first pair of cavalletti, add two more cavalletti set on diagonals, which you will jump while changing directions.
If your space is limited (for example, in a small indoor arena), bring him to a halt after the final jump, still straight on your line, then turn him around and pick up the canter again. Then change direction over a diagonal cavalletti and repeat the forward four and steady six in the other direction. He then has to really reach to get across the jump or cavalletti, which puts him at a greater risk of tripping over it. The goal is still to begin each exercise with very comfortable striding before testing his adjustability. Make all of the oxers square so they can be jumped in both directions, and place ground poles on both sides of each obstacle. If your horse is on the lazy side, he may lose impulsion here, so be ready to close your leg firmly and give a cluck to help him clear the back rail of the final oxer. Leave rejuvinated & take home simple self-care resources that will support you on your incredible journey through motherhood.
German sports physiologist and popular clinician Eckart Meyners has designed an exercise program to help riders overcome problems such as these. Your body temperature will rise, thus lowering the friction between muscle fibers?reducing tension, cramping and the possibility of injury?and stimulating an increase of cartilage-nourishing fluid in your joints. Any misalignment between your head and spine causes stiffness in your occipital joint, which joins your head to your neck. By learning to move your eyes and head independently from one another, you can increase your head's range of motion and allow the rest of your body to move underneath it more freely. Then turn your head slightly to the left and repeat these small head oscillations to the left and right of this new position for another minute.
Next, turn your head right and left while moving your eyes in the opposite direction?for example, looking left while you turn right. Choose smaller spurs and a milder bit to encourage a sense of trust between his mouth and your hands—a rubber or plain snaffle, such as a loose-ring.
Again, this is an easier problem to fix than the loss of connection caused by over-bitting.
These small half-halts will encourage him to accept a soft connection between his mouth and your hands. Whether your horse is strong and needs a firmer hand or sensitive and needs a lighter hand, you must have a connection to him at all times.
The challenges posed by these exercises should result only from the track, not from the heights of the obstacles. By making the initial distances all very easy and comfortable for your horse, you set him up for a safe, positive experience. His frame and stride are already much longer here, which will help him arrive at the second oxer in a comfortable four strides.
He has competed in multiple international competitions, including the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 15 Nations Cups. His Balimo ("BALance In MOtion") Equestrian Program teaches you how to balance your muscles by strengthening the weak ones and loosening the strong, tight ones. The more you enjoy what you're doing, the faster your body will learn and improve?and the more likely you are to keep it up! This is an easy exercise to do while walking around the house, walking the dog or leading your horse.
Or is he less sensitive and strong in the bridle (possibly also traveling with his head and neck too low)? If you remain quiet in the saddle, he will stay calm enough to find a good distance to the obstacle, adding a stride if necessary to produce a nice effort.
Many of his students have succeeded at the top levels in the Junior, amateur and professional divisions. It also helps you to improve your coordination, while "unblocking" tension in your body that inhibits its free movement. Experiment throughout your day, sometimes moving your eyes with your head and other times moving them independently. Consider a bit with leverage, such as a two-ring or gag bit that can bring him to a normal or higher balance. If you intended to turn right and he lands on the left lead, make a flying or simple change a few strides after the jump. All of these benefits will improve your overall balance and will facilitate your body control and awareness in the saddle.
After the vertical, ask your horse to open his stride again to produce four forward strides to the second oxer.




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