Event Physio – Creating rider symmetry to improve performance; the coach’s role @ Flawborough Equine, Nottinghamshire
Presented by Andy Thomas, who is currently the High Performance Human Science and Sports Medicine Advisor to the US Equestrian Team, and who has previously worked closely with the British Equestrian Federation, this was a hugely interesting day. It focussed around discussion of rider asymmetries an imbalances, functional anatomy & biomechanics, along with practical rider assessments both on and off the horse. Further we explored the role of the coach in identifying & managing imbalances, together with a range of practical exercises to improve rider posture.
It was fascinating to be involved with discussions around the approach of elite riders and how their experiences can translate to use mere mortals. Basically, physios & scientists see the same physical issues in both elite and grassroots riders; the difference being that elite riders generally take professional advice & guidance to fix the issues since they have a direct impact on performance, while grassroots riders focus almost entirely on their horse over themselves!
The biggest learning point of the day was that the majority of rider problems & asymmetries can be corrected by fixing imbalances & weaknesses in the pelvis. The key to a truly independent seat is improving control of the rider’s pelvis, hips & core.
There are a wide variety of on- and off-horse exercises which will improve the rider’s balance & symmetry:
- Riding without stirrups
- Riding on the lunge
- Franklin balls
- Resistance bands
- Correct warm of before riding (for the rider!)
- Pilates and/or yoga
- Observation of the rider’s movement when dismounted
- Video analysis
Many rider imbalances present as problems in opposite sides of the body in a common pattern, for example many riders are weak in their stabilising muscles around the right hip, whilst being excessively tight in the muscles around the left hip.
This was a brilliant day, from a true expert in their specialist field.
Brightwells Elite Performance Horse Sale @ Addington Equestrian Centre, Buckinghamshire
Last weekend, I went to the elite sports horse sales at Addington, and it was fab! I haven’t been to anything like it before, but we saw some amazing young horses and were in awe that people were actually in a position to spend £34k on a 3-year-old! It was lovely to see how well the horses had been produced; we went to look round the stables and all the horses were calm, happy and well-mannered. I would definitely think about buying a youngster from these sales; not all the horses were sold, nor did they all fetch really high prices, however they all came with a full set of X-rays, evidence of two 5* vettings over the previous two weeks, and had been started their ridden careers correctly.
It was great fun to watch the sale happening, but also to see the time & effort put into preparing the youngsters for the event. It’s definitely worth going to watch, if you get the chance.