And stretch!

This weekend, mother and I are involved in a Method Putkisto Deep Stretch course at our neighbor's riding school Equstom. On Wednesdays we have had a Method Putkisto Pilates lesson, but this course is different in the way that you are not exercising, you are stretching your deep inner muscles.

The main idea with Method Putkisto is to work from the inside out. When you go to the gym, you work on your outer superficial muscles, whereas with MP, you start from deep within, so that you first engage your core, and only then proceed to the outer muscles. When you engage your core, you also start to bring your posture back to its natural postural alignment. Due to most people working on their computers, the most common problem is the sway back posture, where the shoulders are hunched forwards. Sitting like this on a horse does not look good!

Postural alignments
You might think why would a rider be interested in doing Pilates and stretching, and that shouldn't we take more and more riding lessons to improve as riders instead of doing ground work? But as a rider, your posture effects your riding as much as your riding skills. If you have a crooked body or back, so that you are sitting and leaning forwards, this effects the way your horse moves because the horse has to deal with a lot more weight on their shoulders. A well balanced rider results in a well balanced horse,  who is thereby more responsive and alert. I think it's important to be aware of your body and how you effect your horse.
Improving your posture with Pilates improves your posture when riding
During today's (Saturday) 2 hour lesson, we didn't do anything special, it was just a different stretch after stretch after stretch. At first during the warm up I was thinking that this would be easy, that the four Pilates lessons that I have been to already have helped me and so I wouldn't struggle too much. Well, wrong once again. Deep stretching really shows you where your muscles have shortened and where you need to continue to stretch. My weakest parts are my legs and my hip joint. During the stretches that concentrated on these places I had to focus on my breathing because if I hadn't I would have either fainted, passed out from pain or had a hysterical laughing attack. From now on, I will include these stretches in particular to my exercise plan.

And just after one lesson, I could already feel a massive difference in my body. First, I rode Rama. He has gotten much better after his treatment, and is now nearly fully sound and isn't sore anymore. I did some very basic work, trot and canter on a long rein and then after some collection, a couple of flying changes were attempted (they have become a little rusty!) But we were both very happy, and I was able to concentrate on my body and how it had changed. I was straighter, stronger in my core and a lot more relaxed. Although I feel like I am normally relaxed anyway, the stretches that opened up the hip joint have made my legs much longer by opening my hips more, thus giving me a deeper and more relaxed seat = a very happy girl! 

I then rode Vallu, and decided to do some pole work today since for the last couple of days I had concentrated on leg yields and shoulder-in. I had put down a group of three poles at one end, and before that a single pole. 

This was really fun, and a really good exercise when you can only do walk! After spending about 15 minutes walking over these in both directions, I then decided to walk around the poles in small circles (10m) along the long side and mixing this up with shoulder-in. In the end Vallu ended being very relaxed and flexible, which was great! 

And I just had to share the photo below, my baby horse Basse looks so sweet in this! This was just before he had to go to work, which meant that I was more than 20 minutes late from my timetable because I had to cuddle him! ♡
Sweet dreams to everyone!

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