Remember when you first learned to ride? You nervously sat atop your horse listening to numerous instructions: “Heels down, chin up, lower your hand etc.” These instructions many times were followed by the instruction: “Now Just Relax.”
Well, that statement is a very important one. When tense you become unbalanced; stiff, and your joints lock. You tend to sit on the end of your spine and your horse cannot “move through you”. A rider that is relaxed, breathing evenly and smoothly with loose joints has the ability to “connect” with the horse. The rider’s muscles maintain a very subtle movement that allows the horse the freedom to move through him. The result is the union of horse and rider’s energy moving together. Equi-Yoga is a wonderful program that takes exercises from yoga and brings them to the horse and rider to achieve this connection. It is also a fun way to get fit while spending time with your horse.
I am a certified “Equi-Yoga” Instructor who trained under the founder of the program Marty Whittle. Marty is the former owner of Top Cat Farm in Conneticut. She is a Level III Hunt Seat Instructor and a Level II Dressage Instructor, as well as a Yoga Instructor. She received the Circle of Honor Instructor of the Year Award presented by the American Riding Instructor’s Association for the development of the Equi-Yoga program.
My Equi-Yoga program is a HORSE ACTIVITY designed to be FUN and to BENEFIT BOTH HORSE AND RIDER. The rider will learn to become more balanced, flexible and stronger with gentle exercises that are not stressful on the joints. They will learn to keep their joints loose, relaxed and stay in-sync with their horse. Any rider of any age can have fun and benefit from Equi-Yoga. I am not a Yoga instructor; there is no mat work or meditation and minimal yoga terminology used. My focus is on the horsemanship and bringing these exercises I am certified in, to the rider.
EQUI-YOGA PROGRAM OUTLINE
1. Why Yoga?
Learn the similarities between Horsemanship and Yoga and how yoga exercises can help your riding.
2. Your Body-Your Goals
Learn how the different parts of your body effect your riding when tense or locked. Learn the goals needed and practiced to correct these problems.
3. Breathing and Riding
Learn the importance of correct breathing when riding. Exercises to help promote proper breathing.
4. Warm Ups
Slow range of motion exercises to loosen joints before beginning the Equi-Yoga poses.
5. Stand Still Equi-Yoga
Exercises done mounted with the horse at a stand still.
6. Walking Equi-Yoga
Exercises done at a walk with the horse being led or on a lounge line.
7. Trotting Equi-Yoga
More advanced; the trotting exercises will be done after accomplishing the Stand Still and Walking exercises.
My Equi-Yoga classes can be done as private lessons or as group lessons with you and your horse at your farm or stable. Equi-Yoga Clinics can also be arranged. As always, safety is the most important factor with any program. To have a group lesson I feel working in pairs is the best option. A handler to spot the rider and handle the horse while the rider is performing the exercises. Then they may switch; using the same or different horse, whichever they prefer.
With the Walking exercises, the horse may be led if the rider feels more confident that way; or lounged if the horse is experienced in lounging. The horses used in Equi-Yoga must be able to allow the rider to move around in the saddle and on his back. . This is not a class that involves acrobatics (you may see some of this type on youtube). However, the horse must be calm enough to stand quietly and walk or lounge with a rider moving in the saddle, bending over his neck, shifting his weight etc.
BONUS CLASS: Why not start the course outline by learning about Equi-Yoga in a relaxed setting at a home, the barn or even outside at a picnic table? While learning about Equi-Yoga, a craft project of making a Rhythm Bead Necklace for your horse will be done. The Rhythm Bead Necklace will be helpful once you start doing moving exercises on the horse. Not only a fun way to start the cours,e but also offers plenty of time for questions and conversation related to Equi-Yoga. Just let me know if you would like to add this to the course!
Young or old; this activity is a fun way to get in shape with your horse and connect better with him! Please contact me with any questions you may have. Thank you very much for your time!!
~ Scherri Edwards
You may also email the website on the Contact Page.