I’ll be documenting my progress using the Ride Advanced Physio Pilates for Riders Program over the next year.  I believe this program is going to make a huge difference in my riding and my seat.  I’m excited to document the changes I see while doing the program!  Photos courtesy of Ride Advanced. 

The Backstory

So this story actually starts a couple of years ago…

Back in 2019 I had a baby.  Back in 2019 Spice (my then lease horse and still the horse in my heart) passed away from colic.  Back in 2019 I was flabby, out of shape and struggling on the new horse I was riding.  It was short lived as we were not a match for each other.  During this period I had a clinic with Stephanie from Ride Advanced Physio…and it was a shit show…

How?  Well all I had to do was walk, trot and canter…in a couple circles and on a couple of lines.  And the horse wouldn’t canter.  He wasn’t keen on trotting either.  I was straight up pony kicking and it was an infuriating nightmare for an AA coming back from having a baby and feeling like she had something to prove (I had been showing 4th Level and now I couldn’t get a horse to canter…embarrassing!).  As mentioned above…that horse and I didn’t stay together.  He’s found someone now that can deal with his…temperament…but that person isn’t me.  Ha!

The clinic was unfortunately a waste of money…with little to go off of and not wanting to do much work on me due to my still loose ligaments and things from having a child…Stephanie was able to give me a couple of exercises to balance my hips and that was that.  I never thought about it again other than in irritation and adding the exercises into my routine.

Finding the Program

Fast forward almost two years and I get an email forward from my trainer about the Pilates for Riders program that Stephanie was offering now.  A Pilates program specifically addressed with riders and addressing symmetry and correct riding position?  Sounds great! She was suggesting it to all of her riders that did the equitation seat classes the previous year.   I signed up right away, because that’s the kind of person I am.  Always willing to try something.  Always motivated.  But I’m also the kind of person that moves on fast from things that don’t work for me.  Things that take too much effort, time or money.  I am motivated…but I’m also limited on time, energy and cash due to life circumstances (being a 30something with several part time jobs, a toddler, a house needing constant projects and somehow I manage to write and ride in there too).

The first thing that got me with this program is…it’s so freaking easy to do…and so hard to find excuses for.

What do I mean?  Well…some of the videos are like…12 minutes long.  I CAN fit in 12 minutes.  And on days I can fit in more…I can do more than one video, or one of the longer ones.   Not having time isn’t a real excuse…and I’ve manage to fit in two days of Pilates a week since I started the program 2 and a half months ago.  That’s pretty excellent for me.  I don’t stick to anything except riding that well.

Don’t worry…just because they are short…doesn’t mean you aren’t working.  Things will be sore sometimes, for sure!  And if you need more…hold the postures longer or do more reps.  Easy.

Pilates for Riders - Ride Advanced Physio - The Beginning

Free video available to everyone, go check it out. Click on the Pilates section.

They’re also incredibly easy to follow for all levels.  The explanation of the exercises…and the modifications…and the constant talking through what you’re aiming for while doing them (for instance…the reminders to keep your shoulders down, to engage such and such, to keep your toes on the ground) make these videos the best work out videos I’ve ever done.  It’s SO hard to do something like Yoga or Pilates on a video.  It’s too easy to be in the wrong posture…to engage the wrong compensating muscles…to hurt yourself.  The way these videos are done are excellent for keeping you on the right track.  The fact that I’ve managed to do it for 2 and a half months without hurting myself is a testament in itself if you know me at all.  HA!

And the price is good.  You get 4 videos a month for $50.  You get them all at once so you can do them as you want.  I mean…  A single session at a studio is more than that.  The gym membership I had for YEARS and never used was about that.  A single session with my friend who is a PT is more than that (and I get a discount).  Value is there.  The next tier is an even better deal with 8 workouts a month for $75.

So those things are awesome…but those are not why I’m still here.  I’m still using the program for one very specific moment…

Pilates for Riders - Ride Advanced Physio - The Beginning

The Gotcha Moment

I never thought of myself as a particularly crooked rider.  I mean…I’ve seen people with a lot more obvious physical crookedness than I have…so…I was fine right?

I was doing an exercise in one of the videos.  It was so simple.  So simple I didn’t understand why I was doing it.  When asked to switch sides…I COULDN’T DO THE EXERCISE.  Straight up…couldn’t do it without falling on the floor.  It took several days of attempts and thinking through it to discover what was happening in my body to allow it to be impossible.  Once I figured it out…well…something that had been plaguing my riding for years was instantly solved.  Seriously…just like that.  I still struggle with this exercise due to imbalances, but I can do it now…it’s just a lot harder on one side than the other.

I’m crooked y’all.  Really crooked.  So are you (in case you didn’t know or are in denial like I was).

Pilates for Riders - Ride Advanced Physio - The Beginning

What the player looks like

Discoveries

Your horse can only go as good as you let it.  Your body will affect the way he / she moves.  It will affect the balance, the energy, the freeness of movement.  It will affect stress and tension.  The Contact.  It will absolutely affect your straightness and your horse’s.   Your horse needs you to be your absolute best to be their absolute best.  None of us (well…VERY few of us) are our absolute best.  I’m certainly not.

This program has done something magical to my brain.  It’s made me AWARE of what my body is doing in a way I’d never noticed before.  I have more specific control over my muscles.  Muscles I never knew how to fire individually…I can now.  I have to think hard…but I can make changes.  I can feel my imbalances in the saddle acutely.  It’s actually in the short term made my riding worse I think…because my attention is drawn to issues I ignored before.  So I am focusing on things and changing things and Jax is like…WTF lady…I’ve been doing this thing to compensate for you doing this thing forever…and now I don’t know what to do under you.

This program is not about making you sore and feel beat up (though there are some videos that did make me sore).  It’s not about losing weight.  It’s not about becoming fit.  It’s about bringing awareness to your body and the muscles you need to fire.   It’s about balancing your asymmetries.  It’s about building the strength and muscle endurance you need to really ride your horse in the best way you can to support them.

I’m not at the strength part yet.  I’m not at the balanced part yet.  It’s going to be many months I think before I feel stronger.  Before I feel like it’s more balanced.  Easier.

However I’m at a point right now where I can FEEL my imbalance in the saddle. I can feel what I need to do.  And I can train my body to do it.  And these videos are helping me get there in a very easy way that isn’t time intensive or money intensive.  It’s really quite exciting and excellent.  I’m very excited to see what happens next!