Suppleness for Horseback Riders Can’t Be Taught – Or Can it?

Suppleness for RidersWelcome to The Supple Rider Blog! This is my first post and I look forward to connecting with you and hearing your comments.

We all know that suppleness is one of the basic principles of classical riding as it applies to the horse.

But what can suppleness mean for a rider?

Dictionary Definition of Suppleness 1

Easy and fluent without stiffness or awkwardness.

Dictionary Definition of Suppleness 2

The gracefulness and beautiful carriage that is pliant and flexible.

These two definitions are no-brainers. We all want ease and grace … But how do we achieve it? This brings up more questions than answers. (Or the answers are negative tapes playing in our heads.)

  • Is suppleness something we’re born with?
    (“Wow, she’s just effortlessly graceful.”)
  • Is it something that can be drilled into us?
    (“Sit up straight! You have to work hard!”)
  • Does an injury prevent suppleness from ever coming back?
    (“You have to live with your limitations.”)

I believe we are born with suppleness, but we forget it as we grow up, accumulate injuries and not-so-helpful habits.

I believe that suppleness can’t be drilled into us — drills, “shoulds”, and “you have to work hard” got us into a state of tension, awkwardness, pain and lack of confidence in the first place.

Suppleness can’t be taught

That’s a very strong statement. But what I do believe, with every fiber of my being, is that tension, awkwardness, poor confidence and poor posture can be UN-learned so that suppleness can be un-covered and rediscovered.

In my Alexander Technique practice I see it all the time … someone who thought their hip was locked forever letting it move like butter.

The key to rediscovering suppleness

Dictionary Definition of Suppleness 3

Adaptability; the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances.

Adaptability involves looking at what is happening now (“I have a twinge in my low back. Could that be making me hold away from the saddle?”).

Not what we wish was happening (“Boy, I sure wish my back didn’t hurt–I can’t wait to have a cup-cake and make it better”).

Not what happened in the past. (“Twenty years ago I never had back pain”).

Having a supple attitude means coming into the moment and lovingly acknowledging what is. A supple attitude lets you look at your options in the moment and take the best action. Change is possible, but we have to start where we are now.

Suppleness of attitude is the first step to achieving suppleness of the body.

About Emily Clark

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website or blog. Just make sure to include the bio and link below at the end of the article.

Emily Clark, of TheSuppleRider.com, is an Alexander Technique Certified Instructor who teaches horseback riders of all disciplines to eliminate pain and improve their posture so they can ride as one every ride.

She’s worked with equestrians for over 11 years. She loves working with riders because they’re so passionate about what they do.

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