Why free breathing is essential for horseback riders – 2 how-to tips

©2014 Rengith Krishnan, freedigitalphotos.net

Image © Rengith Krishnan, freedigitalphotos.net

Just breathe. You’ve probably heard that a million times. But why is breathing so important for horseback riders? Freeing your breathing (or holding your breath) has a direct impact on your posture, safety, energy, mental alertness and connection with your horse.

Tip 1: How to know if you’re holding your breath

 You may be thinking: “I’m alive, so I must be breathing, and that’s good enough for me”. I hear you. But try this little experiment to see if you could be breathing freer:

Stand and place your hands on your rib cage. Think of your hands “listening” to your ribs. Notice if your ribs are moving.

If your ribs don’t move (or just move a tiny bit) you have a great opportunity to let go of your habit. Just read on to find out how. It couldn’t be easier.

Breathing and posture in the saddle

 3 types of posture in the saddle:

  1. slumped – collapsed down in front
  2. braced – rigid “military” style posture
  3. neutral – upright spine, head, neck and back in balance

 Slumped or braced postures restrict your breathing and make you pound on your horse’s back like a sack of potatoes.

Neutral posture lets you ride as one with your horse. It’s impossible to achieve neutral posture unless you stop holding your breath and let your ribs move freely.

Breathing and safety on your horse

Holding your breath compromises safety by restricting blood flow. Your brain and other organs like your eyes thrive on oxygen. Letting your ribs move gently without trying to “deep breathe” greatly increases blood flow and improves mental alertness. You have more energy and stamina.

Breathing and connection with your horse

When you breathe freer you’re calmer. It’s easier to release pain. You can be more in tune with your horse, yourself and other people in your life.

Tip 2: How to breathe freer

  1. Stand or sit with your spine upright (not braced or slumped)
  2. Place “listening” hands on your rib cage, and notice if your ribs are moving or not
  3. On your next outbreath, blow the stale air out all the way to the end of your breath like you’re blowing out the candles on a birthday cake
  4. When you come to the end of your breath, close your lips and let the air return through your nose
  5. That’s all there is to it. Blow air out 5 times and notice if your ribs start moving easier.
  6. Notice if you feel more calmer or more energized.

Use this technique whenever you notice you’re holding your breath

For example:

  • Under pressure or stress, like before a show or practicing a test
  • Doing chores, like lifting bales of hay
  • At home or at work, like using the computer
  • When you’re in pain

 Breathing free is so essential to our lives. If you’d like more help with breathing, posture or eliminating pain in the saddle or out, let’s chat (contact me using this form) or come to an event  I’d love to meet you!

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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