excercizes using the Equestrian
Ball and Band
on hips. Identify your hip bones and concentrate on them.
Begin with pelvic circles as if you are using a hoola-hoop.
Try not to move your legs or upper body. If you have trouble
at first, have someone hold your knees while you do your circles.
Focus on the pelvis and the movement of the ball while you
do your circles each direction.
on spiraling down to small circles and back out to larger
circles, again concentrating on moving the pelvis in a smooth
manner throughout the circles. Start with 10-20 circles in
each direction and repeat as you feel comfortable and more
Hands on hips. This time you are rolling the ball forward
and backward with the pelvis. Isolate your pelvis and tilt
your belly button up toward your chest and then move the pelvis
backwards by arching your back. Roll through this process
slowly and evenly by going with the ball. Do 20 rolls.
Side to Side
Hands on hips. Roll your pelvis from side to side (left
to right) by bringing the hip up on one side and roll through
to the opposite side. Make this motion smooth and notice any
uneveness. Do 20 side to side rolls.
3 pelvic exercises are the best way to gain flexibility, stretching
and strengthening, and range of motion in your lower back
and pelvic area. You are preparing your body to receive motion
on the horse freely.
Upper Body Work on the Ball
First make sure your shoulders are relaxed and in alignment
by doing the Bubble Gum exercise in my book.
may also want to sit on the ball to do all of your upper body
strength work with hand weights (2-3 lbs each) or with the
Theraband. Make sure, however, that if you use the ball this
way you watch yourself in a mirror. It is very easy to arch
your back when you are lifting weights while sitting on the
ball. Keep your back straight, in alignment and your arms
level and even with your shoulders.
Alignment/Posture on the Ball
Use your ball to find your body alignment.
on the ball as you would on a chair with your feet pointing
straight ahead, 12-14 inches apart and firmly placed on the
ground. Make sure your hips are even with your knees or slightly
above your knees.
your hand under your belt and feel your lower back. Notice
the vertebrae in your spine and where you may have a hollow
space. Most women have this hollow space naturally. Notice
when you bend your upper body over you can feel your spine
sticking out, you can feel the knobs of your vertebrae. Now
come up and arch your back and notice how the spine disappears.
In between those two places is a straight spine.
step, while keeping your hand on your lower back, is to slightly
drop your tail bone down into the ball. Release your lower
back. Did that change the way your spine feels? Hopefully
it feels less hollow and more filled in where your hand is.
your hand on your lower back and place your other hand flat
on your chest. Slowly "float forward". Meaning bring
your chest slightly straight forward without lifting your
rib cage up. Now notice how your lower back feels.
ideal is to feel just the tips of your vertebrae with soft
muscles surrounding the spine. This is a place of alignment
and straightness for your body. Play with this until you get
that feeling in your lower back. Take in a breath and blow
it out like you would a birthday candle. Notice how that changes
goal here is to be able to sit on the ball and find your place
of balance. It is always best to have someone knowledgable
work with you to help you identify your body's biomechanics.
But most of the time you will need to be able to find this
on your own while in the saddle.
this same technique in the saddle. After you mount, bring
your knees up (have your horse headed or if your horse is
safe, standing while you find your balance) on the pommel,
place one hand on your lower back and notice how your spine
feels. Now, place one hand on the pommel and one on the cantle
and adjust your pelvis, slightly (and I mean a sixteenth of
an inch, tiny movement)underneath you and check your lower
back again. Now place your other hand on your chest and slightly
float forward. You should begin to notice the middle place
where your spine is straight and your pelvis is in neutral.
Now drop your legs and check your back again.
will take time and practice but it gives you a check list
to go through on the ball and on the horse.
Horse/Rider and Instructor/Student Ball Work
Have one person sit on the ball and another person facing
them by sitting in a chair or on another ball. The roles here
are interchangable but for a lesson let's say the instructor
is on the ball and the student is sitting in the chair. The
Theraband becomes the connection or reins between the two
instructor on the ball is the rider and the student in the
chair is the horse. The student holds the band in her hands
which simulates the mouth of the horse. The instructor picks
up the other ends of the band like she would hold the reins.
instructor begins to bounce on the ball as if in a trot and
asks the student/horse to close her eyes and just feel. The
instructor/rider demonstrates different ways people give commands
and move on the horse's back such as: Sit up straight (statue
like) and what does that feel like to the student/horse, holding
the breath, leaning back, see-sawing the reins, dropping all
contact with the mouth, one hand tighter than the other, etc.
Be creative and ask the student what each change of the body
feels like through the band. Is there a message? If so what
is the instructor asking the horse to do? If the student is
stunned and confused, wouldn't the horse be too?
the instructor will try to find her balanced place. Again,
continue to ask the student what it feels like as the body
changes. Let out a breath, soften the elbow, keep the connection
on the reins but make them more elastic and try turning each
trade places. Work on posture and body alignment together.
Notice where the tight places are in the body. Are the wrists
relaxed, can you use your stretchy elbows with your upper
body to turn and maintain an even bounce? Keep trying new
issues which are a part of your riding on the ball, it can
be a very helpful tool.
of the ball work is much more easily understood in person.
Try to attend one of my workshops, clinics or presentations
to better grasp these concepts. Keep going on your ball this
winter, your horse will be glad you did!