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Posts Tagged ‘Betsy Steiner’

MusofLocFB

The major muscles of locomotion in the horse.

A basic understanding of how the horse’s muscles create movement is essential to riders and trainers as they seek answers to training issues, and it also allows them to play an active part in keeping the horse pain-free and performing well by including bodywork in their regular care regimen.

In THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED WITH THE MASTERSON METHOD Jim Masterson and Coralie Hughes teamed up with Grand Prix dressage rider Betsy Steiner and creator of the Anatomy in Motion VISIBLE HORSE and VISIBLE RIDER Susan Harris to provide a practical level of baseline biomechanics knowledge to support solutions to dressage training problems. Susan Harris painted the primary muscles involved in the work of the dressage horse on an equine accomplice, and hundreds of photographs capture their activity as the horse was then ridden through various movements.

“Muscles can’t push, they can only ‘pull’ (contract) or ‘not pull’ (relax),” says dressage rider and Masterson Method practitioner Coralie Hughes in the book. “Relaxation is as important as contraction—or strength—in the muscle….Tension that inhibits the muscle from being able to fully relax or contract reduces range of motion of the joint with the resultant impact on performance. Furthermore, a muscle that is tight is putting unnatural tension on its tendon, which can actually torque the skeleton. Prolonged unnatural tension can potentially cause tendon and joint damage in the feet and legs.”

For more on the specific biomechanics of the dressage horse, as well as dozens of Masterson Method techniques to relieve tension in the muscles, ease discomfort, and improve the horse’s performance overall, check out THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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July4 2014

 

No matter our favorite breed of horse or chosen discipline; whatever our age or skill level, if we ride horses, we yearn for a balanced, stable, and independent seat that allows us to move with the horse and direct him using subtle aids without interfering with his ability to perform.

In honor of July 4, 2014, we at TSB are sharing four of our favorite exercises to help develop a little seat independence in all of us:

 

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The Teeter-Totter from Centered Riding 2 by Sally Swift

  • Stand quietly and comfortably erect, feet slightly apart.
  • With your whole body straight, tip forward as far as you can without having to take a step to catch yourself.
  • Hold yourself in this extreme position with your feet quiet. Notice how much tension there is in your body, your feet, legs, torso, and neck.
  • Come back to a balanced position in the center and relax.
  • Now lean backward and notice again the degree of tension in your whole body, especially up the front of your thighs and torso.
  • Come back to the center and feel the freedom and ease of being in what I call “pure balance.”
  • Now imagine you are on your horse–you need to be in “pure balance” with your center directly over your feet to ensure you are not unconsciously transferring tension to the horse. This “pure balance” applies to all seats and disciplines. Practice the Teeter-Totter exercise regularly to build and maintain awareness of your balance and center.

 

 

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2  Push Hands from A Gymnastic Riding System Using Mind, Body, & Spirit by Betsy Steiner

  • Stand squarely facing a partner, hands at your sides.
  • Reach out to your partner, and have your partner reach out to you, and place your hands palm to palm. You should be close enough that your elbows, and your partner’s elbows, are slightly bent. Your knees should also be slightly bent.
  • Have your partner give you a vigorous push with her left hand while you try to keep your right hand and shoulder from moving. As you resist the push, you’ll feel tension and resistance in your entire body and maybe lose your balance and have to take a step back.
  • Now have your partner again give you a push with her left hand. This time, release your right hand and shoulder and allow them to go where your partner moves them.  When you “release” in this way, allowing your shoulder to move backward and your partner’s had to go forward, the tension of the push is dissipated and there is no resistance in your body.
  • Repeat the exercise with the opposite hands.
  • Push Hands shows us how the horse and rider must “give” to each other, and how the rider must be able to receive pressure as well as apply it by being supple and centered. When you’re relaxed in your arms and shoulders, for example, you are able to maintain your balance and center. Try to achieve the same “give-and-take” of pressure with the horse when you ride.

 

 

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Find Your Flat Back from 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes by Wendy Murdoch

  • Sit on the edge of a flat bench or chair. If possible, do so beside a mirror so you can see what your back looks like when it is flat.
  • Place the back of one hand on your lower back. Make sure your hand is on the waist area, not the sacrum.
  • Place your other hand palm up under one seat bone and rest on your hand. Feel how your lower back and seat bones change position in relation to each other when you hollow, round, or flatten your lower back.
  • Gradually change from one position to the other making smaller and lower movements until you have a definite feeling that your back is flat and broad. Notice what happens to your weight on the bench or chair. Do your buttocks muscles soften? Can you sink back into your hips as if to sit more deeply? When your back is flat, the seat bones will follow the line of the your back.
  • Repeat the exercise in the saddle. As your back hollows, your seat bones point back toward your horse’s tail; as your back rounds, your seat bones point forward toward your horse’s head; when your back is flat, your seat bones follow the line of your back, straight from head to seat. A flat back stabilizes your pelvis and upper body so that you feel more secure in the saddle.

 

 

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Plank on Mat: Knees from The Riding Doctor by Beth Glosten, MD

  • Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat.
  • Bend your elbows and keep them by your sides, placing your forearms on the mat. Bend your knees so your lower legs are off the floor.
  • While keeping your shoulders stable, lift yourself onto your knees and forearms into a suspended plank position. Seek a long and neutral spine position, and avoid pulling your shoulders up around your ears. Try to keep your pelvis level–it shouldn’t be pushed up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • This is a fantastic integrating exercise for core muscle function and shoulder and leg support, stabilizing spine alignment. In the saddle, you want stability of the spine–that is, despite changes in forward or sideways energy, you want to keep your body in a balanced upright position.

 

Happy Independence Day from Trafalgar Square Books!

Visit our online bookstore at www.HorseandRiderBooks.com, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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TSB spent much of its day at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby.

TSB spent much of its day at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby.

We faced the morning—our first in Florida after our whirlwind exploration of Ft. Worth, Texas, and its environs—with great optimism in terms of the weather: The sun was struggling out from behind the clouds and the grass in West Palm Beach is most certainly green. One step out-of-doors, however, sent us running back up the eight floors we’d just descended in search for the jackets and sweatshirts we’d at first so blithely left behind. It was COLD today!!!

Despite our issues with the GPS in Texas, we for some foolish reason thought technology deserving of a second (third?) chance, but of course it brought us only to the very-much-locked gate (no doubt the “rear” entrance) of the gated horse community in which the Palm Beach Dressage Derby was taking place…so we waited for some kind, semi-local soul with a key code to come along and let us follow him in. I’ve never been in an area where the law states (and signage, too!) that drivers must proceed slowly due to the presence of horses…it made me feel rather empowered, despite the fact that I was behind the wheel and not in the saddle. I guess it helps to know that somewhere, sometimes, horses and riders get the right of way and a little respect from passing motorists.

We spent a jolly morning with Kathy Connelly, international dressage rider, trainer, and coach; met up with TSB author Jane Savoie’s husband Rhett; and had an absolutely terrific time with Yvonne Barteau and the ever-engaging GP Raymeister, the handsome Holsteiner stallion she’s trained and ridden for seven years. Ray is full of character, and we always love getting the chance to see him go!

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We finally left the Derby grounds to visit with Betsy Steiner, author of A GYMNASTIC RIDING SYSTEM USING MIND, BODY & SPIRIT, and had the pleasure of watching her long-line two very different (in terms of conformation, personality, and way of going) horses as she explained her views on the benefits of long-line work. It was really fun to go through her barn with her and see the variety of horses she has in training, including Warmbloods, a Lusitano, and two Fjords!

We wrapped up our day with dinner in Wellington with TSB author and USEF “R” Hunter/Hunter Equitation judge Geoff Teall (yes, more eating!), which helped us segue from our day in “dressage land” to tomorrow’s show jumping Grand Prix. We’ll post photos and news from the event here on our blog, FB, Twitter, and Instagram.

I’m sure hoping the Florida weather gods will turn a kind (aka warm) eye toward us poor Northeasterners with only a short-term pass to the land of sun, but we hear it will again be COLD tomorrow…and it may even RAIN.

And believe it or not, even in the cold, Martha and I both somehow managed to end the day with a sunburn! I know that when in Wellington one shouldn’t really complain, but it just doesn’t seem fair…

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This Mother’s Day, Trafalgar Square Books wants to take the opportunity to give a nod of recognition to all the hard-working moms out there, and particularly to the ones who have provided the books and DVDs from which the rest of us have had the opportunity to learn. A number of our authors are professional riders, trainers, veterinarians, writers, photographers, and filmmakers, in ADDITION to being “Mom.” That’s the remarkable thing about these women…they find a way to balance careers, relationships, child-rearing, with their own hobbies and passions. We admire them, and we thank them.

We had hoped to feature a photo of each of our authors and writers who are also mothers, but the funny thing is, when we contacted many of them and asked for a picture to share with our readers this Mother’s Day, many responded with a, “I’m NEVER in the pictures!” or “I’m always the one TAKING the pictures!” or “I haven’t been in a picture with my kids since they were babies!”

So a call to all partners and relatives out there: THIS MOTHER’S DAY, TAKE PICTURES OF THE MOTHERS YOU KNOW WITH THEIR KIDS!

In the meantime, join us in celebrating Mother’s Day by CLICKING HERE to see our specials at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE. Enter the coupon code MOM20 at checkout to receive 20% off your entire order! (Cannot be combined with other offers and expires 5-17-12.)

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A few weeks ago, I began taking a Pilates class in my building. I haven’t take a group exercise class since I decided to learn how to box (I was 22 and living on my own in a strange city…I thought it was a pretty well time-tested form of self-defense), but I’ve long wanted to see what this Pilates thing is all about. Sure, the references to Jennifer Aniston’s streamlined body and the credit Sex and the City’s Samantha gave to her fabulous form provided temptation to sample the trend years ago. But it took us publishing and distributing not one but FOUR books (and a DVD) on how Pilates can help you ride better to finally get me on the mat.

In one class, I was a convert. I couldn’t believe the parallels between what my Pilates instructor was saying and the cues riding coaches and clinicians had given me over the years. One particular moment comes to mind: I remember circling dressage rider Tuny Page for the majority of an hour, without stirrups, as she had me practice initiating transitions from my seat, using a lengthening (or “lightening”) of my body and tightening of my abdominal muscles to move up or down, to lengthen or shorten stride. (I also remember barely being able to stand up when I finally dismounted following that lesson.)

On Monday, my Pilates instructor had me practicing these very same concepts as she moved me through a number of preps. The whole session I kept thinking, “I’m going to be SUCH a better rider next time I get on a horse!”

Of course, I’m not fool enough to think this is the magic ingredient guaranteed to make the very complex concoction that is riding horses both easy and always good…but I am thoroughly convinced that for those who can incorporate the basic concepts of Pilates into their regular fitness regimen, better, more confident, and more subtle riding WILL be attained.

To boil it down for you, here, courtesy of the TSB bestseller PILATES FOR RIDERS, are five ways doing Pilates makes you a better rider:

1  RELAXATION  Awareness of tension and knowing how to release it is an important part of Pilates practice, and riding without tension ensures you can be in tune with your horse and communicate clearly with him.

2  ALIGNMENT  Pilates aims to align your body correctly so all the systems within it can function properly. You need to be aligned correctly in the saddle in order to communicate clearly with your horse.

3  BREATHING  Much of Pilates practice is focused on breath and using a breathing method that strengthens the abdominals and energizes the body. Proper use of your breath on horseback ensures that you move with your horse’s movement.

4  FOCUS & PRECISION  Pilates teaches you to focus on individual parts of your body in order to gain maximum benefit from the exercises. Isolating sections of your body in the saddle enables you to apply aids independently and with a good sense of timing while maintaining proper position.

5  CONTROL & STAMINA  Pilates teaches you to build an awareness of muscle control in every part of your body, and builds muscle endurance particularly in areas of spinal support. Greater control over your body, and the ability to maintain position even when you aren’t thinking about it, makes you far more able to influence your horse’s balance and movement.

Check out TSB’s selection of books that show you how to use Pilates to become a better rider—all titles are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE. And don’t forget our BLOG BONUS!!! Enter the coupon code TSBBLOG15 at checkout and receive 15% off your entire order!

PILATES FOR RIDERS

PILATES FOR EQUESTRIANS

PILATES FOR DRESSAGE RIDERS (Book)

PILATES FOR DRESSAGE RIDERS (DVD)

A GYMNASTIC RIDING SYSTEM USING BODY, MIND, & SPIRIT

 

–Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor

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TSB author Betsy Steiner, winner of the Premier Equestrian Sportsmanship Award

International dressage rider and trainer Betsy Steiner, author of the best-selling book A GYMNASTIC RIDING SYSTEM USING MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT, won the Premier Sportsmanship Award while competing Joli Burrell’s Fino at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby at White Fences in Wellington, Florida, in early March.

The Premier Sportsmanship Award, sponsored by Premier Equestrian (a leading supplier of dressage arenas, jumps, arena footing, and stable accessories) is awarded to a rider who displays a high level of sportsmanship during competition.

Steiner says the secret to each and every ride is the simple fact that she loves her horses and she loves competing.”I love all the horses I compete, and Fino just happens to be one of the best,” she shared with her trademark warmth.

When first released, Steiner’s book introduced the dressage world to her system of Pilates for equestrians (Equilates) while providing riders with a clear training system that intertwines facets of mind, body, and spirit (of both horse and rider) with the Classical Training Pyramid. Check it out at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

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