Everything we do in our sport is surrounded by movement. We analyze how a horse stops, how a horse turns, on and on. Whether a horse stops on their front end or hind end determines how much power the horse has in that movement, how much the horse scores in that maneuver, or the longevity of their career. We analyze where a horse's foot fall pattern is throughout a turn. The list goes on and on. So with that being said our sport comes down to movement.
Our lives come down to movement. The horse was created as a prey animal. His life in the wild depends upon his ability The horse's ability to travel settled this great country. So it stands to reason that not only do we need to analyze it and correct it when it isn't right. But maybe not correct as much as facilitate. We need to protect their power by making sure they are physically fit to do what we ask. Our performance horses are asked to perform at the top of their game day in and day out. But as we continue to push our horse's limits, we need to turn the mirror on ourselves.
Our movement is a factor into our horse's performance. Movement is paramount to not only our survival, but how we thrive. Our movement affects how our horses move. These horses are so athletic , so amazing that they will weight shift and compensate for our movements. In timed events or racing, these extra movements will cost you time which will cost you money. In judged events, extra movement may cost you points on a particular maneuver.
Movement is so powerful that not only does it affect our horses, our performance, and our health but it can affect us mentally. We can use to our advantage to prepare for our performance. We study movement physically through anatomy and biomechanics. But we have also studied how movement affects us mentally. A great example of this is the Power Pose studied by Amy Cuddy, PhD (www.amycuddy.com) This is essentially the superhero pose. Through her research she found that by changing your posture and movement, you affect your presence, your hormones and feelings. This has been shown to affect people with stressful situations in which their performance was needed to count. I know for me and my riding performance, this was very helpful in my warm up. If I felt tight, I would feel my shoulders rounding over and I would be start to become small. We all know if we ride with rounded shoulders, forward lean that the results are usually less than awesome. So for the PT nerd and horsemanship nerd in me, I find the power pose fascinating. I like when common sense and science meet up.
Movement is the most powerful aspect of our makeup. It is also often under utilized. Movement is healing. Movement is powerful. Movement is forward. So let's not only analyze it for performance, let's embrace movement more so that we including our horses can be at their best.
Farley Schweighart is a Physical Therapist who helps riders and their horses heal from injury, improve performance, and return to winning.