3."Heavens, I don't have to do everything so that my muscles scream!?!" Towards easier horse riding.

Päivitetty: 10. kesäk.

This blog is a part of a series of texts where I report the results of a customer survey that I conducted in 2021. The introduction to the series is here. In this blog I will continue reporting the answers to questions 1. “Why did you start learning the Alexander Technique?” and 2. “Did you get what you were looking for? If yes/ no, describe it with a few sentences.”

94 people responded to the survey. 60 persons out of 94 had started learning the AT because they were looking for an improved body control.

25/ 60 were seeking help to their sporting activity. 15/25 of them came to seek tools for easier horse riding. Four of them wanted help in communicating with the horse also when handling the horse and working with them from the ground.

It is very common for riders to worry about their seat. Seat is defined here as the quality of the riders’ posture and movement while riding the horse as effortlessly and as efficiently as possible. The responding riders were seeking for a better seat (5), four also used the term “riding position”. Further, they looked for more purposeful (5), easier (5) and more economical (5) movement on the horse, moving from a static position to a more mobile posture and movement (4), improved balance (4), the ability to be more relaxed while riding (4), and symmetry in the body (3).

All but one received help and/ or tools for their riding and other activities with the horse. The one respondent is not sure whether they received help specifically for riding, where the problem was that they found themselves squeezing the horse with their legs. Their riding was interrupted because of an accident shortly after they started taking the AT-lessons. They said, however, that they have reached other help from the AT to their life in general. Their balance has improved, and their pain caused by osteoarthritis has reduced.

Two general insights emerge from the riders’ responses: 1) According to the respondents, the AT teaches you to stop unnecessary effort. This leads into not only more economical movement but also into the other more relevant ways of being and moving that the riders looked for when they started learning the technique; 2) The found the little pause between the stimulus and the action (inhibition) very useful. When the riders learn to prevent the first reaction or pattern of movement in changing situations, they say they can act in a different manner from before. This allows them to change the things that stress the riding. The riders expressed astonishment about how their seat and other activities seemed to become easier and more relevant by just stopping something (as opposed to doing something more or trying a little harder as before). It was repeated by the respondents in various ways that the body seems to know how to be and move if you just “leave it be and allow it to move”. Another prevailing theme in the responses to question 2. was that the AT helps to develop riding skills but that the same tools are also helpful in other life situations.

The respondents who sought things that are here called as “static” (correct positions, symmetry) seemed to have gained things that are here called “dynamic”: improved control in how they could use their body (3), riding less tensed than before learning the AT (2), and unrestricted movement (1). The respondents also mentioned increased body awareness (3) and clearer communication with the horse (2). On the other hand, none of the respondents who sought “dynamic” factors, would report having gained “static” changes.

Five respondents mentioned that the technique only works if you apply it, or that there is still a lot to learn after a few private lessons. One said that “it was only when combined with other psychosomatic methods that the AT really sunk in”. Three respondents said that it was difficult to apply the technique because it requires so much thinking and presence. The familiar harmful habits seem to come back easily and applying the AT tools requires both motivation and discipline. This is hardly news to the committed, it has been perceived in some studies, e.g. a small study in the British public health sector on the effects of the AT on pain relief noted that the technique produced promising results for those who were motivated enough https://alexandertechnique.co.uk/research/taking-charge-choosing-new-direction-service-evaluation-alexander-technique-lessons-pain.

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