Tag Archives: riding

Perfect posture for that perfect ride – equestrian fitness starts with standing tall

“Stand up straight. Don’t hunch” …I don’t know about you, but as a teenager, my parents were constantly commenting on my posture. It bothered me at the time but now, as I am getting older (not old;), I am realizing the long term effects that could arise from having a poor stance. A few years ago, I started taking yoga classes – not just to improve my riding posture – but my every day posture and my core strength. Several daily simple exercises, combined with stretching, have made a big improvement for me on the ground and in the saddle.

In the current issue of Wellness magazine, I read a very interesting article written by Gina Allan about posture and how it affects us while riding:

Why Rider Fitness & Posture are so important

You pay attention to your horse’s fitness program, but as a rider, it’s also important to understand how vital your own fitness it. It is your responsibility to ensure you have good body awareness and posture when you ride, so when you initiate even the subtlest movement in your position, you will know and expect your horse’s response. Horses can’t achieve good balance and self-carriage if their riders are unable to maintain their own self-carriage. Proper posture and understanding the dynamics of your seat and back, and how they affect the horse, are essential.

Back health issues affect up to 90% of the population and 66% of those affected are between 20 and 50 years of age. Muscles that are too loose and weak, or too tight, cause 90% of muscular and skeletal injuries; therefore, it is best to ensure that your posture, core strength and back health are in good condition before you set foot in the stirrup. Most injuries are due to muscles that are too tight or inflexible, or that lack sufficient strength. Injuries can also be caused by a fixed or repetitive motion with inadequate rest, or muscles that have not been properly warmed up prior to a workout.

Stretching for Strength
First comes the stretch, then comes the strength. Muscles are technically stronger than bones and act as the body’s pulley system, maneuvering and affecting the bones. The muscles determine the shape the body will take, so if you slouch, your muscles will pull the bones into that position, eventually shortening the muscles creating the constant slouching position. Once we have adopted poor posture, any attempt to use the muscles correctly will likely feel wrong. It will take time to make shifts in the body’s patterning and muscle memory in order to change it back. It is by using this awareness and patience that we can restore muscle balance and reawaken our underused muscles, gradually coaxing them to work harder. The “too strong” and likely “too short” muscles need to stretch and relax a little so we can restore balance and maintain good posture. This will enable us to ride with balance, ease of movement and athletic grace.

Common Postural Concerns
1. The hunched or rounded upper back, known as “kyphosis”, is a common postural problem. It can inhibit breathing, interfere with digestion, and cause tremendous stress to the discs between the vertebral segments of the thoracic spine. All this offers little support to your equine partner and often results in pushing him onto the forehand. Stretching through the front chest muscles and strengthening the mid-upper back muscles can help correct this problem as long as the kyphosis is not too advanced.

2. Another common postural problem is a protruding belly, or “lordosis”. It may result from tight hip flexors and poor abdominal strength. Although the “potbelly” may not necessarily be caused by weak abdominal muscles, the forward tilt to your pelvis will likely block your horse through his back, disallowing the hind leg energy to travel through his body.

With good posture, you will remain connected to the saddle and to your horse’s back at all times. With your feet rested properly on the stirrups, you’ll most likely feel a greater, more consistent connection to your horse throughout your ride”.

So much to work on but there IS hope for all of us…and help in the form of some very good exercises! I will share some of Gina’s exercise suggestions with you later this month.

For now, it’s off to do a little daily yoga practice,
Until next time,
Robyn

“You sit like a soup sandwich” George Morris

Gina is an Equine Canada Certified Level II Hunter/Jumper Coach, a Level III Theory Coach, and is pursuing her Level III Dressage Coaching Certificate. Gina’s vast experience includes three years studying and riding with former Canadian Equestrian Jumper Coach, Frank Selinger in Alberta before moving to Pennsylvania where she trained with International Dressage Clinician and author, Paul Belasik.

On the fitness side, Gina is a BCRPA Certified Group and Third Age Fitness Instructor, a Yoga Instructor and a Specialist Instructor in Pilates. She graduated from Capilano University where she majored in Lifestyle Counselling and Kinesiology. She has worked with Doctors and Physiotherapists to develop specialty modules including Back Care and Posture Assessment.

For more information, visit Gina’s website at:
http://www.ginaallen.ca

How to have happy teens? Let them horseback ride the stress away

Horseback riding. By definition, is the sport or activity of riding horses; however, for those of us who ride, we know that it is far more than just that. We all lead busy lives and barn time is time away from work, home and school stress – which, for teenagers, is an especially difficult time in life.

Who doesn’t remember the challenges that we faced in our teen years, whether it was getting good grades at school, being part of a socially accepted peer group, finding the right part time job or just getting along with our families. Today, teenagers face far more pressure than ever before. University admissions are increasingly competitive, which means students are constantly striving to earn top marks in order to get into their university of choice. And then, there is the stress of social media. Being perfect. All the time. Because everything is posted whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. and everybody sees it. It’s an acceptance that many of us didn’t have to deal with but unfortunately, our children (and my students) do.

Stress causes many physical and emotional side effects such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, sleep and eating disorders and even suicide. So, how do WE – as parents/adults – help our teens reduce their stress levels? Studies have been shown that exercise is one of the best ways AND combined with the love of an animal, it’s a perfect match! I teach many teenagers – in fact, they currently make up the largest number of my riding students. Yes, they have fun when they are here, taking “selfies” with their horses as they groom, snap chatting silly moments in the barn BUT…once they enter the barn, taking on the responsibility of caring for their horse and then concentrating on riding, I can see the stress they may walk in with, disappear.

One of my adult students came across this article written by Ella Innes which gives insight into how horseback riding can help with teen stress:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2613211/Spending-time-horses-make-teenagers-stressed-study-reveals.html

So, if horseback riding CAN and DOES relieve the stress of your teen, why not let them give it a try? Who knows, they just might start putting in as much effort into cleaning their room as they do sweeping the barn or grooming their horse;)

Until next time,
Robyn

Melting snow and shedding ponies…it’s time for the Foxwood Spring 2016 Newsletter!

We’ve enjoyed an amazingly mild season and it’s been great having so many of our riders enjoying horse riding lessons this winter (and we haven’t even had to open up the “hot shot” box;)!

It’s going to be a busy spring at Foxwood: lessons, shows, our show team and our fundraiser, which will “kick off” March 5 with our Swap days. We will be doing some fundraising this year to purchase a very important piece of equipment for the barn – a defibrillator.

Our spring registration for lessons officially starts this week and we have made some changes to the scheduling to accommodate more classes.

Lesson Information
Our spring session starts the week of Monday, March 21. The
13 week session is $585 including HST. Payment options include cheque, MasterCard, Visa and American Express and payment may be made in 2 installments: the first payment due the week of March 21 and the balance due May 1, 2016.

Spring Schedule for lessons:
Mondays – Novice, Intermediate, Advanced
Tuesdays – Beginner (2 classes), Advanced
Wednesdays – Novice, Adult, Advanced
Thursdays – Beginner, Novice, Advanced
Fridays – Adult (am), *Show Team practice pm
Saturdays – Beginner, Novice/Int./Advanced

If you do not know what level your rider is, please email me: ridefoxwood@gmail.com

As there have been some issues surrounding our makeup policy, effective March 21, there will be 2 preset makeup dates for the spring session, which will be held the week of June 20th. Each rider is permitted to have 1 makeup/session. As it is very difficult to reschedule and make changes to existing classes, we appreciate your cooperation.

Foxwood Spring Horse Show
The tentative date for our spring horse show at Foxwood is Sunday, May 29th. This is open to all Foxwood riders with the beginner/novice classes in the morning and the intermediate/advanced classes in the afternoon. More information will be posted in the barn in April.

Foxwood Show Team 2016
It’s going to be a fantastic show year for our team with our participation at 2 different series: Bronze level and schooling. The mandatory show meeting is on Saturday, February 6th in the tack room at 1:45pm. Anyone interested in competing on the team this year must be in attendance.

Ontario Equestrian Rider Levels
For those students interested in continuing with their OEF rider levels, once again, we will be offering horsemanship classes with Wendy Eagle (who lectures at the University of Guelph), once per month on the following dates:

Saturday, Feb 6– 1:30 pm – 3:30pm
Saturday, March 26 – 1:30 – 3:30 pm

If your rider is working on Level 1/2 , classes are $20. Foxwood students will be given the opportunity to test for their levels in the late spring of 2016 and there will be more classes available for April and May.

All information on future class dates will be posted in the tack room and on our Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/Foxwood-Farms-Bradford-Ontario-106886766016951

Foxwood SWAP DAYS
Start cleaning out your clean barn clothing (no helmets) and bring to Foxwood to sell to other Foxwood riders. Swap starts Saturday, March 5 and will run to Saturday, April 2. 10% of your proceeds will go to our fundraiser. Items not picked up after April 6 will be donated.

Foxwood Swag
Show your barn spirit with a Foxwood jacket, cap or tee! Order forms for Foxwood swag are on the tack room bulletin board and we will be placing orders twice per month. *New this spring – Foxwood saddlepads!

Foxwood Summer Camp
Our summer camp registration forms are out and as in the past, our spaces fill up quickly! We have added an ADVANCED SHOW Camp week for riders age 9 and up, and have brought back the very popular theme weeks, Holiday Theme week and Horse Adventure week.

More information, along with the registration form can be found on our website at: http://foxwoodfarm.ca/files/4214/5375/9363/2016CampApplication.pdf

Important Foxwood Dates:
Saturday, Feb 6th – OEF Horsemanship class at Foxwood 1:30– 3:30pm
Saturday, Feb 6th – Foxwood Show Team meeting 1:45pm
Saturday, March 5th – Spring-cleaning…It’s SWAP time! Foxwood Fundraiser “Kick off”
Monday, March 14th – Foxwood goes shopping! Join us at Doonaree Tack shop to “get your gear”
Monday, March 21st – Foxwood Spring session begins
Saturday, March 26th – OEF Horsemanship class at Foxwood 1:30– 3:30pm
Sunday, May 29th – Foxwood Horse Show
June 20-24th – Foxwood makeup days
Mon. July 4th – Thurs. July 7th – C.I.T. /Counsellor Camp

With more exciting dates to follow, it’s always a fun time at Foxwood!

Until next time,
Robyn

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Beating the barnyard bugs the natural way – how to make your own horse flyspray

There’s a fly in your eye…and many more on your horse! Spring has sprung and so have the bugs in the barn. There is nothing more annoying to a horse, whether while grooming or when riding, than having flies, mosquitoes and other annoying insects around.

I’d like to share a blog written by my good friend and fellow horse keeper, Michael Stuart Webb which gives us some homemade recipes for creating our own fly sprays:

“Much to our chagrin, and the dismay of our horses, fly season is once again upon us. At this time of year, many of us douse our beloved equine companions with ready-made, chemically based potions we pick-up at the tack shop. While many of these may work, they also introduce our horses to a myriad of toxic constituents that are oftentimes ingested and stockpiled in the soft tissues; awaiting opportunity to wreak havoc on our horse’s immune systems at a later date.

Fret not my fellow horse lovers! Available to us are easy-to-make, safe, non-toxic, homemade tinctures that work just as well and are cheaper! Below are some recipes you might want to try:


Citrus Insect Repellant

▪ 2 cups light mineral oil
▪ 1/2 cup lemon juice
▪ 2 tsp. pure citronella oil
▪ 2 tsp. eucalyptus essential oil
▪ 2 tsp. lemon dish soap

The Quick and Easy Fly Spray

▪ 4-7 parts water
▪ 1 part citronella essential oil


Apple Cider Tinture

▪ 1 quart raw apple cider vinegar
▪ 1 teaspoon citronella essential oil


Eucalyptus Oil Fly Spray

▪ 2 cups white vinegar
▪ 1 tablespoon eucalyptus essential oil
▪ 1 cup water


Dr. Mary Brennan’s Fly Spray Recipe

▪ 1/2 teaspoon oil of myrrh
▪ 2 cups water
▪ 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
▪ 1/4 teaspoon of pure citronella essential oil

* An important note about the citronella oil! Never buy citronella oil from the hardware store for these applications. These are meant for use in devices that burn the product and so they are oftentimes petroleum based and highly flammable. Buy all of your essential oils from your local, and trusted, health food store.


When applying these remedies, I use a small pump-style sprayer similar to those used to spray plants and trees with. Always exercise extreme caution when spraying these, or any products, on your horses so as to avoid getting any overspray into their eyes. When applying products to your horse’s head, it is always best to apply it first to your hands and then gentle wipe the product off onto your horse. Just like people, some horses display allergic reactions to some compounds, natural or not. If you should notice any irritation to your horse’s skin, immediately discontinue use and bathe your horse to remove any remaining product.”

So, before you head out to go horsebackriding or to visit your horse, pick up some of the ingredients above and try making your own flyspray. You’ll be happier, but more importantly, so will your horse.

Until next time,
Robyn

There's a fly in my eye!

There’s a fly in my eye!