Why Should riders need to have Alexander Technique lessons?
I am a qualified Alexander Technique Teacher from the Constructive Teaching Centre, London.Over the last seven years I have been working as a resident Teacher at Trainequus in Winchester, investigating the use of the self and its impact on the horse and rider.
I am a freelance Wellbeing researcher ( https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/caring-for-older-people-in-nursing/book240344 ) The Alexander Technique is a valid prerequisite for becoming more informed about your use of self in relation to your horse. If practiced well, it will develop a deeper embodied awareness and physical confidence of the whole body, and your perception of it, with equal benefit to horses and horse-rider interface/communication.
Much has been written on the biomechanics of the horse and turnover. I am unpacking the impact of riders on the equine back. Firstly, as a rider, you need to understand what it feels like yourself, to have good use (form, not outline) and drop at the poll and lead with the head, (all vertebrates lead with the head, therefore horse and rider share a similar structure and fundamental way of going). The Alexander Technique addresses this fundamental aspect of good use (form), which for riders becomes essential to giving neutral aids as you relearn new and natural alignment of the neck, head and spine. You will learn what it feels like to engage your own hind quarters! these govern the qualities of strength, balance and coordination and a reliable proprioceptive sense.
Riders are already 'bi-lingual' in that they have developed their proprioceptive sense to a level which gives them a greater than normal command over their limbs. However, what most riders are not aware of is that communication through the aids is also transmitted through the way in which they 'carry' themselves generally, which the horse 'hears' as our unnecessary background noise. I can teach you to 'get out of the horses way' which is a high level skill necessary for the experience of real riding.
My impulse to pursue this line of work has been influenced by Ralph Alcampora and interspecies ethics. Realising that we are humans which are mammals using another animal's back for our pleasure. Far better to develop a symphisis between both horse and rider and the Alexander Technique is a tool which enables this to happen.
Riders are interested in posture. There is an increasing danger that people translate this into a fixed position and in the process of trying to change and perfect their posture they create other problems in various parts of the body and that can be mirrored in the horse. Massage, pilates, yoga , physiotherapy all want the muscles to work at length and increase your core strength. The Alexander Technique also wants muscles to work at length but to lenthen into the upright. Its this embodied knowledge and understaning, which gets you out of the horses way and out of your own way.
I use my hands and voice to give you ‘aids’ which change the geography of your coordination and you will gain more contact and information about your aids and feedback will be enhanced through your new proprioceptive sense. Remember, its about form not outline, use not posture. In a lesson you will learn to retrain yourself and change your ‘way of going’.It is this moving by thinking that gets right to the heart of the nervous system and creates a fundamental and substantial change in our manner of use and will give you the correct scaffolding to support your movement in the most biomechanically efficient way possible. That is, you will learn to move in the way that the body is designed to move, instead of working against that design.We are mammals and bipeds and as such , it is not enough to have good core strength, and mobility; it is fundamental to be able to lead all movement with the head, which, when relearnt (we do this anyway, when young), provides ease of movement and enhances performance within riding. Once learnt, you will realise how heavy you have been and will ‘feel’ more by doing less.
Many top institutions will have a resident Alexander Technique Teacher .This is because, once you reach a level of skill, you will realise that you are doing something which you don't need to do. I can teach you to do less with yourself. I am a professional Backcare member and BPS recognised.