Equestrian sport is all about symmetry, from dressage tests to hairpin turns on the polo pitch; we as partnerships need to be able to execute movements with equal effectiveness on both reins to be competent in whatever discipline we do. How many of you analyse your results based on right and left rein? More SJ faults on the left? Consistently lower half pass marks to the right? It may not be something you have considered until now but lack of symmetry is a huge factor that may be standing in the way of your competition goals.
So why is it so hard to achieve perfection? Think about your day to day life, what activities do you complete that are totally symmetrical? I’ll hazard a guess at none. From driving to writing, to brushing your teeth, the vast majority of our day is spent “unbalanced” so it’s no wonder we find it hard to compensate for this huge bias when we get on our horses. The way you sit on your horse undoubtedly changes their movement, your horse loads their limbs to counterbalance you the rider and thus a horse carrying an unbalanced rider becomes unbalanced themselves. It really doesn’t matter how often these imbalances are corrected in the horse, the improvement will never be permanent unless you the rider change as well.
“Work on a horse and that horse will improve, work on a rider, and all their horses will improve”
This statement is SO true! You can spend endless amounts of time, energy and money on your horses but if you’re neglecting yourself, you won’t hit your goals. So make the change today, it doesn’t need to be monumental. Go to a yoga class or a Pilates class and really listen to your body, what moves feel harder right to left? Where do you hold tension or feel pain? Look in the studio mirror, does your body look symmetrical? If you have limitations on the mat, then you’ll have limitations in the saddle. Self care is not a luxury, your own health, fitness and wellbeing are as important as your horses, only by acknowledging this can you really unlock your potential as an equestrian.