Friday, 14 February 2014

Getting ready for Varsity 2014 with Equipilates

DMU Equestrian have recently been training hard in order to prepare for this year's Varsity against Leicester University, with two teams being entered with eight of the best rider's from each university competing in the battle of the best!

In order to make sure they are all fighting fit, DMU Equestrian have taken an alternative approach to their training by improving things from the ground with Equipilates sessions. The sessions are Pilates but structured specifically to help horse riders improve position, postural awareness, balance and co-ordination whilst performing any riding discipline as a holistic exercise regime. The sessions are ran by Sara Smith, De Montfort University's very own physiotherapist who works at the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Centre Gym right on campus. As a rider herself, Sara specialises in working with riders to improve their position to help benefit their riding and give positive results from both physical and breathing exercises.

Equipilates is designed to improve the rider's awareness of their own body and the effect movement from the rider has upon the horse and the way they move underneath. Spinal alignment and leg position are significant elements to consider whilst riding and Equipilates exercises help to create a greater awareness of the signals riders give out to their horse from tensing up to body alignment. The Equipilates sessions are designed to create a greater feel for weight distribution and gives riders a chance to assess the loading of their weight and create a more balanced position from the ground, which can be reciprocated whilst riding. Small distributions or an uneven balance of weight can alter the movement of the horse and therefore create a less aligned and even movement from horse to rider and vice versa.

In the recent session provided by Sara, the DMU Equestrian students worked on becoming more aware of their body and the weight and balance that they distribute and trying to centralise this to create a more even centre of gravity. Other exercises involved stretching the various muscles riders use to allow them to become more supple and flexible, involving using various equipment to relive tension from areas such as the quads, lower back and hamstrings.

The session was a huge success with the team feeling a lot more conscious of how groundwork and exercises really can improve your riding! This training is all part of developing the fitness for Varsity amongst the DMU Equestrian team whilst giving a positive experience and something new for the club to take part in. Lizzie Mole, a first year student who rides for DMU B team found the session has really helped her to understand more about her posture and balance which she hopes to en corporate into her riding sessions;

"I loved doing the Equipilates session and I have felt it has benefitted my riding massively. We worked on breathing as well as tensing and relaxing muscles which especially useful for a rider who is on an excitable horse, or even feeling nervous before a competition. We were also taught stretches to strengthen leg muscles and help build on our flexibility. It was a really informative and good session, well worth the early start."

A huge thank you to Sara Smith for running the session, check out her Facebook page and if you would like anymore information on Equipilates or DMU Equestrian please don't hesitate to contact us.

DMU Equestrian Society

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