Guest Author - Kim Wende
It is important to prepare yourself for riding by improving your balance before you get on a horse. When you are in balance it is easier for the horse to carry you. If you are out of balance you can create all kinds of problems and it is harder to follow the horse's motion.
Here are five creative ways to help you develop better balance before getting on a horse.
Walking on a beam that is on the ground. Don't laugh as this can be challenging. At first you may have to look down to stay on the beam, but do your best to look up and forward. It won't take long before you are walking along the beam with balance. When you feel confident about your balance then start closing your eyes and walk forward. This will bring a new meaning to balance.
Walking backwards is a very beneficial exercise. I learned about this exercise when I took a Tai Chi class. Walking backwards really expands your awareness because we don't look back to see where we are going. This can help you develop feel when riding because of the awareness it creates.
Stand on one leg. At first you may find this hard to do, but with practice your balance will improve. You may only be able to lift one foot an inch off of the ground, but that is OK just start with what you can do. Try to hold this pose for 30 seconds building up to 60 seconds. Soon you will be able to lift the foot all the way to the other knee and hold the pose for 60 seconds. Do this on both sides. After your balance improves, you can then start closing your eyes to improve your balance even more.
Hula Hoop – Using a hula hoop will get you into the rhythm of riding as it teaches you to relax into the movement. When you get relaxed your spine becomes supple. It not only improves balance it improves your coordination and body awareness too. Make sure you get an adult sized hoop.
Sitting on an exercise ball - the simple act of just sitting on the ball will require your core muscles to activate causing your body to stay upright and balanced. Sit on the ball as if to straddle the horse your feet flat on the floor and knees facing forward. Now put both arms out to the side then raise one foot off of the ground then the other. Make sure you keep an upright posture when doing this exercise. Make sure you get a ball that is appropriate for your height.
Try a least two of these exercises every day and soon you will see improvement in your balance. If you can do all five exercises you will get faster results. Your horse will thank you for doing these exercises to improve your balance. Always check with your physician before starting any exercises.