Moving Into Balance
Horse and Rider
Improving performance and partnerships
between humans and their horses
through yoga and bodywork
It is often said that the key to any good
relationship is communication. In the partnership between horse and rider, our bodies and minds are our means of communication. Unfortunately, we often unknowingly send mixed signals or communicate ineffectively to our equine partners, causing misunderstanding and frustration for us both.
Many "training problems" and "performance problems" are actually the result of tension, imbalance or misalignment in the body of the horse or rider…usually both. Aside from his own body issues, a horse will also mirror the rider's body and will adapt his movement to counterbalance that- in fact, within just 2 years of working together, a horse will mirror his rider's misalignments right down to the same cervical vertebra.
photo by Caralee Gould
Through yoga and bodywork, we can experience greater ease and alignment in our own bodies that our horses will reflect in their movements as well. Bodywork for our equine friends helps them feel and perform their best, so that together we are a better team.
"Only when we are balanced and peaceful within ourselves
can we have relationships that are harmonious."
Yoga for Equestrians
"Make your horse happy by knowing and
controlling your own body better."
Yoga practice improves our riding by developing body-awareness, self-carriage, strength, and balance. It relieves tension and improves flexibility, especially in the spine and pelvis, to better follow and guide the movements of the horse.
Yoga improves body symmetry and alignment, correcting imbalances in posture and creating new muscle memory, to give us better control of our bodies on horseback. By holding the postures and breathing, one develops control of the body and the mind. Cultivating a calm, centered mind is perhaps the most important way that yoga benefits us as riders, so that we can interact with our horses in an effective, non-reactive way. Yoga brings us into the present moment-- where our horses are, and where we must be if we wish to have truly meaningful connections with them.
Private or small group instruction
at my office or at your home or equestrian facility, by appointment. Sessions are conducted on the ground, and may continue on horseback during your regular ride or a lesson with your trainer.
photos by Caralee Gould
For your home practice... Yoga for Equestrians Audio CDs
Session One: Getting Started is a short practice (26 minutes) suitable for students of any level, from beginning to advanced. Audio instruction is clear and detailed so that you experience correct alignment in your body; modifications are given for those with physical limitations.
Instruction explains how each pose relates to riding and can help you in using your body more effectively in the saddle. Photo insert included in CD's shows all poses.
Available as CD or download. All proceeds go to equine rescue organizations to help provide care and food for horses in need:
Copies of my past articles on Yoga for Equestrians in
Florida Sporthorse Magazine may be ordered from the editor:
Ortho-Bionomy® for Horse and Rider
Riders who receive Ortho-Bionomy® report that afterwards it is easier to use their bodies correctly on horseback, and that they are no longer struggling against their bodies' habitual postures or weaknesses. When the rider becomes more aligned and at ease, the aids become more clear; the horse's job becomes much easier, as he is both better able to understand the aids and is not having to compensate for an unbalanced rider.
Horses receiving Ortho-Bionomy® likewise move with greater comfort and ease, and performance is improved. Ortho-Bionomy® is an extremely effective therapy for those recovering from injury, in addition to being a valuable method of physical maintenance for both performance and pleasure horses. By addressing imbalances before they become more severe lameness, the horse stays sounder longer, time off due to injury is avoided or reduced, and career longevity is improved. Ortho-Bionomy®'s gentle, non-force method is well suited for horses~ prey animals with highly sensitive nervous systems. Ortho-Bionomy® uses the nervous system to effect change in the skeletal, muscular, and other body systems; it engages the body in its own self-correction. As force only creates resistance and defense, working with the body in this non-forceful way encourages trust and receptivity, making the work more effective and the results longer lasting.
Ortho-Bionomy® is extremely effective on its own, and can also be used in conjunction with other therapies such as massage and chiropractic; it helps the body adapt to and maintain chiropractic adjustments, creating longer lasting results, and allows massage work to get deeper into the tissues. In horses receiving corrective farrier work, Ortho-Bionomy® is a great adjunct/support therapy- horses respond to the farrier's work more quickly when their body's alignment and movement patterns are addressed, and adapt more easily to the changes in their feet.
These two masters working together show how compassionate, non-force methods of training and bodywork bring out the horse's best attributes and create a willing partner.
Yoga for Equestrians
It was fun getting to work with you the other day. Thank you for getting Cori on the right track; she has been struggling for too long and now she is finally able to enjoy her horse!"
--Stacy Parvey-Larsson, dressage trainer
(received from Stacy Parvey-Larsson after doing a private yoga session with
one of her students-- first on the mat, and then on the horse during the
student's riding lesson with Stacy.)
"Within just 3 sessions, Bryony had really helped me understand the exact imbalances in my body, and the two of us figured out how this was adversely impacting my riding. Bryony was a master at understanding what I needed, imparting the knowledge that would help me, and showing me just the right amount of exercises to keep me moving forward and motivated. Already I have noticed a difference and more importantly, so have the horses I ride." --Mel Hare-Ocala, FL/Moab, UT
"Bryony Anderson has been conducting Yoga For Equestrians classes for a small group at my farm. She is a thoughtful and gifted teacher. She has the ability to create awareness of the parts of the body as they relate to the horse while riding.
"In addition, I am using her Yoga for Equestrians audio CD regularly. I find doing the exercises on the CD most helpful in keeping my body flexible which assists me in being more fluid while riding my horse. I highly recommend Bryony’s classes as well her CD." --C.P., Williston, FL
"While at the Florida Parelli Center for a two-week riding course (2008), I had the opportunity to attend a Yoga for Equestrians class given by Bryony. Bryony's clear detailed instruction helped me to find proper alignment. I will incorporate the specific exercises she did for riding into my yoga regimen. Bryony's soothing voice guided us through an invigorating -yet relaxing- session. I would recommend her classes to anyone, even if not an equestrian."
--Fleta Sokal, MD, Forest Hill, Maryland
"I use your yoga cd several times a week, and it is making a big difference in how my body feels." --T.F., Ocala, FL
"I just had to write to tell you how much I love your first yoga session. I loved hearing how each pose would improve my self-carriage and consequently the ability to communicate better with my horse. I was so excited afterward that I wanted to purchase all of your CDs!"
--B.E., Micanopy, FL"
"I purchased Bryony's Yoga CD 'Moving Into Balance: Getting Started.'
Bryony's instructions are very clear and her voice very soothing. The CD format allows me to stay in alignment, not having to turn my head to look at a TV screen. The poses are helpful in preparing my body to be more fluid and go with the flow of my horse. I continue to use and enjoy her CD at home."
--Fleta Sokal, MD, Forest Hill, Maryland
"I have been 'stuck' on some issues in my riding, but could not quite understand what was going on. Bryony's classes and audio CD have helped me so much, to gain awareness of my own body and to realize how my body correlates to the horses' movements and their ability to understand what I am asking them to do. She makes it so easy to understand the "why and how" of how our bodies are communicating (or miscommunicating!) to our horses. The best analogy I can come up with is "On line for the human". Bryony's yoga classes shape our bodies, focus our minds, and help us understand which muscles do what and how important our breathing is in effecting our riding and communication. I would highly recommend her classes and her CD."
--Chris McCord, Ocala, FL
Ortho-Bionomy® for Rider
"The day after being thrown from my horse, my left leg was so sore that I was unable to lift it without using the aid of my hands. That evening Bryony performed Ortho-Bionomy on me. It was so subtle, that I hardly imagined one session would accomplish much. The following day I was pleasantly surprised to find my leg had minimal soreness, and I could lift it without using my hands. By day two, I had absolutely no pain!
I recommend Bryony's methods to anyone experiencing any type of discomfort. She is truly gifted."
~S.J.~ Ocala, FL.
"I was pleasantly surprised to find that, after my first Ortho-Bionomy session with Bryony, it was easier for me to use my body correctly while riding. I no longer had to fight my body or struggle to keep my shoulders aligned over my hips (I tend to turn my shoulders and chest to the left). It felt effortless to keep good posture in the saddle, which in turn allowed me to be less tense and more fluid in my riding." ~E.R., Ocala, FL
From Ashley, a professional event rider and trainer, after a session to address chronic pain and limited range of motion in her shoulder: "I feel like I have a new arm! The pain is gone, and range of motion much improved. Thanks so much!"
"(After your work with my horse the other day,) I can now touch the right side of his neck (which he wouldn't let me do before because he was too sensitive there)! He's tracking up evenly on both sides! I rode him in the arena today and his footsteps are now on the bend- before one foot would drag and step inwards. Thank you again!"
~H.S., Ocala, FL
"My horse had been stiff in his right hip, hanging that leg over jumps and having difficulty cantering. After the first Ortho-Bionomy session he received from Bryony, there was a big improvement in his movement; he seemed to have greater range of motion and was able to clear the jumps and canter more easily. I also noticed his attitude was improved and he was more able to focus on his work than usual."
--S.F., Ocala, FL
"Our Friesian gelding has had uneven hips for about a year now. After Bryony worked on him I noticed his hips were much more even. I could really notice it when he walked. I was amazed at how such a short session with Bryony (it was maybe half an hour - he has a shorter attention span) could produce such a dramatic result. He seemed much more willing
under saddle as well. Bryony is so great about educating us as well and giving us things to work on with him on our own. Ortho-Bionomy has produced the best results out of all of the body work I have had done on the horses!" --Nancy Smorch, Ocala, FL
"I just wanted to let you know that I noticed my horse carrying himself better after you worked on him. He actually had good posture on his own! Thank you!!!!" --A.E., Williston, FL
"Bryony has helped both (my horse) and me personally with physical/mental/emotional pain issues. After using (several other types of treatment) with no long term results, Bryony was the one who restored (my horse) to health."
~Anonymous, from Ocala, FL
"I've been meaning to call you everytime I get on my horse and enjoy the fact that he's moving so well and feeling great, none of the usual fights... Today I was riding with a friend and she commented that he looks really good, has a bounce in his step, is stepping evenly and is really forward! I told her that ever since you've been working with him he's been great. Thank you so much! I am so pleased and am spreading the word!"
~H., Ocala, FL
"(My horse) is feeling considerably better this morning, after your session with him yesterday. He was much more relaxed and comfortable, and I could tell just by the way he was interacting with the rest of the herd that he was feeling a lot better. Whatever it was that you did, it sure worked! Thanks again."
~L.N., Ocala, FL
(And this testimonial, from a non-rider, conveys well what our horses might say about the work:) "I had to stop my workouts (at the gym), because of pain and weakness in my muscles. After having Ortho-Bionomy® from Bryony, I went back (to the gym) and was amazed that I could now do exercises I hadn't been able to do before, and was comfortable doing them. I was able to achieve more in the workout because I was able to access those muscles...and everything just felt easier."
~Kathryn R., Corpus Christi, TX
Case Study- Tiger
Tiger, a 4-year old racehorse, sustained an injury which caused his left hind leg to be held away from his body and laterally rotated. The leg seemed disconnected from his body, as if he had no awareness of where it was. He was very unstable, dragging the limb, walking sideways and falling over. Tiger could not put weight on the leg and could not have his other feet lifted for routine care. The owners thought they were going to have to euthanize him.
photos by MaryAnn Lau
(above) Tiger before... ...and after the first session, standing square.
After the first appointment, Tiger was able to have his feet lifted for trimming and cleaning. After 5 appointments, scheduled approximately one week apart, Tiger began walking straighter and fairly steadily, was able to go in both directions, and could be safely turned out to move freely. A total of 10 sessions were done over an 8 week period.
When last seen a year later, Tiger was moving normally and living a happy life.