Yoga for Equestrians

As many of you know I have ridden all my life and yoga is not only a fabulous way to maintain an appropriate level of fitness (core balance, strength and flexibility) but our horses are very sensitive to their rider's nervous system.

If your horse spooks you often stop breathing. If you are distracted your horse will sense this.

If you hold your breath and stiffen your horse will move a lot less the fluently.

Our horses can read us a lot better than what we give them credit for.

Yoga is not only a physical practice of asanas but ultimately should enable you to meditate, find stillness and let your breath be the only movement.

It is the breath-work in yoga which creates the most magical link to riding horses for me.

Pranayama is Sanskrit and prana stands for energy and yama for control. This energy control is very profound for the person practicing the pranayama but directly transfers to your horse when mounted or even standing next to him/her.

As rider's we aim to be good leaders and breathing calmly and mindfully indicates to the horse (who is after all and animal of flight) that he/she is save with you.

Yoga not only enables you to expand your range of motion, improve your stamina and balance it also teaches you "breath to movement" and therefore creating a deep and gently mindfulness: You pay attention to your own movements, thoughts and how the breath travels through your body.

When mounted this expands to your partner, your horse.

As riders we all have experienced this magical moment where you feel totally one with your horse.

Pranayama on horseback mostly comes into place if you have lost this "oneness" (horse spooked/you were distracted) and it is a fascinatingly rapid technic to resume this oneness.

One of my horses is very confident and with him pranayama is more a technic for me to keep my focus with my horse especially when hacking or as a preparation before mounting at a competition.

My other horse is forever spooking and paying attention to things you would never know were there.

I have hacked him for an hour on a loose rein only practising a breath-technic (inhale for the count on five, exhale for the count of ten). He did not shy once. When schooling him and he is one of the ones who is super sensitive and easily runs "hot" I randomly apply breath-work. For instance he did an exercise well I would like him to relax on a loose rein but he is still so entertained with the previous exercise that he bounces back to trot. Simply with breathing calmly he does remain in walk and relaxes.

You can practise yoga on a mat but equally on a horse and you can certainly apply pranayama anywhere!

If this article has intrigued you do get in touch using the contact form or email: or join me on my Monday morning sessions at Gauldry Village Hall at 10.30am

2 thoughts on “Yoga for Equestrians

  1. I would like to try this please Kirstin. Need to get ready for getting back on Manda.

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