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Horeseback Riding

Horseback riding, like other sports, demands coordination, timing and direction. The Feldenkrais Method® lends itself beautifully to improving equestrian skills for many reasons. Bill Hutchinson, a Feldenkrais® practitioner in Massachusetts, has been working with riders, helping them to learn how to ride better.

He says, “Many riders get caught in the trap of struggling with their horse, showing him ‘who is boss’—which is counter productive.” Feldenkrais lessons show the rider how to be with the horse, as a single, intelligent unit.

Horses respond to messages or directives from the feet, legs, back, arms and hands. These signals must be precise. Often riders give mixed messages which confuse the horse. For instance, the rider must learn to deliver a message with only one leg with no participation by the other leg or hip. In Feldenkrais lessons, the rider learns how to be more focused and precise.

Riding is a time-consuming sport; most people demand short cuts to achieve the results of dedicated equestrians. “This is exactly what the Method offers,” says Hutchinson.

The two hottest items in equestrian training in recent years are fully grounded in kinesthetic awareness. The first is Linda Tellington Jones’ T.T.E.A.M. Work. Linda says her methods were enriched and given form by her participation in a Feldenkrais training.

The second is Sally Swift’s Centred Riding. Sally developed her approach after studying with a variety of experts. She teaches riders a variety of effective awareness techniques.

Hutchinson teamed up with dressage judge and Centered Riding instructor Beth Jenkins to teach a five-week seminar for equestrians on 1985—and never looked back. Each class is two hours; in the first hour, Beth reviews videotape footage of certain riding techniques. In the second hour, Bill leads them through an Awareness Through Movement® lesson specifically designed to help them better achieve what the videotapes are demonstrating. Their New England classes and seminars have continued to expand each year, and a number of articles have appeared in equestrian and horseman magazines.

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