In partnership with Wintec Saddles

One of the secrets to enjoying hacking is being comfortable in the saddle — especially over long distances — and this is vital as you work towards your #Hack1000Miles goal.

If you’re not comfortable, your body becomes tense and starts to ache, and this will have a negative effect on your horse too.

Being and staying comfortable starts before you’re on board. The Franklin Method is used worldwide to help all types of athletes and has a positive effect on riders. It will improve your body awareness and train your mind-body connection while also improving your movement. 

Alysen Starko-Bowes, head of Franklin Method Equestrian, explains four exercises…

Upper body posture

One issue contributing to rider head misalignment and upper body posture is neck and shoulder tension, which will make you uncomfortable in the saddle, particularly on long distances.

The following exercises aim to reduce tension in your neck and shoulders by rolling on a ball.

Exercise 1: relieve neck tension

Relieve neck tension

Exercise 1:

  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Place the ball under your neck.
  • Slowly roll your head forwards and then roll it backwards.
  • Repetitions: 10

Exercise 2:

  • Lying in the same position, gently turn your head to the left and then to the right. 
  • Repetitions: 10

Relax your shoulders

Exercise 3:

  • Lying on your back, place a ball under your left shoulder blade.
  • Bring your left arm up and take it back past your head and then down to your thigh.
  • Repetitions: 10

Exercise 4: relax your shoulders

Exercise 4:

  • Clasp your hands together behind your neck and gently roll your shoulder blade over the ball in a circular shape to the left and then to the right.
  • Repetitions: 5 in each direction

Exercise 5:

  • Lift your left arm out to the side so that it’s level with your shoulder on the floor. Now lift your arm up and take it across your body.
  • Repetitions: 10

Remove the ball and notice the difference between your two shoulders. Now place the ball under your right shoulder blade and repeat steps one to three on this side.

Improve your breathing

The next set of exercises are for improving your breathing.

Become self-aware

Tapping exercise: improve your breathing

This first tapping exercise will improve your awareness and proprioception (your self perception of where your body is in space). You can use two Franklin Balls or your hand in a soft fist. 

Exercise 6:

  • Before you start take a couple of deep breaths and notice what this feels like. This gives you your starting point. 
  • Tap all around your ribs on one side only for 30 seconds to a minute. Focus on the area that you are tapping.
  • Once you finish try taking a deep breath into the lung on the side that you’ve just tapped. Now take a deep breath on the other side and compare.
  • You should feel you’re able to breathe more fully on the side you tapped.
  • Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Strengthen your diaphragm

Use a resistance band to strengthen your diaphragm

The next exercise will strengthen your diaphragm muscle for improved and better breathing. For the following exercise you will need a resistance band.

Exercise 7:

  • Open up the resistance band and wrap it around your ribs at the back. 
  • Cross the band over in front and take it to the back again.
  • Cross it over once more, bringing the two ends of the band to the front.
  • The band should feel snug. Secure the ends by tying a bow.
  • Breathe deeply and try to push your ribs out 360 degrees into the band.
  • Take between five and eight full breaths and then take a break.
  • Repeat two more times.
  • If you feel light-headed, do fewer repetitions. Build up to more as you become more practised.

This content is brought to you in partnership with Wintec Saddles, durable, comfortable, easy-care, weather-proof saddles for everyone.

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