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Breathing for horse riders

We’ve all heard that beautiful sound as the horse canters calmy along, a gently arched neck, ears slowly lolling with the downwards part of each stride, as the horse’s breath is being pushed out in time with its canter; fphwwwwrr, fphwwwwrr, fphwwwwrr.┬á I find it quite relaxing.

Ever wondered why that happens??

The horse is, of course, a superbly designed running machine and its fuel during the actual flight phase of its primary survival mechanism is oxygen being able to get to all parts of its body quickly and effectively.

So as the horse lifts its front  legs to stride out in canter or gallop its stomach and other organs are moved backwards away from the diaphragm, which can then draw in maximum air into the lungs.  On the downward part of the stride as the hind legs come underneath to push forwards again, all the stomach & organs move forwards towards the diaphragm which helps the elastic recoil of the diaphragm and pushes air out of the lungs very effectively.  This is crucial to allow the next intake of air to fill the lungs as much as possible.

So why all this about breathing then?

To be effective riders we need to follow a similar path.┬á No I’m not saying jump up and down to jiggle your inards around!! :)┬á┬áThe relaxed and RHYTHMICAL breathing of the horse is what we need to follow.┬á Also, drawing as much air into our lungs as possible so that our body can benefit from all the oxygen it needs to perform.┬á Effective out-breathing is important too, so that carbon dioxide can be exhaled leaving more room for oxygen again.

Without proper oxygen supply our judgement is impaired, our co-ordination is reduced so our high-risk sport becomes even more lethal if we don’t breathe effectively while riding!

Breathing techniques are some of the things I cover on my workshops as demonstration & practice in the group are the best way to appreciate their effectiveness.

An easy tip for you while riding is when you hear your horse’s breathing, BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN!┬á Are you holding your breath, or breathing very shallowly, or in an irregular rhythm?

When your mind wandering to what you will cook for dinner, or watch on TV as you ride, this is your signal to come back to your breathing and into the MOMENT.  Just pick a marker in the school & notice your breathing every time you reach it.  Anything that works for you, to keep you breathing rhythmically & deeply.

So I find the fphwwwwrr relaxing because it reminds me to breathe in a rhythm.  I have a personal story about the dangers of not breathing effectively in my next blog!

Happy Horse Riding until then!

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