6 Reasons Why Pilates will Make You a Better Dressage Rider

As we head into our next Pilates/Dressage Workshop at Flying Colours this weekend, here’s some thoughts on Pilates theory and how it works for dressage riders!!

A rider’s body may feel to her like it is moving very well through space.

“I’m straight…aren’t I???…OMG!  Look at my right side collapse!!!  How did that happen and how do I fix it!!!”

Most riders struggle with balance, bio-mechanical and proprioception problems.  Even the very best riders work to keep a balanced position in their daily work.

Pilates exercises will help to better align the rider’s posture on dry land.

An efficient dressage rider rides in “neutral spine” position in the saddle.  A girl needs all the help she can get while piloting a 1200lb, exuberant beastie around the ring!!!!   And neutral spine is a place to start!!

Posture awareness and land marking “neutral spine” on dry land through Pilates exercises will help a rider learn to maintain the position while riding.

A Pilates program will build strength in the hips and lumbar spine allowing the rider to ride with a strong, more effective seat.   Strength…so that the muscles can stabilize the joints and create a greater range of motion.  More freedom in stable joints!


Ok…so here’s the theory on Pilates and how it’ll work for you…

  1. Centering   Movement originates from the center of the body—the powerhouse—located between the lower ribs and the pubic bone.  Whoo hooo….here it comes!!  The magic of your transversus abdominis!!!  Your TAs!!!  Pilates teaches you how to find your centre and access your TAs! 
  2. Concentration   Pilates teaches the rider to concentrate on the small working body parts in the exercises to eventually work up to full body awareness.   Hmmmm…sound familiar??…teaching our horses the skills from training level and building to Grand Prix.  Grand Prix…yup, full equine body awareness!!!
  3. Control   Deliberate, well designed Pilates work teaches the rider to fire the accurate muscles in the exercise and not compensate because of her off balance or biomechanical issues.  So we’re back to a right side collapse…and here’s how to start to fix it!!!
  4. Precision   Pilates will teach you how to focus on the bits that are working in the specific exercise.  And then you can refine the bits in the exercise and presto changeo!!!  “Look at what I can now ask my horse to do with my strong, aligned, precise body!!!”
  5. Breath   Pilates exercises coordinate with the breath.  Ask any yogi about the power of the breath!!  And more power in the saddle is a good thing.
  6. Flow   In a well designed Pilates session, the exercises will flow one to the next.  Sound familiar?  A well ridden dressage test should have one movement flowing into the next!   Training the space between movements will add grace and seamless flow to your ride!!


So there you have it.

Pilates will strengthen your body.  Pilates is about a soft, supple, controlled, strong body and that’s a good thing for a dressage rider!!!


Off to fire up my Pilates reformer,













Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “6 Reasons Why Pilates will Make You a Better Dressage Rider

  1. I’ve always wanted to try Pilates, but the studios are incredibly expensive. Any more affordable options you can think of?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s