How acupressure can improve rider comfort

Over time, riders experience aches and pains that result from performing repetitive movements on horseback. Acupressure can help restore rider comfort and improve performance.

Anatomically, humans are not designed to ride horses, and horses are not designed to have riders on their backs. Yet we experience spectacular breathtaking moments when horse and rider become one synchronous entity. As riders, we feel that magnificent moment when our bodies become a fluid extension of our horses’ powerful articulating muscles in stride. But despite how natural it may feel to be on horseback, rider comfort is an important consideration.

Mastery and training takes a toll on the body

Today, most of us value our horses for sport. Riders and their equine companions work together to master specific techniques, whether for an English or Western discipline. Meeting such specific requirements takes a huge amount of effort – both emotionally and physically – but as riders, we are so intent on becoming good at our chosen disciplines that we focus on “doing it right” rather than how it feels.

There are many components to learning and being an expert rider. We all start with the basics of learning how to stay on the horse while walking, trotting and cantering. Our instructors counsel us to get our heels down, lower our hands, and keep our backs straight. As we perform these well-intended instructions, certain unnatural tension builds in our bodies. Eventually, this tension impacts not only our own health, but the performance of the horses, our riding partners. As we gain confidence, skill and mastery of a discipline, it is important to pay attention to our physical comfort. In the long run, it affects our connection to the horse, and our overall enjoyment of the ride.

Rider, horse and acupressure

Even minor tension in your body affects your horse. How your body moves directly impacts your horse’s movement, so if your back is tight or your shoulder is injured, you will compromise your horse’s physical fluidity of movement. Your goal as a rider is to perform in concert and comfort with your horse, both physically and psychologically – something that can only be achieved by making sure your mind is clear and focused on the ride while your body is not compensating for an ache or pain.

Acupressure has a lot to offer the rider. It can increase focus for training and competing while also supporting the body’s ability to flow easily while riding. With regular acupressure sessions (performed on yourself or by a registered acupressure practitioner), your horse will feel the freedom of your movement as well as the guidance of your focus. These are two important elements in attaining both that sensational sense of connection with your horse, and complete mastery of your sport.

An acupressure session for riders

Acupressure is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. After thousands of years of clinical observations, Chinese doctors proved there are energy channels below the surface of the skin that influence the healthy balanced flow of life-promoting energy called “chi” as well as blood and other vital substances. Along these channels are found specific points, called “acupoints”, which influence the flow of nourishing vital substances.

When there’s a blockage or disruption in the flow of chi and blood, the body may experience aches, pains and even serious illness. When stimulated, acupoints resolve blockages that are disrupting the harmonious flow of chi and blood, thus restoring physical and emotional balance and health.

Specific acupoints are known to increase mental clarity and focus. Others are proven to reduce soft tissue tension while enhancing its strength. In other words, acupressure helps keep the rider’s mind keenly present and supports the suppleness of his or her body, which in turn enhances the horse’s synchronistic performance.

There’s an old saying: “It is always good to ride your horse in the direction in which he’s going.” This acupressure session will help you do just that!