This simple exercise will teach you how to build a deeper connection with your horse through abdominal breathwork.
As a rider, you are on a journey to become more confident, balanced and connected to your horse. After working with thousands of riders all over the world over the last 30 years, I have seen that most riders never think about the power of breath in connecting with their horse. By not engaging in conscious breathwork, they miss out on an opportunity to deepen the bond they share with their equine companions.
Subconscious vs. conscious breathing
Breathing continues subconsciously as long as you live. But you can also bring awareness to your breath, and there are many ways to use conscious breathing in riding – to calm yourself and your horse, to increase energy, to release tension, etc.
Using breathwork to connect with your horse
One of the main challenges riders face is that when they start to feel anxious, they hold their breath. This interrupts their connection to their horse and makes both of them feel less safe.
In order to feel safer, connect more deeply, and ride more intuitively, try this exercise. You can follow along in your living room – doing a “dry run” allows you to get a feel for breathing in your own body first. You can then do the exact same exercise in the saddle next time you ride.
1. Sit tall in a chair without leaning on the backrest.
2. Practice chest breathing by placing one hand on your sternum as in the photo. Breathe into this area of your torso for a few inhales and exhales. What do you feel?
Chances are, your center of gravity has moved up. You are probably bracing your back and getting tense. The connection of your seat bones to the chair is less tangible.
If you are in this position in the saddle, you will feel disconnected from the saddle and your horse. Tension and anxiety will start creeping in.
3. Practice abdominal breathing by placing your hand on your abdomen, the area underneath your belly button. When breathing, let your belly gently expand and then drop back in. Take a few breaths like this.
Take a minute to feel into your body. You probably feel you are relaxing and softening your back. Your seat bones reconnect to the chair. You feel calmer. When you practice abdominal breathing in the saddle, you will feel that your seat bones are connecting with the saddle and your horse again.
From now on, you can use abdominal breathing as soon as you feel tension rising in you or your horse. It will have a calming effect on both of you.
Building awareness through breathing is an important step in your journey to become a more intuitive, balanced and connected rider. To dive deeper into the power of body awareness in riding, visit TheIntuitiveRider.com to take a free, two-minute quiz.