Pilates in and out of the saddle
I first heard about Pilates from my mother when I was 17. She actually bought a book and I thought ok whatever, like all 17 year olds whose mothers tell them you should do this. At the time I was aggressively pursuing my riding. I am a dressage rider and was working as hard as I could to become the best I could be. I wanted so badly at the time to develop the beautiful independent seat. To really sit the trot, to have really long still effective legs. I started out in my riding career at four years old as a jumper so I was learning to stretch out my seat so to speak.
At this time I finally had my own horse. He was a beautiful big dutch warmblood. I was so excited because this was my chance! He could teach me and I could grow and succeed. Well about six months into owning him he started coming up lame. That was the beginning of the end of our journey together. Turned out that he had been nerved years before I bought him. It was cleverly done and well concealed but now he was in pain. I had to retire him it was the best thing for him. Instead of being defeated I found a new trainer and barn. I started taking lessons on school horses again and worked with my new trainer who really helped me develop the seat I so wanted. Lots of lunge lessons with weird coordination exercises. During this time I was fortunate enough to get another horse, Tyler. My young riders horse, and to be the working student for my trainer. She was the first person who influence me toward fitness out of the saddle. I started swimming laps which really helped with my strength and stamina. I was still struggling with the core strength but was improving with every ride. I also started getting to warm up some of my trainers other horses. All riders know to become better you have to ride, and ride, and ride. The more horses the better you become.
I did exceptionally well that first year, placing nationally, winning the juniors at Devon. Things improved rapidly from there. A few years later I was the proud owner of a very talented six year old Argentinean Warmblood, Provinciano. It was my last year of Young Riders and I was a bit burnt out and this six year old reminded me how much I loved riding, how fun showing really was. During the second year with my lovely horse my support system started to fall apart. My parents were divorcing. I rode and went to school, I worked in the family business. There was constant stress and anxiety. So to get a release from the stress I was living under, I joined a new gym that had just opened by my house.
It was at this gym that I took my first Pilates mat class and yes my mother was with me too. I found freedom on the mat and a chance to connect to my body. A way to work around and strengthen a bad shoulder. I also noticed that it made a lot of sense to my body. Like riding but without the horse. My body started to crave Pilates and even though things were going from bad to worse with my parents divorce; my riding and seat where getting even better. Imbalances that my horse and I had for years were suddenly apparent. Better yet and I was able to feel my mistakes, and to correct our imbalances. At this time I had to retire my young riders horse Tyler. This was also very traumatic for me, but I was able to put him in a good place and still move forward with Provinciano. We were winning all our classes and getting ready to move up the FEI ring.
Now I was taking Pilates about six days a week and if I couldn't make a class I knew the mat routine and would practice by myself in my room. A few friends I took class with regularly decided we should get certified to teach mat classes. The gym gave us a upcoming certification program. It was weekend type, where you get a book and teach yourself the core principals before attending the conference. At the conference they go through the core principals as well as the fundamentals of the exercises and then you go through a testing at the end.
Well I passed and the gym hired me as sub. Other teachers were supportive and helped me get teaching jobs at other gyms. During this time I was still going to college, riding every day, working in the family business, and then at night teaching. Looking back being scheduled and filling up my days helped me deal and gave me a sense of control.
I was happy with my teaching but I wanted to learn more. I really liked being able to help people and get them from states of pain to states of freedom. So the head of the Pilates and Wellness program at my gym gave me information on getting a full studio certification. To clarify a full studio certification in Pilates involves learning all the exercises on all the different apparatuses. It's a year to over a year program that's pretty involved. You get a through knowledge of the human body including anatomy, and biomechanics. There are thousands of hours of work, but it was just what I was looking for. I started in the fall and it was just myself and one other pupil, who later transferred to another program at the studio she planned to work at. So I got one on one training which was fun, and intense. At this time things were really deteriorating in my home and work life. I had to leave the family business for my own personal reasons. It was to hard to be involved in home life and work life with two people who were for all intents and purposes at war. Due to this war I wanted to make a new life forward for myself and to figure out a way at this time to keep my horse. Pilates gave me a way. I started teaching a lot I worked for a studio that I was able to help build I loved it there, I made wonderful friendships. I was able to keep Provinciano and the barn I moved to was a nice place. Other riders liked the way I rode and asked for advice. I was able to help not only in the saddle but out of it as well. It was then that I started Pilates in Motion LLC. I am still in touch with riders I've helped that have moved away but still contact me for help or visit for lessons.
Every ride I can call on my knowledge from Pilates to help me interpret what my horse is telling me. It allows me to absorb this information and help direct it to where I want it to go. It helps me fine my balance and my horses, it helps me give the correct and sit still to let it take effect. Pilates is with me all the time I am so grateful to have this gift in my life and even more happy to share it with others. Pilates carries me through my days in and out of the saddle.