The Most Elegant Sport

Recently I attended the Hampton Classics in East Hampton and aside from glorious weather, the event is absolutely wonderful. I am not a novice to equestrian sports as my daughter was an avid rider, but one has an opportunity to stand back to watch and critique as a complete bystander. There are so many events taking place, that, for me, it was like walking through a fantastic candy shop, each venue was equally enthralling to me.

Upon entering the grounds the first ring was a young group of girls all attired so beautifully. And ironically, their ponies were coiffed identically as well. Their manes were neatly braided and topped off with a ribbon! I was mesmerized with the focus of these young riders who could not have been older than 8 or 9 years old.

I have a special interest in the sport of equestrian technique as it relates very succinctly to many of the exercises performed in the syllabus of Pilates. The horse and the rider must “feel” in sync as they progress through their moves in their sequences for competition. Add to that, the horses’ his or hers own personality…..I’m referring to attitude? Well, the ease at which a rider controls that and commands focus is a remarkable exhibition of trust and teamwork.

I paused especially to watch riders just practicing in rings on their lessons with their coaches. A great deal can be gleaned from these repetitious yet necessary trials and tribulations. Again and again, the riders repeat their tasks as their coaches bark out commands to them. They don’t “appear” to register acknowledgement …. their eyes fixed on their path… And then as they approach their hurdle, you are acutely aware that they most definitely have processed their adjustment and take off high into the air!

The posting position is very relevant to proper alignment of legs “growing” into our trunks. Pilates is a wonderful adjunct to the rider as it enhances the core to sustain these movements on the horse. When the horse senses the fluidity of its rider through its sides, everything looks so natural and easy. Many times when I’m teaching, I imagine being in the middle of a jump, especially during the exercise “horseback”.

I love to watch up close and personal… I observed the interaction of rider to their horse and how sweetly they nuzzle up to their trainer/rider. It is a unique love of technique and trust.