Franklin balls can help horse riders improve their seat!
They are a staple piece of kit for a Pilates teacher. The aim of any Pilates equipment is to give a different “feel” to an exercise to enable the individual to achieve better activation of the appropriate muscle groups, thereby improving body awareness and noticing any asymmetry and tension. Conscious recognition of movement is the basis for change to begin rectifying the issues.
On researching the Franklin Method and the content for this blog I was interested to see that The Horse & Hound covered the use of these balls in August 2017. Perhaps some of you read the article? Perhaps this might be the impetus you need to get yourself a pair and give it a go!
I will try not to repeat the Horse & Hound article, as I agree with it’s content. In that article, they suggested using the balls for beginners of if you have been out of the saddle for a while.
I would suggest that they could be put to better use when utilised by the more intermediate/ advanced riders to help deepen your seat, improve symmetry in your riding and create better posture and stability on your horse. You could use them at the beginning of every schooling session to activate your core and “warm up.”
Firstly, you need to get up close and personal with your bum cheeks! We have two bony points in our bottom, our sit bones – posh name for them are our ischial tuberosities and they make up the base of our pelvis, our hamstrings attach to them too. Anyway, they are the two points you want to be sat on when riding. Once balanced on these points symmetrically your pelvis will be in it’s most balanced “neutral” position allowing for the most efficient and effective use for your deep core muscles.
How do Franklin Balls help with hip tightness?
Firstly, once you’ve worked out where your sit bones are, put a ball under each one whilst you are sat in your saddle. You’ll see what happens – this will tip your pelvis slightly forward improving your spinal posture. You’ll also notice with the change in pelvic position the thigh sits in a less angled position creating length through the front of the hip helping to release any tightness here. Allowing you to explore a longer leg and deeper feel in the saddle. You can then ride in this position carrying out all your normal flat work exercises. The balls will give you better awareness of your sit bones in the saddle and notice any asymmetry.
Like with all things try it. For some with a less established seat on the horse, the instability of being on the balls may actually create more tightness in the hip as they become too imbalanced and grip hard into the saddle. There are in fact 7 different types of balls, some softer and therefore making it easier to keep a more balanced seat. Have your trainer watch you to see you are getting the desired effect from using the balls. You’ll know yourself because after you take them away you should feel more secure and deeper in your seat not tight!
A bit on safety!
Just a thought, please desensitise your horse to the balls before getting up close and popping them under your bottom only to find your horse snorting and tight backed, followed by a hump! You on the floor and rather than achieving a deep seat, you have a painful one instead! Common sense please horsey people, common sense!
Happy trying them!
If you want to know more, our horse rider Pilates classes are run by a Chartered Physiotherapist. We focus on your rider position in our classes helping optimise your performance on your horse. Held at Longwick Village Hall 7:50pm Mondays nights. Why not come along and try it!