99% of Riders Lack This One Important Skill

Approximately 1% of people are naturally ambidextrous, this means that potentially 99% of riders are lacking the optimal abilities in their body to communicate effectively with their horse. If you are the lucky 1%, stop reading now.

If not, keep reading to find out how you can improve your ambidexterity for horse riding…

Ambidexterity is the state of being equally skilled in the use of both left and right limbs.

Equestrian is a sport that requires both horse and rider to be as ambidextrous as possible. That is, that both horse and rider can use their bodies equally left and right.

Unlike other sports, where the dominant limb is strengthened to throw or kick, horse riders need to be equally strong, flexible, and coordinated on both sides of their body.

Most riders can easily and quickly identify their better/worse rein or direction of going, and there is a constant and never-ending goal of achieving symmetry and balance on both reins.

By improving your ambidexterity, you can improve your chances of achieving this goal.

Just imagine for a moment, that you don’t have a ‘better rein’, that both directions you feel perfectly in harmony with your horse. Striving for this feeling will help both yourself and your horse become more athletic and in harmony.

Just like learning anything new, it’s not easy to begin with, however, the training can be incorporated easily into your daily routine.

So, how does one become more ambidextrous?

  1. Identify your dominant side and weak side (most people are right sided dominant).
  2. Feel, watch yourself, or ask your coach to identify the differences in your posture and aid application on left versus right reins. Write them down.
  3. Begin using your non-dominant hand as often as possible (see examples below).
  4. Re-asses your differences on left versus right reins after 3 months of daily ambidextrous training.
  5. Make training ambidexterity a normal part of your life and continue to practice until you can use both sides of your body equally.

Activities to try using your non-dominant (ND) hand/leg for ambidexterity training:

  • Muck out your stables using the ND hand (ie. Switch hand positions for the pooper-scooper and rake)
  • Lead your horse using the ND hand
  • Carry feed buckets/hay bags etc. using the ND hand
  • Carry your handbag on your ND shoulder
  • Brush your teeth/hair with your ND hand
  • Tack up your horse from the other side.
  • Mount/dismount the horse from the other side
  • Carry the whip in your ND hand
  • Swap your knife and fork over when eating.
  • Practice writing/signing your name with your ND hand
  • Try using the ND hand more when typing
  • Use the mouse with the ND hand
  • Drink out of your drink bottle with the ND hand
  • Pretend your dominant hand is injured and use the ND hand for as many tasks as possible
  • Practice feeling different textures with the ND hand with eyes closed (this will help improve “feel” in that hand)
  • Put in your pin/pay cash with your ND hand.
  • Text with your ND hand
  • Identify everything you naturally do with your dominant hand/leg and balance your body by practising on the ND side.

It takes about 3 weeks to form a habit, so practice using your non-dominant hand for daily tasks for 3 weeks consistently with conscious effort.

After the 3 weeks you will find that some things are a little easier to achieve with your non-dominant hand.

However, ambidexterity is a lifelong practice and you must continue to use both sides of your body to keep the neural circuits and muscles strong.

Think about treating yourself a little more like your horse! Just like we must always train on both reins, we must continue to keep both sides of our body working evenly as much as possible to be the most effective riders we can be.

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