Breathing while riding….it sounds simple right? Breathing is something we are born to do and our body does it on autopilot.

Breathing while riding….it sounds simple right? Breathing is something we are born to do and our body does it on autopilot. 

But there are different ways to breathe, especially during relaxtion, exercise or horse riding.

As a rider, you may already be aware, it is common practice to exhale while asking for a stop, and recently it became even more evident to me how much or how little you can exhale before your horse can recognise the change in you. 

Whilst riding, I played an awareness game to see how light my breathing could be before my mare could feel my ask for the downward transition, and I was amazed! 

So, why is it they can feel the lightest movement? 

During our breathing process, we breathe in and that contracts the diaphragm pulling the ribs upwards and outwards lifting and opening the chest and your core….. Try it now while your reading……

This has the effect of lightening the rider’s seat. Then, when you breathe out, your seat deepens. Therefore, if you apply a downward transition as you breathe out, the aid will be more effective. 

Your diaphragm is a muscle located between your chest and abdominal cavity, and it should be the main workhorse that powers your breathing. Yet many of us don’t fully engage this muscle when breathing, insteadwe tend to take shorter, more shallow breaths that begin and end in the chest. By breathing shallow, we don’tdeliver as much oxygenated air to our lungs. This can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, and even make you feel short of breath.

You can practice diaphragmatic breathing by lying on the ground with one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale slowly out your nose, notice if your chest rises or if your belly rises—or both. With diaphragmatic breathing, just the belly should rise and fall. Think about originating the breath deep within your belly and stay mindful of this as you continue inhaling and exhaling..…TRY IT WHILE YOUR READING THIS ARTICLE AND PRACTICE AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN!

Driving your breath from the diaphragm can also help you avoid those dreaded mid-riding stitches, or abdominal cramps you may have experienced during a fast workout. 

So, when your riding next, focus on breathing correctly as an exercise. Notice how much more relaxed you and you horse are. Then start timing your exhale with downward transitions and I bet you won’t believe the results! 

Happy Breathing!