COMPANION

Horse riding

F. M. Alexander

F. M. Alexander was a keen horse rider but there is no record of him teaching people horse riding or on a horse, nor does he discuss horse riding in his writings.

Horse riding and the Alexander Technique

As the sensitivity and appropriate muscular tonus developed in the Alexander Technique is ideal for riding, it has been taken up by many horse riders, and there are several horse riding instructors who are also Alexander Technique teachers.

The use of saddle work in ordinary lessons by some teachers has made the Technique of even more obvious relevance to riders.

The comparison of the importance of the requirements of the head and neck of a horse to Alexander’s primary control has been noted by several writers,[1] and it has been suggested that Alexander’s discovery of the primary control was influenced by his knowledge of horsemanship.

Writings – Books

There are two dedicated books to the Alexander Technique and riding:

  • BodySense (1998) by Sally Tottle[2]
  • Riding Success Without Stress (1999) by Joni Bentley[3]

Writings – Articles

  • The first discussion of the Alexander Technique for horse riders is Daniel Pevsner’s 1980 F. M. Alexander Memorial Lecture.[4]
  • ‘The Alexander Technique, classical piano, and Western riding’ by Kate Vigneron relates on how playing the piano informed her horse riding.[5]
  • ‘The Alexander technique and riding’ by Lesley Finn-Kelcey considers the many ways in which the Technique is of benefit to riders.[6]
  • The Direction issue ‘Equestrian’ (1993) contains several articles on Alexander Technique and horse riding:
  • ‘Issue Editorial’ by Walter Carrington covers Alexander’s love of horses and horse riding, and how much horsemanship has to offer teachers of the Technique.[7]
  • ‘What’s it all about’ by Richard Weis considers our relationship with the horse; that horses are prey animals and herd animals.[8]
  • ‘Dressage clinics with the Alexander Technique’ by Lorna Faraldi on teaching the Alexander Technique to dressage riders.[9]
  • ‘Working with Mr Spooks’ by Sally Tottle on hands-on work with a horse, with extracts from a working diary September–December 1992.[10]
  • ‘A lesson in horsemanship’ by Danny Pevsner on what horsemanship can teach the Alexander Technique teacher; a ‘well-dressed’ horse is an ‘Alexandered’ horse.[11]
  • ‘Are you sitting comfortably?’ by Jean Clark on the difference between sitting on a horse and a chair, and what each can offer the other.[12]
  • ‘Personal history’ by Sally Swift on how the Alexander Technique contributed to her ‘Centered Riding’ method.[13]
  • ‘Three functional centres’ by Charles Harris is his thoughts on Alexander Technique and riding; mentioning 1. centre of gravity, 2. centre of motion, 3. centre of flexion.[14]

Influence on horsemanship

The Alexander Technique has inspired dressage and riding teachers, such as Charles Harris[15] and Sally Swift.[16]

Picture: FM on horse. Caption: F. M. Alexander, circa 1930.

See also Saddle work, Sally Swift.

References

[1] Review by Walter Carrington of Francois Baucher: The Man And His Method, in STATNews, vol. 4, issue 5, 1993.
[2] BodySense by Sally A. Tottle (Kenilworth Press, 1998).
[3] Riding Success Without Stress by Joni Bentley (J. A. Allen, 1999).
[4] Horsemanship and the Alexander Experience by Daniel Pevsner (Sheildrake Press, 1980).
[5] ‘The Alexander Technique, classical piano, and Western riding’ by Kate Vigneron in AmSAT News issue no. 66 (Winter 2004), pp. 18–19.
[6] ‘The Alexander technique and riding’ by Lesley Finn-Kelcey in The Alexander Journal no. 18 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2002), pp. 16–21.
[7] ‘Issue Editorial’ by Walter Carrington in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 4–5.
[8] ‘What’s it all about’ by Richard Weis in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), p. 7.
[9] ‘Dressage clinics with the Alexander Technique’ by Lorna Faraldi in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 9–12.
[10] ‘Working with Mr Spooks’ by Sally Tottle in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 13–15.
[11] ‘A lesson in horsemanship’ by Danny Pevsner in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 19–20.
[12] ‘Are you sitting comfortably?’ by Jean Clark in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 28–29.
[13] ‘Personal history’ by Sally Swift in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 30–31.
[14] ‘Three functional centres’ by Charles Harris in Direction vol. 2, no. 1 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1993), pp. 34–36.
[15] Fundamentals of Riding by Charles Harris (Hyperion Books, 1985).
[16] Centred Riding by Sally Swift (William Heinemann, 1986).
 
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