We're heading back up to Mt. Adams Horse Camp again soon, this time with a properly fitting saddle and a more comfortable horse – yay! I'm also taking along a new book I received recently to review. The Riding Doctor looks perfectly suited for this middle-aged rider who wants to ride for another 40 years or however long the good Lord gives me on this earth; I'm looking forward to all the help Beth Glosten can give me.
Here's some questions and answers with Dr. Glosten to wet your whistle (and mine):
The Riding Doctor: A Prescription for Healthy,
Balanced, Beautiful Riding, Now and for Years
to Come by Beth Glosten, M.D.
Publisher: Trafalgar Square Books, June 2014
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What inspired you to write The Riding Doctor?
I want to share with other riders the discoveries I’ve made about what it takes to ride well and in a pain-free, healthy way. I want to provide riders with a logical system to keep track of themselves in the saddle. So often we are only thinking of what the horse is doing without asking ourselves if we are doing our best to contribute to riding and training success. Finally, I present a system that will hopefully minimize wear and tear on a rider’s body.
2. The Riding Doctor is a follow-up to your first book, Ride in Balance: Expand Your Riding Skills with Body Awareness and Pilates Exercises. How are the two books different?
The two books have a great deal in common. I self-published the first book, and as such, struggled with getting it out to riders outside of my geographic region. By republishing the book through a publishing house, I hope for much wider distribution. The new book has a new title (obviously!), and has some new content about rider pain and injury issues. The book is in color and there are many new photos – the layout is beautiful.
3. In The Riding Doctor, you include a concept known as The Rider Fundamentals. What are these and how do they help riders keep track of their position and function in the saddle?
The Rider Fundamentals include: Mental Focus, Proper Posture, Body Control – Legs, Body Control – Arms, and Understand Movement (how your horse moves at each gait, and how you should move with it). The Fundamentals form the structure of the book, and each chapter includes a discussion of relevant anatomy, exercises to illustrate this anatomy, why the Fundamental is important to riding, common rider problems with each Fundamental, and finally exercises to help improve the Fundamental. The Fundamentals are an on-the-fly checklist of a rider’s position and function in the saddle. A rider can ask, during execution of a movement: Am I focused? Is my posture correct? Do I have control of my arms and legs or are they gripping or tight? Am I moving with my horse in rhythm?
4. The Riding Doctor includes 50 step-by-step exercises geared toward helping riders develop their skills. Can you describe some of the exercises and explain what makes them unique?
The exercises in the book draw upon the Pilates system of exercise. My instructions are designed such that each exercise or movement has relevance to riding skills. For example, in Chapter 2: Proper Posture, there are some very basic awareness movements to help you find your correct posture. Then, there are simple movements that show you how to control the position of your pelvis and rib cage; important determinants of posture. Finally, there are exercises that challenge correct posture in the same way that it is challenged in the saddle – using a single rein aid, a single leg aid, or even just turning. I use an exercise ball and other props for the exercises. Balance is an important theme, as balance is key to success in the saddle.
5. How has your background as a physician helped you in developing the concepts behind The Riding Doctor?
I was involved in clinical research as a physician, so when faced with the question, what does it take to ride well and in a healthy way, I approached it the same way I would a clinical problem. What do I know? I know human anatomy and function. How do effective riders use their bodies? Answering this question took some observation and “data collection.” As I watched good riders, I learned that while they look “still” they are not. They are moving at the right places (usually the shoulder joint and hip joint) at the right times, and are stable and steadily balanced throughout (relying on their core muscles). My personal experience of improving body control confirmed my observations – my rides were much better after a mindful exercise session.
Finally, I use my knowledge of the human body from medicine and teaching Pilates. My system for riding well is consistent with how the human body works, which diminishes unnecessary tension and confusion and helps riders move efficiently and effectively.