The "HOW" of Learning Rider Feel - Part 4 of 4

067-4b The ‘HOW’   of Learning  Rider Feel Part 4.png

Guest post by Catherine McCrum - Part 4

So what IS Feldenkrais? And how can YOU use it in YOUR riding?

Very simply Feldenkrais lessons refine your ability to ‘listen’ to the information from your senses that lets you know the quality of your balance, breathing, posture and movement. It is this ability to pay attention to the subtle nuances of your sensory feedback mechanism that makes the difference between the effortless co-ordination of great riders and expending too much energy for the job in hand.

As a rider, it can help you to recognise and inhibit the unhelpful muscular efforts that interfere with your performance. You will become more discerning and improve your sensitivity, so you can respond quickly and easily to your horse. You will become quicker at identifying how to adjust any part of your body so you can ride how you’ve always wanted to.

If you want to experience this now try this short Feldenkrais lesson. 

Find a soft surface to kneel upright on – a carpet or rug is ideal. If it’s not comfortable to stand on your knees, then you can do the movements in standing.

Place your knees about hip width apart.

Is your weight distribution even? Or do you have more weight on one knee than the other?

Are your lower legs aligned symmetrically? Or does one foot angle more in or out?

Sense your tailbone in space.

If you drew an imaginary line from your tailbone to the floor would it ‘land’ in the middle between your two lower legs?
Or does your tailbone angle more towards your right or left leg?

Start to ‘draw’ a very small circle with your tailbone on the floor between your legs.

- How round is this circle?

- If you were drawing around an imaginary clock which numbers do you easily go to? And which numbers seem more challenging to reach?

- Do you hold your breath when it gets difficult? Clench your jaw? Stiffen your tongue or throat?

Continue to draw this imaginary circle with your tailbone in one direction and then compare this with the other direction?

- Is it easier for you to circle clock-wise or anti clock-wise?

Take a REST in any position that is comfortable.

Return to standing on your two knees. Circle around your clock with your tailbone and ‘spread’ your attention to your head and neck.

- Does your head stay still in space?

- Or does your head also make a circle?

Cup your cheekbones with your hands with your fingers pointing backwards so that your elbows are forwards. Lightly keep your head still as you circle your tailbone.

- How smooth is the movement of your tailbone when your head is quiet?

- Is it more difficult or easier?

- What has to move in your hip joints, spine and ribs in order for your tailbone to circle while your head is still?


One last time return to standing on your knees. Let your arms hang by your sides. Circle your tailbone easily and freely around your clock in both directions. Find a range and tempo that allows you to breathe easily.

- What is the quality of your circles now compared to the start?

- Can you feel that more parts of your body are involved in this action now?

- Can you listen through your whole self and notice if there are any areas that you are holding more than you need to?

- Can you let these parasitic efforts go?

Reduce the size of the circles until they disappear.

- How is your balance over your two knees now?

- Is your tailbone directed to a different point on the floor?

- Has the alignment of your lower legs changed?

Stand up and notice your weight distribution over your feet. Sense your balance, your breath and your uprightness. Can you imagine how you might take this new sense of yourself into your riding?

To explore this concept deeper, join us for our free 3-part live training video series starting on April 30th:

The Aware Rider Video Series 2.png

“The Aware Rider” Free 3-Part Live Video Training Series With Dr. Thomas Ritter and Feldenkrais Practitioner, Catherine McCrum

Part 1. The Aware Rider: Developing Rider Feel - Tuesday, April 30 7:00pm CEST / 6:00pm GMT

In this FREE live training, Dr. Thomas Ritter and Feldenkrais Practitioner, Catherine McCrum will discuss how you can develop feel as a rider. In order to develop feel, it is important to reduce your muscular efforts. A simple example is how much effort do you need in your fingers to hold a glass without it dropping. When you can reduce the stimulus, you are able to sense small differences in quality. It's about finding quietness and composure in yourself which enhances your awareness as a rider.

RSVP to Facebook event:

Part 2. The Dynamic Seat - Thursday, May 2 6:00pm CEST / 5:00pm GMT

Why do riders struggle with their seat despite knowing what's correct?

If your pelvis is not organised then everything falls apart, BUT everything above and below also needs to know how to organise around the pelvis.

We will talk about:

- the seat as the centre for powerful action.

- developing sensitivity

- refining your balance

- finding the least effort for what your'e doing, Rather than thinking that you need to be stronger

- Noticing the small ways that you hold and fix yourself more than you need

- Finding “stillness through motion“, i.e. a visually quiet seat is the result of moving in synch with the horse, whereas trying to “sit still“ results in stiffness and excessive motion in the wrong places.

RSVP to Facebook event:

Part 3. Discovering Balance and Harmony - Tuesday, May 7 at 7:00pm CEST / 6:00pm GMT

In this FREE live Training, Dr. Thomas Ritter and Feldenkrais Practitioner, Catherine McCrum will discuss how riders discover and develop Balance and Harmony in riding.

- developing sensitivity and refining balance

- Do you know what you are doing?

- Does your proprioception match reality?

RSVP to Facebook event:

These events are totally free and are held on Facebook. All will be recorded and can be viewed afterwards but we will answer questions LIVE and we LOVE LOVE LOVE your interaction so if you can, join us!!!

Because these are LIVE EVENTS, you can interact with us, comment, ask questions, joke around, etc. We INVITE your interaction. This is a casual event. Let's get together and CHAT.

Instructions for attending:

1. RSVP to each event. (Links above). Facebook will send you a notification one hour before the live event begins.

2. Sign up for Facebook Messenger Reminders here and you will get a direct link when it begins. (You can unsubscribe at any time by simply typing “STOP”)

3. You can attend direct on Facebook by going to the Ritter Dressage page at at the time of the event.

4. Alternatively you can attend via free Zoom webinar software. To attend via Zoom instead of Facebook, you need to first sign up for the free account at and download their free webinar software. You can attend via Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, or mobile device. Sign up for Facebook Messenger reminders ( )and then to attend, click on the Zoom link we send out in the reminders. During the event you can ask your questions in the chatbox.

5. Bring your questions. Invite your friends.

6. Sit down with your beverage of choice and let's make this fun!

About Catherine: Catherine McCrum now participates as an Assistant Teacher in our Artistic Dressage Online Courses Program. She is an accredited Feldenkrais practitioner and has been teaching sport, fitness and movement since 1986 as first a ski instructor/coach and then as a Personal Trainer. In 2002 she finished her Feldenkrais training. She is also a rider and is joining us in this course to help you learn how to recognize how the way you use your body can be interfering with your ability to progress in your riding. She is also a Gestalt psychotherapist with a particular interest in working with developing awareness of how her clients embody their emotional and psychological patterns.