Aline Pilates in Brooklyn, New York, has created a Pilates class specifically designed to help clients interested in horseback riding, just in time for the summer season.
“Riding and Pilates is a perfect partnership,” says Carey Macaleer, the owner and founder of Aline Pilates. “Pilates’ focus is on the core connection. We ask our bodies' muscles to hug the midline (pull everything inward.) It’s the same focus that equestrians need to do while riding.”
According to Macaleer, improving posture is one of the most important parts of preparing the body to effectively handle a horse. She focuses on specific areas, like shoulders, abs and feet. “The shoulder girdle stabilization is key. Being able to find the connection to the muscles in your back (your ‘lats’) will give you more power to control the horse,” she says. “Pulling the abs in deeply gives you the power/strength to lead the horse. It helps to stabilize the hips, which are a driving force in moving the horse in the correct direction.”
When Macaleer focuses on the feet, her goal is making sure clients distribute their weight evenly so one heel isn’t stronger than the other, which can help thighs to rotate properly. “That’s so important, because it gives you power to direct the horse,” she says.
One of Macaleer's clients, Gillian Dubin, has found the practice especially effective. “Riding takes an incredible amount of core strength, stability, balance of yourself and the horse,” says Dubin. “Pilates is centered around all of those as well. Additionally, it really helps put you in touch with your body in a way I never imagined possible. That can translate into anything, but I can target specific strengths I need to work on.”