“Some of my friends are race riders and pound for pound they are one of the strongest athletes, but also the least flexible,” said Kathy Fremes, an equestrian coach who began practicing yoga in her teens. “Whatever your discipline—English or Western—this is an activity that can produce desirable qualities for riders such as suppleness, body awareness, balance, alignment, flexibility and relaxation,” says Ms Fremes adding,” the last quality is probably the most important one for people taking up horseback riding for the first time.”

Like yoga done on a mat, the rider needs little equipment except a riding helmet, comfortable clothing, and a boot with a heel. “And for those who are embarking on the sport and don’t own a helmet one is supplied and there is no need to buy fancy riding boot because all our saddle have safety stirrups and most people have hiking boots with heel.”

“There were two situations that made me come to the decision that yoga on horseback was something I wanted to do at Country Hill Farm, an equestrian centre I’ve owned and operated for more than 25 years. Since a car accident I’ve had a chronic back condition that yoga has helped to keep me pain free and in the saddle. But this year, I started coaching the Bill Crother’s Secondary School Equestrian Team—a public school for athletes who did ride as their primary sport. I’ve never seen young people progress as quickly as this talented lot and I realized that the reason was they had the flexibility and body awareness that most normal people new to the equestrian sport don’t possess”

An article in the Globe and Mail about a travel destination in Middleburg, Virginia ran recently and it mentioned that yoga was offered on horseback. But the good news is you don’t have to travel to an expensive spa to get the same experience close to home. “I find that once people try it, they are surprised how it helps improve their performance as a rider but also that of their mount. It’s a win-win situation.

“I also feel that the environmental award-winning horse farm offers the ideal place for busy city folks to decompress and it’s only a quick 40-minute drive northeast of Toronto,” says Ms Fremes. “I’ll be spreading the news at the Yoga Show this weekend. Next time someone considers going south to a spa to do yoga on horseback I hope they’ll consider a quick retreat to Country Hill Farm,” says Ms Fremes.