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Revolutionise Your Riding with the Alexander Technique

Sally Tottle, 16:9 widescreen PAL DVD, 55 mins, price £19.99. www.bodysenseuk.com

Review by Clare Adams (first published in Statnews, September 2007).

As a horse-rider, riding instructor and Alexander teacher I was very much looking forward to watching Sally’s new DVD. I have long been a fan of her BodySense book and recommend it to many of my riding pupils as a great introduction to the Technique. Having attended several of Sally’s courses in the past I was anticipating being able to see Sally’s teaching methods in practice on this DVD and hoping to have another resource to recommend, as nothing convinces a sceptical pupil better than visual proof (apart from direct experience that is!).

The DVD itself has an easy-to-use layout with a wide range of case-studies following on from a clear introduction to the Technique. In this introduction Sally explains how easy it is to develop bad habits in all areas of our lives, which then start to feel normal despite having a detrimental effect on our health. Horse-riders are no exception, especially as stableyard work is very physical. She explains how her BodySense methods help you to rediscover and develop your kinaesthetic sense and, through the Alexander Technique, help you to let go of excess tension and become aware of habits that restrict your progress.

Sally goes on to work with a variety of experienced riders from different disciplines which helps the DVD feel relevant to a wider range of riders. Often the usefulness of the Technique is seen to be limited to dressage riders or those with bad backs. By teaching and interviewing an endurance rider, eventer, dressage rider, trainer and judge, Sally illustrates that it can be of benefit to all riders who want to ride to their full potential and develop a greater rapport with their horse.

One of my favourite parts of the DVD was the case-study of Karen, an endurance rider, as here you see more of Sally’s teaching skills in action. You are shown clips of before and after an Alexander lesson and helped to recognise where the rider is holding excess tension and how that is affecting her. It is fascinating to observe the changes that come about, and the rider herself was clearly delighted with the greater ease and balance she discovered.

For me though this was where the DVD became somewhat tantalising, as Karen’s was the only case-study to show clear before and after shots. The case-studies were each quite short and usually left me wanting to see more of how Sally worked with each pupil. Pupils describe how the Technique has helped them, but without actually witnessing it the viewer has to take this largely on trust, which is a shame. I would have loved to have watched a longer DVD and been able to see the changes taking place.

Overall this DVD provides an introduction to the Technique for riders who are not sure what it is, or if it could help them, and makes it clear that the only way to really find out is to have a lesson.

© Clare Adams 2007




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