Revolutionise Your Riding with the Alexander Technique
Sally Tottle, 16:9 widescreen PAL DVD, 55 mins, price
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
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
© Clare Adams