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Jennifer Kotylo
Jennifer Kotylo

Brought to you by: Jennifer Kotylo, creator of the DVD series Improve Your Riding Through Movement available at

In order to follow the motion of your horse correctly, your hip joints need to be able to move. Most people don’t even know where their hip joints are, let alone if they are moving correctly or not. Your hip joint is actually pretty deep within your pelvis, but can be felt along the front of your body in the middle of your groin. They are not on the outside of your pelvis. Your hip joint is a classic ball and socket joint which means that your leg should be able to move in pretty much every direction with ease. Because most of us spend so much time sitting, these joints start to lose their mobility. Here are five easy-to-do movements that will get your hips moving again, allowing you to better follow the motion of your horse.

Jennifer Kotylo 1. Knee Sways – Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your legs together. If your neck is uncomfortable, use a small pillow under your head. Then, simply let your legs fall to one side and then the other. Don’t use any force, just allow your legs to move back and forth. This motion moves the ball of your leg around in your hip socket. As an added bonus, your lower back gets a nice stretch too. If the movement is flowing through your body correctly, you may end up scooting up the floor a bit. That’s a good thing!
2. Knee Circles – Lay on the floor with your knees bent. Make sure that your ankles, knees and hips are in alignment. Place a pillow under your head if your neck is uncomfortable. Keeping your knees bent lift one leg up and hold it behind your thigh with your hands. Use your hands to make small circles, essentially stirring your leg bone within the hip socket. Circle the leg in both directions for a minute or two. Perform the circles with the other leg.
3. Ankle Rocking - Stand with your legs about hip distance apart. If you have balance issues, hold onto something stable. Stand on various parts of your feet; first your toes, then your heels, then the outside or your foot and then the inside. Play with these various stances for a couple of minutes. Yes, your ankles are getting a workout, but so are your hips! For an added challenge, walk around while changing how you stand on your feet. If you place your hands on your hip joints you will feel how much your hips are moving in their sockets!
Jennifer Kotylo4. Squatting Circles - Stand with your legs together, squat down slightly and place your hands on your thighs. Keeping your hands on your thighs and your knees bent, start to circle your knees, first in one direction, and then the other. Not only does this exercise supple your hips, but your knees, ankles and lower back too! Circle for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Jennifer Kotylo5. Clam Shells - Lay on the floor on your side. Try to make sure that your pelvis is perpendicular to the floor, not leaning either forward or back. Your legs should be stacked one atop the other, with your knees bent. Keeping your feet touching, begin to slowly raise and lower your top knee, creating a clam-shell effect. Only raise your leg to the level where it naturally wants to go, don’t force it. Raise and lower approximately 10 times. Roll over and do the same movement with the other leg.

Don’t forget to smile. You are doing something wonderful for your body, enjoy the process!

About Jennifer Kotylo

Jennifer came to Pilates for some rehabilitation work. “I had always wanted to be the best rider I could be, even though I was not blessed with a natural athlete’s body. A lifetime of bad postural habits, sitting behind a desk and ignored injuries had turned my body into a crooked, stiff mess. I tried massage and acupuncture, and they certainly helped, but it was Pilates that gave me my body back. In fact, Pilates made such a significant impact on my riding that I committed myself to becoming certified as both a Core Dynamics Pilates instructor and as one of Betsy Steiner’s Equilates instructors.”

Jennifer developed a passion for body awareness and biomechanics while pursuing her lifelong quest of international level dressage riding. She is a certified Core Dynamics Pilates Instructor, certified Equilates teacher and certified Balimo practitioner. “My goal now is to use my knowledge to help others fulfill their physical dreams, whether they are running a marathon, easing the debilitating effects of neurological disease or returning to bio-correctness after an injury or repetitive misuse.”

Jennifer is also a freelance writer, editor and marketing consultant with an MBA in finance and strategic planning from Indiana University and a BA in economics from the College of Wooster. Among her many credentials are:
Certified Core Dynamics Pilates Instructor
Certified Level 2 Equilates Instructor both Pilates Track and Riding Track
Certified Echart Meyners’ Balimo Teacher
USDF “L” Judges Program Graduate with Distinction
US Pony Club – C-3
John Argue’s Movement for Parkinson’s Disease
Michelle Larson’s Pilates for Scoliosis
Yamuna Body Rolling
The Egoscue Method
So Tai
Applied Kinesiology
Alexander Technique

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