Use of the Franklin balls in riding lessons


People are always asking how best to use the Franklin Balls Rider Set when riding. My own practical experience as a trainer B / FN has shown the following:

Mini roll (light blue):
For riders who have problems standing up or swinging. Initially in a walk and for a few minutes when sitting out for the first time in a trot, place it under the ischial tuberosities (for very confident riders also in a canter). After removing the roller, the rider should report back how it feels now. As a rule, the pelvis is more mobile, the rider is more upright and has the impression of sitting lower in the saddle. With regular use, the seating problems improved quite quickly.

Balls (orange or red):
For riders who have problems with arm and hand position or in the head/shoulder area. The balls are intended to mobilize the shoulders and are placed as high as possible in the armpit. Then let the rider ride for about 10 minutes, even if he feels a little uncomfortable at first because of the spread arms. The arms, shoulders and upper body are usually more relaxed afterwards than before. E.g. raised shoulders, stretched and firm arms etc. are improved, the hand action becomes more sensitive.
For riders who pinch their knees/thighs, the balls can be placed in different parts of the thigh. Don't let it ride for too long either, change the position of the balls several times and try out what works best. The balls open the knees and massage and loosen the muscles.

Franklin Fascia Roll (dark blue):
Like mini roll, but heavier and less mobile. For use with advanced riders where the pelvic movement needs to be optimized - especially for gathering work. The riders “jump” less than with the light blue roller, the effect goes more into the depth of the muscles.

Original Franklin balls (turquoise with hollows):
Very useful for riders who sit crookedly. These balls are inserted on one side under the ischial tuberosity and changed several times. This targeted “unbalancing” leads to greater mobility and better unconscious balance. After removing the balls, the rider notices his crookedness better because the brain has actually saved the otherwise incorrect sitting as correct and now has to correct the movement pattern with the balls.

Further to note:

An unreflective generalization of these instructions does not make sense, as every rider has different requirements. That's why it's important as an instructor to closely observe how the riding students and their horses react to the use of the balls or rollers. The use must be adapted to the individual needs of the rider/horse pair.
However, you shouldn't be put off if students initially feel uncomfortable with it. You are specifically forced out of your usual movement patterns and that is not easy! However, the result is usually so convincing that the riding students continue to “play along” and support the use of Franklin balls and rollers.

(Quote from the book “Riding with Franklin Balls” by Eckert Meyners)

Author of the article: Christel Helmstetter-Kaikhosrowi (Trainer B / FN focus on dressage)

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