By: Brittany Bevis
A beautiful dance is the result of two partners becoming one. Dancing is essentially the outward expression of a strong internal partnership. There must be trust, give and take, and a willingness to communicate. In that sense, the horse is the ultimate dance partner.
Third generation horsewoman, Miss Kinsey Fitts, is an energetic, outgoing, happy, and warm, 7-year-old. She enjoys spending time outdoors riding her 20-year-old pony, “Moki.” She also loves to dance, specializing in lyrical, jazz, musical theater, contemporary, and ballet. Her mother, Callie Fitts, an accomplished rider, trainer, and American Riding Instructors Association instructor, learned that combining her daughter’s two loves has resulted in improved performance in both disciplines.
“Kinsey has been exposed to horses and riding since she was born,” Callie says. “Her grandmother, Joni Fitts, has owned a riding school for more than forty years. Kinsey has been in the saddle since before she could walk.”
“Kinsey has been taking dance lessons since she was four. She competes in team and solo performances. She currently dances several times a week at Danceplex in Scottsdale AZ. Kinsey also takes tumbling gymnastic classes, which help to strengthen her dance and improve her tricks and flexibility for her dance moves.”
Callie explains that dance, gymnastics, and horseback riding all benefit from good core development. In addition, having excellent flexibility improves a rider’s ability to move with a horse more freely.
“All of these sports require self awareness and being physically fit. Together, this combination compliments each discipline. Kinsey’s flexibility is an asset to being an equestrian. Riding horses requires us to use our bodies in a way only riding does. Having loose joints and supple muscles makes it easier for our bodies to give and move with the horses.”
Like any other athletic endeavor, being an equestrian requires body coordination, core strength, and perceptive timing. However, the flexibility portion of the equation is often sadly overlooked.
Tight hip flexors, angry quads, stiff hip joints, and cranky calves are often the result of hours spent in the saddle, if you don’t have a dedicated stretching and strength routine. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Even though she’s only seven, Kinsey can recognize how both dancing and riding horses are very similar and complement each other. “I like that dance helps with my strength, flexibility, and coordination,” Kinsey says. “I like the way dance makes me concentrate on how I need to use my body.”
“I enjoy the challenge of communicating with horses through my body. Riding a horse is like having a dance partner. I use my legs, seat, hands, and eyes to think forward and move ahead. I have to relax many parts of my body to move with the horse’s motion and follow my partner.”
When she hangs up her point shoes and tutu for the day, Kinsey can be found out in the barn, riding, grooming, and enjoying the company of Moki, a retired POA in his mid-twenties. Moki was formerly a children’s Hunter pony, but began his new career as Kinsey’s lesson pony when she was five years old. She also works as a lesson horse at the Joni Fitts School of Horsemanship in Phoenix AZ.
“Moki teaches children about caring for and riding horses,” Callie says. “Moki is educated, experienced, kind, patient, and forgiving. She has given Kinsey the opportunity to become responsible and has helped her to become independent and confident.”
Looking to improve your flexibility? Check out these yoga poses that will help to improve your performance in the saddle.