Frankin Balls - Various
What are Franklin balls?
Franklin balls are air- or water-filled plastic balls around 10cm in diameter (there are also massager rolls), used as part of the Franklin Method, which was developed in 1994 by Eric Franklin. Use of the balls has been taken up by some trainers and riding physios in the past five years or so, in the belief that they help communicate the horse’s movements more clearly to the rider and help improve their seat and body awareness.
Rebecca Ashton is an equestrian performance coach now based in Australia after years spent dressage training in the UK and Europe. She uses Franklin balls as part of her coaching.
“Sometimes feeling the correct way is more helpful than verbal instructions from the trainer — and often less stressful for rider, trainer and horse! When the brain learns how to execute a function or movement by doing, the lesson can often be retained in the body longer or be recalled quicker and more correctly,” she says.
“Introducing a ‘third party’ such as the Franklin Balls can help heighten sensory awareness and help connect the brain to the body. This can also help focus the rider’s energy and awareness onto themselves which helps to train focus and improve concentration and decrease the tendency to be swayed or distracted by external influences.”
How can they help riders?
Alison Rushby is a Franklin Method teacher and Level 1 Centred Riding instructor based in Northumberland. She uses Franklin balls as part of her training.
“I use them in unmounted workshops for riders to help muscles lengthen and relax. It also gives riders more conscious control of asymmetry,” says Alison.
“The imagery work allows riders to organise their body better. One of the key teachings of the Franklin Method is visualising what is happening when you move in a specific way, by learning the position of bones, muscles and ligaments and how they move.”