Harry Hall Ambassador and keen eventer Tamsin Drew has struggled with back pain for years. But Pilates has had startling results for her... I have been suffering with back pain and sciatica for the last few years due to disc wear and tear and slight scoliosis, leaving me wonky with a dropped right pelvis. Where I always thought I was standing and walking straight, my tilt was very noticeable especially when sitting on a horse and this made jumping and dressage much more difficult for me and for my horse, as I was always much stronger in my left seat bone and stirrup.


Regular physio and acupuncture did wonders in getting me straighter and pain free, though I needed further support to help strengthen my back and core muscles. After recommendations from my physiotherapist I joined my local Reformer Pilates Studio. Having never attended yoga, a mat or reformer pilates class before I wasn’t sure what to expect. Thankfully Akasha Wellness (Pilates Studio) have a weekly “gentle” class which I joined. It took a few classes to understand the basic foundations, equipment and remember some of the easier exercises.

Reformer Pilates uses a low bed-like frame with a flat platform on it called a carriage which rolls back and forth on wheels within a frame. The carriage is attached at one end with a set of springs, which provide different levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame. The carriage also has all kinds of additions such as a foot-bar, shoulder blocks, straps and so on.

Body weight and resistance of the springs are what make the carriage more or less difficult to move. Exercises can be performed lying, sitting, kneeling and standing, and the less body on the carriage the more difficult the exercise.

After four classes I was feeling much more confident and moved up to the more advanced classes which are a bit faster in pace as well as having trickier exercises. Each class I’ve attended has provided a different set of exercises including stretching your spine, building core muscle strength and overall stronger arm and leg muscles.

Some of exercises I find more difficult, for example “Long Spine” which is very much about a strong spine and feeling confident with the equipment. Where other exercises including rowings (a bit like rowing a boat) and the popular plank exercises I find a bit easier and I really love the jump board exercises which targets the core and legs as well as being a great cardio workout and fast paced.

I’ve been going to Reformer Pilates for four months now and find it challenging but very rewarding, great for the mind-body co-ordination and has definitely improved my balance and core strength. I’ve not had back pain for months and overall I’m much more flexible then I have been for years. 

It’s made such a difference to my riding and find I’m staying straighter and taller and really starting to use my core for collective work in dressage and while not dropping my right shoulder and has even helped my hands stay stiller! 

What we have been wearing this month:

Ziggy has been wearing the new Protechmasta Infrared Fly Veil which has really helped him stay relaxed and focused, less tense through the poll with the added bonus it’s soundproof, keeping his concentration in the dressage arena, for better marks.

I have been wearing the Harry Hall Milldale Dark Grey gilet, smart and lightweight, excellent fit and stylish, perfect for the spring weather or with a t-shirt if you are wanting to carry your phone.