Academic Art of Riding & Franklin method

With focus on body awareness and partnership for strong and happy horses.

My name is Maria Homström (Pihl) and I teach the Academic Art of Riding in the west of Sweden, and am based in Göteborg. To me Academic Art of Riding is a beautiful form of art with focus on body awareness and partnership with the horse. To build up healthy horses that joyfully perform their work.  That is for me true wellness for the horse. In my work as an instructor I often saw how small changes in the seat made a big difference in the horse-human team and this made me even more interested in the seat. Now I am studying the human and our movements according to the Franklin method, and I offer seat education according to this principle, regardless of riding discipline.

Here on my site you can find my blog where you can take part of my life with horses, the Franklin method and Academic Art of Riding, how I am training and philosophizing about horse life. In my free online course “AAoR school“, I have written a bit more in detail about how to start with Academic Art of Riding and how to develop your senses about horses. On my page on the Franklin method you can find tips and exercises for a better seat.

About Academic Art of Riding
Academic Art of Riding is based on how horses were trained back in the days and is building on the knowledge of old masters like Xenophon, Pluvinel, Guérinière and Newcastle, to mention a few. Bent Branderup reinstated this form of art and his motto is “Two spirits who want to do what two bodies can”. He created the knighthood of the Academic Art of Riding with knights and squires and is now reaching out with the message that dressage is for the horse, the horse is not used for dressage. Dressage is used to build up strong and healthy horses and not mainly to collect rosettes. The goal is to make the horse able to carry itself and its rider in a healthy and sustainable way. Read more about how to do it in the AAoR school.


I am an instructor in the Academic Art of Riding and I offer both lessons and clinics. I can also train your horse for you. I’ll drive to your stable to allow you to train in the comfort of your home environment.

  • Maybe you want to find a stable yet flexible seat om the horse back?
  • Maybe you want to discover a new, soft and nice way of working with your horse and need a trainer to guide you?
  • Or do you have a so called problem horse with bad habits that you want to break the pattern with for you and your horse can  become a well functioning team?
  • Or maybe your horse has been hurt and now you want to start training again in a different way than you did?

Maybe you want a well mannered horse that is nice to ride in the forest? Or maybe you want intense training in the seat, the Academic Art of Riding, or rehabilitate your horse? Regardless of your goals I am happy to help you. Read more in lessons.



Franklinmetoden – Teori och/eller praktik?

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Ibland får jag frågor om Franklinmetoden och om det är bättre att börja med teori eller praktik. Jag skulle säga att det går bra med vilket som, men jag rekommenderar verkligen båda!

Under ridlektionerna jobbar man med känslan på hästen. Hur vill jag sitta på hästen, röra mig tillsammans med hästen, sjunka djupt ner i sadeln och hitta min följsamhet? Givetvis jobbar vi med hur vi gör detta på hästen. Ju bättre man kan fokusera på sig själv en stund desto bättre brukar ekipaget röra sig tillsammans. “Hästen har aldrig gått bättre”, och “så här djupt ner i sadeln har jag aldrig suttit förr”, är några kommentarer från elever efter endast en lektion. Givetvis ingår en del teori även i ridlektionerna, men det finns helt enkelt inte tid och möjlighet att ta in någon djupare teori under ridpassen. Därför är det väldigt bra att även gå en teoretisk lektion.

…body awareness-klasser …

Teoretisk lektion, jag det kanske faktiskt är fel ord. Det är en avsutten lektion, utan hästen. Vad det inte är, är en föreläsning. Man sitter inte still och bara tar in information. Jag kanske borde börja kalla mina teorilektioner för body awareness-klasser istället, för det är vad det är! Den mesta delen av tiden är vi igång med olika övningar för att lära känna vår kropp och hur den rör sig. Jag varvar teori med övningar och fokus ligger hela tiden på att du ska känna vad som  händer i din kropp.

… fokus ligger hela tiden på att du ska känna vad som  händer i din kropp.

Anatomi, har ni kanske bilden av en torr gammal professor som rapar upp muskler och ben, var de fäster in i varandra osv… Små urtrista detaljer som i praktiken inte gör dig till en bättre ryttare? Såhär jobbar vi inte med anatomi i Franklinmetoden! Om jag ber dig sätta fingrarna på dina sittben, och du får uppleva hur de rör sig i förhållande till din kropp, ja då har vi plötsligt anatomi som betyder något. Jag har helt plötsligt känt hur mina sittben rör sig! När jag har känt det här på marken kan jag även ta upp den kunskapen i sadeln och använda den. Det är sådana här anatomikunskaper som vi jobbar med i Franklinmetoden. De som betyder något i praktiken och gör att du kan röra dig på ett mer effektivt sätt.

Om jag berättar om hur diafragman ser ut och du får känna på och stretcha denna andningsmuskel och därefter känner hur du tar stora, luftiga andetag, ja då betydde diafragmaanatomin något, och det blir helt plötsligt riktigt spännande med anatomi! Inget dammigt, tråkigt, onödigt alls, utan kunskaper som får dig att må bättre! Ridlektioner och teoripass kompletterar varandra så otroligt väl, och om man har fått de teoretiska kunskaperna på marken så kan man använda dessa på hästen och komma framåt mycket snabbare än om man bara tar ridlektioner och då endast får den mer basala teorin.

Så kort sagt går Franklinmetoden ut på att du ska må bättre, andas bättre, röra dig bättre! Både på marken och på hästen!


Ride with the Franklin method

Today was the first time I was riding my horses again after starting my Franklin method training. It was an amazing feeling in my body and my horses were doing great. What did I do? Well,  today I just used my imagination and recalled the feeling in my body that I had obtained in the Franklin method equestrian pelvis training.

In the Franklin method training we were learning a lot about anatomy and movement of the pelvis. This included bones, muscles, fascia and movement in the joints. The hip joints were of course also included as well as the sacrolumbar connections. And of course the pedagogy of the Franklin method was taught, a pedagogy I very much like. It is really learning by doing. If you can feel a difference in your own body, and it is a difference to the better, you will be more likely to use your new knowledge than if you know all the little bony points in the pelvis region but you have no clue what to use it for.

Even if imagery is the corner stone of the Franklin method it may be most known for its balls and bands. By using balls and bands on our body and in the saddle when riding we can improve our proprioception, the awareness where our body parts are placed in space and in relation to other parts.

During the Franklin course we were riding the mechanical horse Martha, using imagery, balls and bands, and it was very efficient in creating a better seat. Today when I was riding my horses I didn’t use any balls or bands, but could still copy the feeling I had during the course. It was present in my body memory and I was imagining things like crazy. There were springs in my joints, a pole through my body, my clavicles were free and shining light into the world, I had dolphins jumping with me and I imagined my legs as attached by strings to my pelvis, so they could hang long and loose. And I was breathing deep, oh so deep. It was really great fun and the horses were responding to it by being great! Do you want to know more about the Franklin method? Well, I need some “guinea pigs” to practice teaching the Franklin method. I will teach for free but won’t drive too far. You can of course always come to me with your horse, then there is a paddock fee of 50 SEK. If you are interested please send me an email: or contact me on facebook.


Sit to the inside or the outside?

How are we supposed to sit on the horse? To the inside, to the outside or equal over the horse? Should it vary when we do different exercises? You sure can get confused, because you can hear about all sorts of different ways of sitting.

When talking about the seat we need to think about what we want to accomplish on the horse back. In Academic Art of Riding we want to educate the spirit, mind and bodies of horse and human. We want the horse to be able to carry itself and us in a good way, that does no damage to either horse or human. But how does a horse carry properly? All four legs must go in one direction, with hind legs stepping in under the seat of the rider and front leg stepping in under the muzzle. As the inside hind leg moves forward the inside hip should come forward and down. The belly then rotates to allow space for the inside hindleg. It is actually not just the belly that rotates, but the whole spine of the horse, from tail to neck. This is called bending and it goes along with stellning. Stellning is the rotation of the skull, where the inside lower jaw is moved in the direction under the wing of the atlas, the first neck vertebrae. However, for this to happen the head must first be searching forward. If the head is held back there is no space to rotate and obtain stellning. Here are some pictures to show when stellning is and is not possible. The bending of the horse can be seen as a rotation of the chest. The inside gets lowered and the outside is raised. The raised outside chest brings along the outside shoulder, that will be lifted and free. The Duke of Newcastle once said the inner leg should appear lower than the outside, and this is because of the rotation of the chest.

Bröta rotated her chest and let me down on her inside. Hence my legs appear unequal in length. My inner leg is working downwards  and my outside leg is working upwards.

Now we know we need chest rotation for a proper bending and stellning. If we allow our inner seat bone and inside leg aids to go downwards when the inside hip is moving forward down,  and  the outer seat bone and leg aids to go upwards we can maintain  the chest rotation and hence bending and stellning. If we press down our outside seat bone we will spoil the chest rotation, the bending and the stellning, and create some hideous curves in the spine. This is unhealthy for the horse and the rider. This gives the answer to how to sit on the horse. We must always sit lower on the inside and higher on the outside seat bone. However, note that there is a difference between lowering your inner seat bone and hanging all of your weight on the inside. You may experience some difficulties lowering the inside seat bone, but then you may try to lift the outside one. Some seat lessons to become aware of your body, pelvis and movements may also be a good suggestion. Good luck!