When it comes to improving your riding, what you do out of the saddle can be just as important as what you do in it. Rider fitness is an often overlooked part of any training plan, but it can play a significant role in your ability to perform, regardless of the level you ride at.
Fitness is the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen to your working muscles. When you become out of breath, it’s because your muscles need more oxygen than your heart and lungs are able to supply, so you become fatigued and your muscle power decreases. Think about how that might affect you halfway round a jumping course. You’d become less balanced, slower to react and more likely to fall off if your horse has a spook or a run-out.
The idea of embarking on a fitness programme can feel a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are numerous pathways you can go down, including options that are easy to fit into your busy lifestyle.
I often get asked if it’s important to warm up before riding. With other sports, there’s usually a 5–10 minute warm-up that includes a pulse-raising activity and some dynamic stretching. If we apply this to the horse world, it could be as simple as mucking out or walking to the field to catch your horse.
A problem for many riders is simply finding the time to work on their personal fitness. Often, owners are limited by long working hours, meeting the needs of their horse, looking after children or not being able to afford a gym membership. For those that work full-time with horses, early starts with long and physically intensive days can leave specific fitness training way off the priority list.
Works on your…Core
How…Kneel down so you form the points of a square with your hands and knees. Slowly stretch one arm out in front of you and the opposite leg behind, all the while keeping your pelvis and back level. Imagine you have a tray of drinks on your back that you don’t want to spill
For more easy exercises and great tips on improving your fitness, pick up a copy of March Horse&Rider, on sale 10 January.