By Peyton Bodziak.
Contrary to what many in the world believe, equestrians are athletes. Being an athlete involves practicing on a daily basis, monitoring your health, and doing whatever it takes to make it to the top.
The hard part about “practicing” riding, compared to other sports, is that for most of us we cannot go in our backyard and “pass the ball with our dad.” There are others ways, though, to develop a better seat.
My trainer, Kathryn Hope, (besides being an amazing instructor) has a workout business as well. She is especially tuned in on equestrian workouts and helped immensely with this article. I would definitely recommend Kathryn Hope Beyond Fitness to anyone asking.
One way to maintain our riding fitness is to work out. Like every other sport, there are many different workouts specifically tuned to the muscles that equestrians use. Running everyday may help your cardio, but it isn’t helping the exact leg muscles you use when riding.
The most common muscles used in riding are the obliques, the transverse abdominus, psoas, ilicaus, piroformis, and the gluteus muscles. Cross-training is the key to getting in the best shape possible. It works the many different muscles that equestrians use everyday.
Here are a few equestrian workouts that you can do at home with minimal supplies:
- Yoga. Besides just being relaxing, yoga works many different muscle groups and strengthens your flexibility. Flexibility makes the muscles stronger, as well as makes you less likely to get injured while riding. It focuses a lot on abdominal strength, which is a key component in balance and a good seat. Besides taking a class, there are many YouTube videos that teach yoga. My recommendation is Sadie Nardini’s channel.
- Cardio. Running and biking are primary examples of good cardio. Although when it comes to running, it can stiffen the hip flexors and other joints that need to be supple while riding. Walking on an incline is good cardio as well.
- Core & Stability. This is especially tuned towards hunter/jumpers who need the strength to elevate their core with the horse’s rhythm. Stability will help balance going over fences and just in general.
Working out does not have to be a burden.
It can be made fun by listening to music or making a game out of it. You have to think about the big picture, not just what’s going on in the moment. Get a group of friends together and do group yoga. My barn has a group workout twice a week where we focus on getting into the best shape for the upcoming show season. Besides just getting into shape and being active, we are bonding and everyone has a great time.
So, if you want to improve your riding, get off the couch and go hit the gym! But remember: Think about the big picture.