If you’ve spoken to non-horsey people about riding, or Dressage in particular, the you’ve probably heard that ‘horse riding is not a sport or exercise, you just sit there’.
I used to be one of these people that believed this and that horse riding was not a form of exercise. Boy was I wrong! A 45min lesson (even 20mins) has me and my horse sweating and puffing from working our bodies correctly in new ways mentally and physically.
Keeping fit out of the saddle is extremely important for longevity of rider and horse. You cannot expect a horse to carry a dead weight around the arena! Improving fitness and strength in the gym (or at home) will also carry over to riding. So I regularly hit up the gym and track my macros with my PT’s support to reduce my overall weight and increase muscle strength. I’m even in the process of preparing to compete in the bikini division of bodybuilding for 2020!
There’s many exercises directly related to riding. These include core exercises, seated rows, hip thrusts, deadlifts and squats. Each strengthen a different or multiple aspects of the body. We need strong legs and adductors to maintain stability and balance; and strength in the abdominals, shoulders and lower backs for upper position and rein control.
I have never been as fit in the saddle as I am today, but there’s always room for improvement. Stretching for flexibility is another topic…however just as essential to being a good rider.
Leave me a comment about your own fitness journey in and out of the saddle! I’d love to find out how you cross train to improve your own riding.