Posted by: rstor | February 19, 2014

The Importance of Rider Fitness

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We equestrians often spend a lengthy period of time prior to the spring season planning and preparing our equine’s fitness. But how much attention do we pay to our own?

A fit rider is much better for the horse and therefore in turn a safer rider too. A rider who is fit and toned will feel lighter on the horse’s back compared to a rider of the same weight who is less balanced in the saddle.If you are unfit and tire easily your weight can in some cases affect your horse’s way of going and the comfort of his back.

Rider fitness is not just important for our horses and ponies! Poor posture, muscle imbalances, and general lack of fitness can make riding less enjoyable, and this may lead to less time in the saddle limiting the amount we are able to progress. Not being able to use certain muscles properly will make providing correct aids to your equine more difficult making the challenging task of horse riding even more taxing. An inability to apply the aids correctly lands us horse riders in a position which is less safe, as we are less able to communicate with our equine partner so RS-tor takes a look at some top tips for getting fit for the saddle!

RS-tor’s Top Rider Fitness Tips! 

Cardio Fitness

Strengthening your heart muscle is beneficial for all elements of life health and fitness but your ability to keep blood pumping around the body and fueling your muscles with oxygen is essential to not reaching fatigue when horse riding. Cardio exercise requires a sustained elevation in your pulse and respiratory rates, and a particular type of energy expenditure that results from typically a short duration of intense work such as running or jumping your horse.

Flexibility

We’ve long thought that stretching before any exercise was a good idea to warm up our muscles and prevent strains. Lower back pain affects many horse riders and can prevent them from riding as effectively. A supple back is essential for providing correct aids and staying with the motion of the horse. Pilates classes can be a useful way to improve rider flexibility and core stability.

Pilates for horse riders trainer Lindsay Wilcox-Reid suggests that a lot of rider back pain is due to postural and movement patterns. Improved rider alignment and enhanced flexibility and symmetry will help to prevent the horse’s movement being transferred through the body in an unhelpful way.

In addition when nervous Lindsay explains that lots of riders don’t breathe properly which can have a slightly immobilising effect of the lower back and hips. To limit being nervous when riding always use your RS-tor Riding Safety Aid, giving you the confidence that you will “have an handle on any situation”.

Strength

Strength training is very important, especially as we get older. Spend some time lifting weights with a qualified personal trainer, and you’ll notice the benefits – lifting saddles and feed bags suddenly becomes much easier! Pilates can also help here strengthening the abdominals and the back muscles which support the spine, and helps us be more balanced in the saddle.

In addition to stretching and strengthening muscles, exercise balls can help refine your sense of balance – an important aspect of riding. You can buy exercise balls inexpensively, but you may be happier with one bought through a sports therapist, that is sized for your length of leg.

So make a commitment to both yourself and your equine partner to get fit this season and enjoy reaping the benefits with better, safer horse riding! Happy riding everyone!

 

 

 


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