Are you ‘Horse Fit’?

We’re into the final season of the year and now’s a great time to re-evaluate your training and how your results have matched up to any goals you may have set yourself earlier in the year.

If they’ve fallen somewhat short, it can be all too easy to blame our horses. But often we really should lay some of the blame at our own feet… Afterall, we may have dedicated much time to getting our horses fit, spent hours schooling and training them in our chosen discipline, but were we ourselves really up to the job?

Most horse riders assume that by riding we get fit. And while it definitely does improve our basic level of fitness, riding alone will not get you fit enough to perform to the best of your ability (unless you’re lucky enough to be riding 8 or 10 horses a day of course!)

Why do we as riders need to train?

Think about how you train your horse – you do your flat work, you work on their discipline, you focus on their flexibility, you provide them with the diet of an athlete, you school frequently over different courses and more and more!

You take a holistic approach to make sure you get your horse to his or her best.

However, our own training regimes usually fall far, far short, if they ever get off the ground at all!

In this series of articles, our rider fitness expert Aislinn McKenna drives us to consider how we can apply the same efforts to us as riders, for the benefits of our performance and our results.

Fitness – How do you catch up with your horse?

One word – specialise.

A racehorse isn’t practicing pirouettes.

A showjumper isn’t performing 2 furlong hill sprints.

Find out what you expect of your body ………and plan for it.

Ask yourself!

To help to tailor your fitness plans to your equestrian goals consider the following:

  • What does my equestrian disciple ask of me physically?
    For example a dressage rider needs to use quite a bit of strength to control every movement they make, where an eventer needs to be able to cope with sudden shifts in balance when riding a cross country. In both examples the rider is predominately using leg and core muscles, but differently. The dressage rider is holding their muscles (isometric exercise) where the eventer is constantly flexing their muscles (isotonic exercise)
  • What do I feel I need to do to improve my riding?
  • What does my trainer tell me I need to work on?
  • What lets me down first when I am riding (eg are you out of breath, do you feel weakness or fatigue, or perhaps you’ve a recurring injury)?

In the next article Aislinn will look at some ways to implement a strategy to address your answers to these questions.

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