5 Tips to Improve Rider Fitness

by Alexa Gohn

Whether you've been riding for several decades or a few months, you know that riders don't "just sit there." Horse riding, no matter the discipline, requires fitness, strength and balance to effectively cue and communicate with your mount.

How to Develop Better Equestrian Fitness

Whether you ride for fun or show every weekend, improving your rider fitness will provide you with benefits ranging from better posture to increased confidence. Here are five ways to help get you started.

1. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch

When your muscles are short and tight, it is more difficult for you to move with your horse. Equestrians who are stiff in the saddle will also likely transfer tension to the horse, who will then find it difficult to move forward and engage properly. Muscle tightness and tension also affect rider posture.

To make their muscles supple and develop more flexibility, equestrians can incorporate yoga and Pilates sessions into their daily pre- or post-ride routines. 

When stretching, key areas riders should focus on include:

  • Ankles
  • Hamstrings
  • Heels
  • Hip flexors
  • Lower back

2. Exercise to Increase Strength

As an equestrian, you can't just focus on increasing your horse's strength — it's also important to strengthen your own muscles to help keep you stable and secure in the saddle. 

Because you'll need strong glutes, hamstrings and quads for everything from cross country to reining, try incorporating some weighted squats and lunges into your workout routine. To increase back and arm strength, you can do exercises like pushups, barbell rows and dumbbell curls. 

Along with building leg, back and arm muscles, equestrians — especially dressage riders — also need to focus on building a strong core, which can be done with exercises like abdominal crunches and planks.

3. Get Your Cardio In

Because riding can be an intense sport, it's important to incorporate some cardio along with strength training. Exercises like running, biking or swimming will help improve the aerobic aspect of your rider total body fitness. 

Regular cardio offers countless benefits, ranging from improved heart rate to enhanced lung capacity. You'll be more fit and able to breathe strongly and deeply when in the saddle, helping to reduce any tension and stiffness.

4. Keep Your Diet Clean

If you are like most equestrians, you probably meticulously balance and supplement your horse's diet — without giving as much thought to your own. Paying attention to your diet will help you stay as healthy and fit as your horse.

With the right nutrition, you'll feel better and be more energized, helping you power through training sessions and tackle barn chores. You'll also find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, making rides more comfortable for you and your horse.

5. Get Some Mental Coaching

While horseback riding is a physical sport, there is also a mental aspect involved in training and competing. Getting mental coaching can help you learn how to set SMART goals and create strategies to improve your confidence and succeed.

You'll find that both at home and in the show ring, mental fitness will make you much better equipped to handle setbacks, develop good habits and perform to the best of your abilities.

Keep on Learning and Loving the Ride With Horse Tack Co. 

To continue improving and learning more about horseback riding, keep reading the articles in our blog! Be sure to also check out our broad product selection to find English and Western apparel, tack and accessories. 

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