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Rider Fitness

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  • Rider Fitness

    I've been out the saddle the last two weeks due to a non-horsey injury. My current horse has a good amount of power in the trot and canter, so my muscles aren't as strong to hold not only myself in the correct position, but I tend to want to go into a two point in the canter, to avoid having to work. Other than just getting more ride time, are there any other exercises/workouts that are recommended? I'm an avid gym member (I go everyday before and after the barn) so I would love to work on the muscles that would definitely benefit me in the saddle too.

  • #2
    Squats are the best exercises for riding. You can add different elements to them for even more results. You can do them on a BoSu or stability discs and work the small muscle fibers involved in balance. You can do bicep curls and/or shoulder lifts or any other exercise that works your arms. You can squat into a jump - squat and as you come up, jump as high as you can - much harder than it sounds. Besides the basic squat, there are also plie squats.

    Then add ab exercises. I like bicycle crunches, leg thrusts, clams, and the dreaded plank and side plank. I don't think regular crunches do all that much versus the other exercises.

    I hope that helps.


    • #3
      Disclosure: If you are consciously having to use muscles to 'hold the correct position' you are not in correct balance for dressage work. Dressage is ridden with your bone, hence why men who have been doing it for 50 years can hop up there at 70 and show us all up.

      All that said, you do need to be FIT for your body to crave proper balance and be able to maintain it without you telling it to do so. Once of the biggest struggles dressage riders go through is developing the psoas muscle to be both strong and LONG. Pilates will make it strong, but contract it, so without tons of stretching it makes for dressage riders in a hunter perch. I love plank for abs personally. hold that position with controlled breathing for 60+ seconds and you'll know where your abs are. Because you are keeping the torso long while you endure the pain, there's less risk of contracting the abs up.

      If you are working out twice a day, you probably need stretching more than anything. Sign up for yoga and you'll be able to follow those big gaits
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • #4
        Especially for an avid gym person. http://www.amazon.com/Riders-Fitness...7365240&sr=8-1

        I love this book, and you can look inside it on amazon (click on the ''search inside the book'' link. I own the book too and can say its awesome. You just look through the index on the issues in your riding you want to improve on and it tells you which exercies you can do. A lot of the exercises call for machines, thats why some people dont like it, but seeing that you are gymer than i think you'd really like it. It even has a 6 week plan that you can follow straight through or you can just work on whatever random or individual workouts that you want. If you get it and use it let me know how you like it. I tend to do some yoga in between because I feel like its a sister sport to dressage riding. It is relaxing yet evens out your body to make you more correct, stronger, and balanced in the saddle.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks everyone, everything posted definitely helped!

          Petstorejunkie - I honestly did not even think about looking into yoga to help me with dressage. The more I think about it, the more I realize I am not has relaxed in my body as I can be, to help absorb my horse's motion, nor do I do any real stretches to help loosen my body before I ride.

          XCpony - THANKS! I plan on ordering the book when I get off work in a bit. That is exactly what I was looking for too!! I enjoy working out at the gym, so I'm just a tad bit excited to get this in the mail and put together a new workout routine.


          • #6
            I am in the opposite boat. I have contiued riding but not gone to the gym for about two weeks due to serious time crunch.

            I have noticed a huge difference with even two weeks off, especially since my butt has been glued to a chair for two weeks and I have not even really stretching.

            My core is getting weak already and my riding has started to backslide. I am really surprised at how quickly I am losing it!


            • #7
              Do you have access to a pool? Swimming is great in the summer for core, balance, and heart rate improvement.

              It's also great for joints that aren't what they used to be; and the long strokes makes stretching a naturally added bonus.

              There are great YouTubes of both beginner Yoga and TaiChi that you can do in the water to add resistance. I love both Yoga and TaiChi.


              • Original Poster

                SanJac - I don't personally have a pool but know a friend or two that has one, so I'll definitely ask them! Its extremely hot in Maryland these days, so that's just an extra bonus then Thanks!!


                • #9
                  Well, just thought I'd ask. The larger gyms have pools down here.

                  Squats with dumb bells or medicine ball would help improve the canter seat.

                  And another exercise is while mounted at a walk - extend your foot outward and make circles or figure 8s. It's a killer but you can't duplicate it in the gym.


                  • Original Poster

                    I go to a well-known gym and the locations my membership allows me to visit, don't have gyms, but the smaller gyms I've visited to :/

                    Thanks for the tips! Going to try them out when the weather is decent to ride in.


                    • #11
                      so even though I just started it four weeks ago...I gotta throw Crossfit in there are a recommendation. I didn't realize how much of a difference it was making already until my lesson yesterday, when my horse decided to throw in some completely unanticipated refusals. I started CF to begin with because her refusals previously unseated me, and would send me tumbling over her shoulder. But yesterday, I wasn't going anywhere! I was pretty surprised.

                      I feel like the philosophy behind CF fits well with riding (or any sport or just life, really) because your strengthening your body while in motion. It makes for very functional fitness and health.

                      If you look on their main website and check to see if you have a local affiliate, I really recommend it.


                      • #12
                        I was intrigued by crossfit and went to the website, but it's really hard to navigate. I found a list of seminars, but couldn't find affiliates. Was I looking in the wrong place?

                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                        • #13
                          no, there is the main Crossfit site, and there should be the ability to look for the affiliates. Or just type in Crossfit "locationX" into Google and it should pull up any that are nearby.

                          I hope you have one near you! Its also a great alternative if you hate going to typical gyms, or get bored doing hours of cardio. I know I put off working out for so long because it bored the crap out of me, after doing group fitness for so many years. Crossfit is short and sweet, but extremely effective. Its amazing how quickly it forces your body to adapt. And if you ever played team sports growing up, I think you'll find the format and atmosphere very similar and familiar.

                          Here you go:

                          on the left there are links to all the states.


                          • #14
                            I liked the video, but unfortunately there isn't an affiliate near me.

                            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                            • #15
                              Petstorejunkie, how, exactly, does Pilates make the psoas muscles short? Could you elaborate please? Thanks.
                              Laurie Higgins
                              "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."


                              • #16
                                Laurie Higgins
                                "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."


                                • #17
                                  I also vote for Crossfit! I started it in February and it has done more for my riding than any other physical activity, by far.


                                  • #18
                                    I had been doing Crossfit for about a year now...and just left the program. It was starting to make my hips and psoas muscles extremely tight and painful. My riding was taking a major backslide...so much so, that I have been having issues even doing a posting trot. I've been away from Crossfit for about 2 weeks...doing a lot of Tai Chi stretches, and I'm slowly getting the flexibility back. I think it's a good program overall especially for cardio fitness...just watch the weight that is being placed on you...I have a feeling that I was ramped up too fast.

                                    I'm also checking out The Rider's Fitness book. That looks awesome.
                                    Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
                                    CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Blkarab View Post
                                      I think it's a good program overall especially for cardio fitness...just watch the weight that is being placed on you...I have a feeling that I was ramped up too fast.
                                      Absolutely! You have to scale the weights to your abilities or you will hurt yourself, and no one knows your body better than you. I'm still working on my form on many of the lifts, so am still doing pretty light weights. I'm sorry you didn't have the best experience with it.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Twiliath View Post
                                        Petstorejunkie, how, exactly, does Pilates make the psoas muscles short? Could you elaborate please? Thanks.
                                        I wish I had the full explanation for it, but I'm relaying information I was given without alot of elaboration. I learned this from a BNT who specializes in body work for people.
                                        chaque pas est fait ensemble