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Fitness for dressage?

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  • Fitness for dressage?

    What I'm looking for is suggestions on new exercises or training programs that you've found helpful in your dressage riding. I already plan to double down on my core strength exercises, but would love some new ones. And I'm going to try adding some speed work to my running workouts. Just looking for some additional suggestions to step up my workouts on the ground to help my riding.

    So...what's worked for you?
    Last edited by eponacelt; Dec. 17, 2012, 05:50 AM.
    Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

  • #2
    More riding time is the one thing that had the most impact for me. Everything else, yoga/pilates cardio training helped, but I didn't see a big difference until I just started riding more.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by atlatl View Post
      More riding time is the one thing that had the most impact for me. Everything else, yoga/pilates cardio training helped, but I didn't see a big difference until I just started riding more.
      Sadly, that's the one thing I really can't do. I have another horse, but he's been laid up for the better part of a year. And with my own farm to care for, riding at the farms of others is difficult from a time perspective.

      Thanks though! After I posted this, I realized that I should have said more riding just isn't in the cards right now!
      Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

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      • #4
        Riding seems to use muscles in a way that no exercise reproduces.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

        Comment


        • #5
          Is it possible that your horse is the problem and not your fitness level???

          Reading your post, I thought the horse needs to be trained to be more sensitive, more reactive, I don't think a properly trained horse should need to be pushed every stride.

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          • #6
            Honestly, I don't know how often you are working with a trainer, but I would look at what you are doing with yourself/your riding. I can only surmise that the difference in how this horse goes vs a tb/arab is making you work entirely too hard and not effectively.

            Someone with your stated level of exercise/fitness should not be in that amount of pain/cardio stress after each ride. I'm not close to your level of fitness and have a horse that is a bear to ride/sit and while very occasionally my back is trashed after I ride, I'm not out of breath after about 60 seconds once I stop.

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            • #7
              What works for me? Pole and aerial fitness.

              This is what part of my pole strengthening drills look like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd43sLpO6bA

              The ball-up exercises she does I also do as a pike lift, ball up/pike down, straddle up/straddle down, pike up/straddle down, and scissor. It is FAR more important to do this with control than it is to get height. Any straddle and scissor work improves hip flexors.

              I usually repeat the ball-type exercises on the silks as well (although mostly with the silks split- one in each hand). As quick look at advanced aerial conditioning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bedy5GzttPw

              With silks, also: Knot the bottom of the silks about a foot off the ground (have an aerial instructor show you the proper way to knot the silks). Put your feet through the silks so your ankles are resting on the knot and go into pushup position. From there, bring your knees to your chest and back out. Also, hold a plank, and then tic tock your hips from side to side in the plank. Draw circles with your hips from this position as well.

              I still struggle with that level of conditioning in the aerial video, lol. Thanks to pole and aerial, I have a pretty strong upper body, core, and thigh. It's also pulled a little over 60 lbs off my body in a matter of 7 months (and I've got a TON of additional muscle as well).
              Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

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              • #8
                yikes if your cardio and core is good no reason you should have to try and do some other workout to keep up with your riding. Even the largest horses can only tug back and forth if the rider joins n

                Your leg should be a request and then a follow up with good hello if not enough reaction but if you are leg, leg, leg, leg, and heavy in the hands after I think the training has to be evaluated because you shouldnt feel like you are the one doing all of the work... Some but not alone! lol
                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by MyssMyst View Post
                  What works for me? Pole and aerial fitness.

                  This is what part of my pole strengthening drills look like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd43sLpO6bA
                  THAT is awesome. Seriously.

                  As for the rest of you who've given me advice on my horse, thanks, but thats not what I asked. I work with a trainer regularly, and yes, we need to work on some things. And are. But the fact is, he's never going to be as hot and forward as my other horses, and will always require a little more strength.

                  And let's face it, who among us couldn't use a little more fitness in our riding, regardless of what kind of horse we have.

                  If anyone has any more awesome workout suggestions, please send them on!
                  Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've found that pull-ups help strengthen specific back & shoulder muscles that I use when riding. The same muscles that help me keep my shoulders back & down on a big mover. I've done other strength training in the past but I've found that pull-ups in particular have helped. And, of course, planks & any other abs exercise you can dream up.
                    "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have found yoga and pilates helped me a great deal, not so much on strength or fitness, but on MY straightness and being mindful of my body.

                      Which just reminds me that I have to get back into one or both!
                      Amanda

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I really like the Success in the Saddle DVDs. There are 6 20-minute workouts. 20 minutes makes it doable on a regular basis.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I also use Pilates for core strengthening and flexibility. I live on a ranch, so my cardio is built in to my daily routine.

                          I disagree that the only fitness you can get is "in saddle" - in fact, all the top riders who talk about fitness will tell you they have a pretty strenuous "out of saddle" fitness routine.

                          One warning - if you are not very flexible, be careful with some strength training (such as weights) because it will make you even tighter! Be sure to combine with flexibilty work.

                          ANd if you are out of breath after riding, then you need cardio work, which is different from strengthening and flexibility.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I go to a core class twice a week. We use the big stability ball as well as free weights. We also do quite a bit of body-weight exercises. I feel like its a combined cardio-strength training class since there aren't a lot of breaks and I usually come out of there exhausted but feeling like I accomplished something. Its done wonders for my riding. I have the strength and endurance needed for a 45-minute or hour-long riding session.

                            Just thinking about the exercises we do in class, I can come up with a few that helped me the most. Push-ups with your legs on top of the ball work the upper back and shoulders. Various versions of crunches while sitting on the ball, especially alternating left and right. Anything that involves holding the ball between your feet will work your hip flexors. Feel free to ask me for more suggestions if you want.
                            My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss

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                            • #15
                              Yoga, pilates and a kettlebell workout. I LOVE the kettlebell because it's a full body workout, focusing on core, butt and thighs.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I agree with those that love pilates. I used to do pilates 3-4 days a week and walk on the treadmill (w/ a steep incline and a pretty quick pace, so it isn't easy, trust me ) 2-3 days a week, but in the past couple of months I'd upped the cardio and decreased the pilates and could really tell the difference in a bad way. Now i've upped the pilates again and can really tell how much tighter my core is and I sit up a lot straighter and have had much better rides since. PM me if you want some suggestions for pilates vids
                                Follow my instagram @snafflesandwellies for all things horses + fashion!

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