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Rider Fitness - how to do I get some?

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  • Rider Fitness - how to do I get some?

    Ok so I have a clinic coming up in the end of November and I just gave myself and my mare a good challenging ride last night, and while we did the exercise perfectly, it became painfully aware that we are not fit. She is young so I don't expect peak fitness, but her galloping fitness, hill and hacking work is excellent (we fox hunt first field) but our ring fitness is lacking. She is also lazy by nature so when she gets tired, she just stops trying. My approach has been mostly short and sweet, since she is young, but I need to start building her fitness, and more importantly my own cause I was in a lather before she really broke a sweat :S

    I did start feeding her, and up until last night she wasn't getting grain, so hoping this helps jazz her up a bit.

    I ride anywhere from two to four days a week, and ride one-three horses as well as teaching a small lesson program that has me running around, jogging w kids, hiking around the back 'XC' field etc but I need to step it up. So...

    What is your best off-the-horse fitness routine for building strength in the lower leg and for general strength? I can hold a gallop seat for hours in the hunt field, but holding a full seat and squeezing my horse forward is hard!

    And what is your best on-the-horse fitness ideas? I need to build up her strength at holding herself in a more balanced, compact outline, and improve my ability to ride her in a more balanced, compact outline without huffing and puffing like a geriatric dragon.

  • #2
    eBay? I hate exercise....
    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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    • #3
      Hillwork. Both on and off the horse. If you have time, walking or jogging uphill is *awful* but it really builds muscle in the leg. Same thing for the horse, it builds a nice topline as well as strength and endurance.

      I used to do a lot of excercises with a pilates ball (or a medicine ball? Not the weighted one, the squishy one) hold it between your legs and sueeze.

      Bareback work is also great for your seat and legs, you aren't up in 2 point so you're using the muscles you would if you were in a full seat in your saddle.

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      • #4
        I hate to say it, because I hate to do it... But no stirrups, at the trot, sitting and big posting. Hurts, but works

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        • #5
          Sounds like both of you need core strength. If you're hunting first field, at least as I've experienced, then you both are generally fit. For you: Pilates, the Success in the Saddle DVD series, core-focused strength training, and/or lessons with a dressage instructor who will give you "Pilates in the saddle" type of instruction. For your horse: dressage work. Slow work on hills is great, keeping her connected, back lifted and hind end active.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
            eBay? I hate exercise....
            Seriously need a LIKE button!
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            • Original Poster

              #7
              How do we feel about the big exercise balls? I have one in the closet but I work infront of a computer a lot and could take it to work and sit on it while I work. I think my desk is an ok height. Do you think they actually help build core strength?

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              • #8
                Check out my book, the Rider's Fitness Program.
                co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

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                • #9
                  Sent you a p.m.
                  Intermediate Riding Skills

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by talkofthetown View Post
                    Hillwork. Both on and off the horse. If you have time, walking or jogging uphill is *awful* but it really builds muscle in the leg. Same thing for the horse, it builds a nice topline as well as strength and endurance.
                    Hill workouts are the best! (Well, the worst ). Sprint up and jog down, repeat x 4-8. If you don't feel like you want to throw up by the time you are done, you didn't push yourself hard enough.

                    If you don't have any good hills nearby, you can get the same effect with a track workout at the local high school. Sprint an 800m, rest 1 minute, repeat. 4-8 reps.

                    I only do a hill/ track workout once a week, and I seriously have to mentally prepare for several days in advance .

                    Pilates, push-ups, and regular ol' going out and running X miles are good too.
                    ~Living the life I imagined~

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                    • #11
                      Best off horse exercise: cycling, walking or running.

                      I hate cycling with a passion but my god, what a difference it makes to my horse riding fitness. I also hate running (sense a pattern here??) but I do a lot of halter classes and need to keep up with my girl when I run her out.

                      I get up at stupid o'clock to get on my exercycle before work - don't have time after work. And I like to get it over and done with

                      Horse exercise: I used to lunge before work for extra fitness. I'd mix it up - lunge over fences, lunge with a chambon on, lunge on the side of a hill.
                      Last edited by KyrieNZ; Oct. 20, 2012, 02:39 AM. Reason: Added more...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Corky View Post
                        How do we feel about the big exercise balls? I have one in the closet but I work infront of a computer a lot and could take it to work and sit on it while I work. I think my desk is an ok height. Do you think they actually help build core strength?
                        Try it for a day and see if you don't feel it by the time you go home You can also do rolls side to side, front to back, little circles, etc to work your core even more- you have to balance, as well as work to move the ball around.

                        *This works IF you have good posture! It takes work to sit on it all day and balance and have a nice straight back, firmly planted feet....not so much if you're just slouching and rolling around lol

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                        • #13
                          I asked this question too in another section and it was kind of Dead-End. Glad to see some better posts here!
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                          • #14
                            For leg strength, you can do "wall sits" and see how long you can hold them. You "sit" against the wall like you are sitting in a chair, then just hold for as long as you can stand. Rinse, repeat. For core strength, there is a Pilates for Riders DVD by Janice Dulak (she also has a book). She has some exercises that are mounted too.

                            For aerobic fitness, running and biking are good.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Corky View Post
                              How do we feel about the big exercise balls?
                              Actually, they mega-work. My PT ground through all my tooth-gritting hate and made me buy one to rehab my back. I still hate the damn thing. I have to admit doing simply 3 sets of situps on it every night, all of about 5 minutes, made a HUGE difference in my core strength and back felt great.

                              I need to get back to that.

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                              • #16
                                I started Success In the Saddle last Jan and I do it daily and it has made a tremendous difference in my fitness, strength, stability and flexibility and an added bonus ... confidence. I work out religiously every morning because it has made such a difference in my day to day life. 20 minutes a day, no equipment no excuses

                                Jackie

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by talkofthetown View Post
                                  Try it for a day and see if you don't feel it by the time you go home You can also do rolls side to side, front to back, little circles, etc to work your core even more- you have to balance, as well as work to move the ball around.

                                  *This works IF you have good posture! It takes work to sit on it all day and balance and have a nice straight back, firmly planted feet....not so much if you're just slouching and rolling around lol
                                  As I was typing this I pulled out the ball and sat on it at the kitchen table and played on my laptop for a bit. I worked on posture but also hiked my knees up so my feet were off the ground and I was sitting like I would in the saddle, with a short stirrup, heels down, and squeezed my calves without pinching my knees or thighs, and did some reps like that...holey cow thats hard! I'm going to keep doing that a few times a day whenever I can.

                                  When you say feet flat on the ground, do you mean while straddling the ball like a horse, or when sitting, flat bum, knees together and feet infront like a bench? My hips were starting to feel sore after about an hour sitting straddling it, so I thought taking it to the office might be too much and wasn't sure if sitting on it likea bench was any help at all :?

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by JFS View Post
                                    I started Success In the Saddle
                                    Jackie
                                    Whats this?

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Corky View Post
                                      As I was typing this I pulled out the ball and sat on it at the kitchen table and played on my laptop for a bit. I worked on posture but also hiked my knees up so my feet were off the ground and I was sitting like I would in the saddle, with a short stirrup, heels down, and squeezed my calves without pinching my knees or thighs, and did some reps like that...holey cow thats hard! I'm going to keep doing that a few times a day whenever I can.

                                      When you say feet flat on the ground, do you mean while straddling the ball like a horse, or when sitting, flat bum, knees together and feet infront like a bench? My hips were starting to feel sore after about an hour sitting straddling it, so I thought taking it to the office might be too much and wasn't sure if sitting on it like a bench was any help at all :?
                                      Yay great job!! I just meant flat feet as opposed to sticking your legs out in front of you...I initally thought feet at your sides, but I'm not sure about the chair seat position. I feel like if you try it and feel it working your abs, then it's working. Just make sure it doesn't give you bad position habits in the saddle

                                      Glad to hear it's working, keep it up!

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Corky View Post
                                        I can hold a gallop seat for hours in the hunt field, but holding a full seat and squeezing my horse forward is hard!
                                        Um, I know it's not the point of the thread, but maybe you are doing too much work trying to keep her forward while in the arena? I did this for years, exhausting myself by opposing my own muscles through tension (and I'm not nearly as fit as you!) until I finally figured out that the horse needs to move enthusiastically forward without me "squeezing" or continuously pushing it to move.

                                        Your "lazy" mare sounds like she really needs to understand it's HER job to be forward, not yours. Anywhere, anytime. You say forward, she goes. Until you say stop.

                                        I guess your description of her galloping, hillwork and hunting fitness vs "arena fitness" doesn't really make sense to me. Physically, if she can do it hunting, she can do it in the arena, at least at the level she's at. It shouldn't be so MUCH more work for you there.

                                        Could it be that inside the arena, you are actually pushing her forward with leg at the same time you're holding her back with hand, trying to create this "balanced, compact outline?" This is going to create tension for both of you. It's certainly going to make her get lazy and unmotivated.

                                        Just something to think about. I wish I were as fit as you! Maybe because I'm such a lazy bum myself, I don't think first that it's fitness or tiredness in myself or my horse, but rather an issue of HIM volunteering more work than ME!
                                        Ring the bells that still can ring
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