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Rider Fitness, And "Stickability"

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  • #21
    I notice that tense riders, or riders who are very focused on keeping their position are more likely to tumble off.

    I, however, maintain a sloppy posture at most times and manage to stay in the saddle in 99% of moments where it seems like I should go flying off. LOL Is this similar to being drunk vs. sober falling off a balcony?
    Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
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    • #22
      I'm sure that BH and other heavier riders like Buck Davidson are pretty fit, otherwise they couldn't make it around a Rolex course. Having said that... I'm sure it would be easier on their horses if they shed a few pounds!

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      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by ldaziens View Post
        I don't know the rider in question, so I can't comment on that.

        But, for your student...as a tall 5'11" female who is "top heavy" AND has put on extra weight. My riding as an adult beginner up in Northern Virginia improved dramatically with professional Pilates instruction - on a reformer - and an excellent Centered Riding instructor. I have mild scoliosis and am very uneven / unbalanced generally, so the Pilates work helped me get my core strong and my body even. I also started sitting on an exercise ball at work, and I did do weight watchers. But, I didn't change what I ate -- just tracking it and making sure I moved enough to make up for it. I do often think a large bust is just a major hindrance in riding and fitness and negatively affects posture.

        After moving to fattest state in the land, I am completely out of shape core and weight wise -- need to find a good pilates instructor & riding instructor down here and start over
        Naah I am in the fattest state in the Land, Michigan..
        IT is what finally made me go Paleo, and clean eating.
        But student is 40 ish, 5'4 and has not always been heavy.
        But in the last few years she has put on weight, and her riding with this more sensitive horse has really made it a struggle.
        I try in a nice constructive way to suggest core exercises, Even just walking, But not much has changed. I fear she may just give it up and it is a shame,
        She would rather I ride him. I can see the difference with him instantly when she gets on. he is sticky, and not straight. I get on him, she says, now why does he not go that way for me. ~Sigh~
        I suggested a beginner Pilates DVD that we could do together to start, but she has never taken me up on it.

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Originally posted by ridingagain View Post
          I'm sure that BH and other heavier riders like Buck Davidson are pretty fit, otherwise they couldn't make it around a Rolex course. Having said that... I'm sure it would be easier on their horses if they shed a few pounds!
          I knew I should not have brought that up, because I think she is an amazing rider, But the question from my friend, and the issue with my student got me to thinking. Becky can ride circles around the skinniest of us I am quite sure.
          I meant no disrespect. I was thinking of it as it relates to balance and influence on the horse.

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          • Original Poster

            #25
            camstock.. Yes
            For your student, she knows she is overweight. I would privately explain that she has the choice to either advance in her riding or not, and it is largely dependent on her commitment to her weight AND her riding. To some, advancement is not worth a lifestyle change, and that is an acceptable choice. I would have this conversation because I have found that some people do not see that the two things - improved fitness and improved performance - are related. Astounding, but true.

            Good luck
            That is the problem in a nutshell, I truthfully do not believe she thinks the two things are related.

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by deltawave View Post
              I don't know how tall Becky is, but she does not appear to be particularly long in the leg, regardless of her weight. Having a lot of leg to wrap around a horse IMO makes it a whole lot easier to "stick".

              It does appear to be a real struggle for many people, and my private observation is that we are, among many other things, PROFOUNDLY STUPID as a society in general when it comes to food choices. I count myself to some degree--I have a weakness for lots of things that are not particularly healthy in the food department! But I *know* what's bad and what isn't. I can't help but wonder, being a closet grocery store stalker who looks at what people are putting in their cart and simultaneously assessing their, umm, BCS, where on earth people get the idea that food choices don't matter?!

              Rant over. Back to my non-lunch of saltine crackers.
              OH MY , Me too~! I am appauled at what are in peoples carts!
              Not a speck of real food. I want to grab theri cart and say do you have any idea what you are doing to your poor body! I am obsessed now, so . lol

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by Sannois View Post
                IT is what finally made me go Paleo, and clean eating.
                But student is 40 ish, 5'4 and has not always been heavy.
                But in the last few years she has put on weight, and her riding with this more sensitive horse has really made it a struggle.
                I'm getting back on the wagon as far as my Paleo/LC diet goes, and I feel better and can fit back into my tall boots again (woot!). My favorite pair of breeches are next on the list.

                Perhaps now is a great time to introduce her to the benefits of Paleo/LCHF? She might also be on medication that's causing her weight to increase (happens more than people realize) and going LC might help to offset it.

                I wasn't familiar with BH until I saw her while watching the USEF coverage -- I think the first thought that popped up in my brain was "yay, us big(ger) gals have a hope!" I completely agree with the others here who said that she has to be fit in order to compete in a 4* -- how else could you and not drop dead from exhaustion half way through?

                Crap happens -- I'm just thankful she wasn't injured.

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                • #28
                  What a timely discussion both because I hold BH as an example of how it's not your size its your strength. If you're fat and strong you're going to be a better rider than if you're fat and weak. If you're skinny and strong you're going to be a better rider than if you're skinny and weak. I wonder if you need to be stronger if you are fatter simply as a matter of physics with regards to your reaction time and how much mass you have to control?

                  For me it's a matter of this: I put my horse in training to get fit and then I am not fit. That doesn't seem reasonable for optimizing our performance. It's like ballroom dancing with a partner who is weak. I took Fella to our first Western show last month and I know we lost time because he couldn't go in a straight line. Instead he wriggled like a fish trying to keep me on top of him because I couldn't control my own mass. Bless this horse!

                  So I'd say to the student that she needs to be stronger. Forget about the weight -that may or may not change, but the thing that needs to change is her strength.


                  ETA: I'm pretty sure he was able to buck me off galloping up the side of a hill last Fall because I was too week to respond to and control his exuberance. POP right over his left shoulder.
                  Paula
                  He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                    What a timely discussion both because I hold BH as an example of how it's not your size its your strength. If you're fat and strong you're going to be a better rider than if you're fat and weak. If you're skinny and strong you're going to be a better rider than if you're skinny and weak. I wonder if you need to be stronger if you are fatter simply as a matter of physics with regards to your reaction time and how much mass you have to control?

                    Paula
                    The simple physics are Force=Mass X Acceleration ( F=MA) Obviously as the mass becomes larger the force it generates as it accelerates becomes greater, and conversely the force required to counteract it becomes greater, i.e. greater core strength is needed.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Sannois View Post
                      Naah I am in the fattest state in the Land, Michigan..
                      IT is what finally made me go Paleo, and clean eating.
                      But student is 40 ish, 5'4 and has not always been heavy.
                      But in the last few years she has put on weight, and her riding with this more sensitive horse has really made it a struggle.
                      I try in a nice constructive way to suggest core exercises, Even just walking, But not much has changed. I fear she may just give it up and it is a shame,
                      She would rather I ride him. I can see the difference with him instantly when she gets on. he is sticky, and not straight. I get on him, she says, now why does he not go that way for me. ~Sigh~
                      I suggested a beginner Pilates DVD that we could do together to start, but she has never taken me up on it.
                      I think you have your answer there. That's not about weight at all, but about making herself a better rider - and she's not interested. Next time she complains about wanting her horse to go for her like he does for you, mention more saddle time, pilates and yoga. If she wants to ride better enough, she'll figure it out, and if she doesn't, you will have to figure out if you want to keep working with someone whose ambition to improve isn't strong enough to put in the work to do so. Weight is irrelevant in that conversation.

                      Originally posted by riderboy View Post
                      The simple physics are Force=Mass X Acceleration ( F=MA) Obviously as the mass becomes larger the force it generates as it accelerates becomes greater, and conversely the force required to counteract it becomes greater, i.e. greater core strength is needed.
                      Yep!
                      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                      -meupatdoes

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                      • #31
                        Originally posted by ridingagain View Post
                        I'm sure that BH and other heavier riders like Buck Davidson are pretty fit, otherwise they couldn't make it around a Rolex course. Having said that... I'm sure it would be easier on their horses if they shed a few pounds!
                        I have noticed that Buck is a bit leaner these days than he used to be-- and I do think he is riding better, as a result (particularly on the flat, for him). Comparatively, Becky has always been strong in dressage, on Comet and Teddy. The difference on xc could be that Buck, being male, has comparatively more upper body strength, and muscle to support his short/stocky frame.

                        I think it's great to realize that many different body types can be successful in our sport. But I do think it's worth noting-- even if not PC-- that being large *does* make it more difficult, and it should not be an excuse to make ourselves as healthy and fit as possible. "But BH is not stick-thin!" should not be used as an excuse...we all owe our horses to be the best riders we can.

                        I'm fairly average build, and by no means overweight; but when I pick up an extra 5-7lbs in the winter off-season (which I realize is not a lot), I feel like a total slob on a horse! I feel a huge difference when I'm at my "fighting weight" with better fitness; I'm more coordinated, more secure, and can react instantly as needed.

                        No one needs to slam BH on her weight, nor have they here; she's certainly aware of her body and her challenges. No one is being critical of her, and everyone appreciates the level of fitness she possesses. I enjoy watching her ride, and she's certainly one of the US's best. But it is important to acknowledge that weight does play a part in how we ride, and how we influence the horses beneath us.
                        “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                        ? Albert Einstein

                        ~AJ~

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                        • Original Poster

                          #32
                          Originally posted by VaqueroToro View Post
                          I'm getting back on the wagon as far as my Paleo/LC diet goes, and I feel better and can fit back into my tall boots again (woot!). My favorite pair of breeches are next on the list.

                          Perhaps now is a great time to introduce her to the benefits of Paleo/LCHF? She might also be on medication that's causing her weight to increase (happens more than people realize) and going LC might help to offset it.

                          I wasn't familiar with BH until I saw her while watching the USEF coverage -- I think the first thought that popped up in my brain was "yay, us big(ger) gals have a hope!" I completely agree with the others here who said that she has to be fit in order to compete in a 4* -- how else could you and not drop dead from exhaustion half way through?

                          Crap happens -- I'm just thankful she wasn't injured.
                          Yes the boots fitting better is a biggie.
                          I know she has a sedentary office job, and does not work out at all.
                          I know she is a big bread eater. I will tell her, but I know she will say it is not for her. Just from past experience.
                          I fear she may be giving up. We have a meeting Thursday for her to discuss her riding plans with me. Her call.
                          The first time I saw BH ride It was many years ago, and she was awesome
                          I too was like SEE bigger can do Advanced and 4 star and be awesome.
                          I can only hope in my wildest dreams to lay down a Dressage test like she did last week.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Weight, food choices, and fitness are all complicated issues that don't have one-size-fits-all solutions.

                            So, some food for thought: Dr. Tim Noakes on diet

                            Dr. Noakes (you can look up his hundreds of papers on PubMed) is one of the world's pre-eminent sport scientists. He has made a career out of challenging accepted wisdom -- see his work on hydration or thermoregulation -- and in recent years, he's turned his attention to diet. This article is an interesting overview of how he's adapted his diet to hopefully avoid the family history of dying from diabetes.

                            (My SO has a similar family history (although not so severe) and has been dealing with carbohydrate/glycemic issues, which are not always/often solved in the obvious stop-eating-sugar manner.)

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                              I think it makes a huge difference...being toned as opposed to having extra fat on every inch of your body. Even an inch on your thighs and some around your waist will make it more difficult for you to ride. That doesn't mean that skinny people are fit either. The more core strength you have, the better off you will be.
                              I totally agree with this.
                              Those saying WFP has a heavy top because he's so tall are wrong imho... he is surprisingly light for one so very tall, and don't forget how long his legs are! He's a true ectomorph. He's perfectly balanced, has great core strength etc, but he's definitely not heavy on the top half. Stats: http://www.teamgb.com/athletes/william-fox-pitt
                              When he was doing Luhmuhlen last year 1 of the German commentators described him as "ein Power-Tower", because of the way he uses his tall upper half to balance the horse and doesn't need to go to the hand. Fascinating. Amazing that he never stoops either when talking to people much shorter than him, as most tall people do.
                              Btw, does anyone else remember how much weight the already-skinny Toddy lost to ride Charisma at the second Olympics when he won gold?

                              I haven't seen Becky's fall, so can't comment. Maybe nobody could have stayed on it, even 'Mr Stickability' himself. I know she is an absolutely awesome horsewoman, I just can't help but wonder how much better she possibly might be...

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by kerilli View Post
                                I totally agree with this.
                                Those saying WFP has a heavy top because he's so tall are wrong imho... he is surprisingly light for one so very tall, and don't forget how long his legs are! He's a true ectomorph. He's perfectly balanced, has great core strength etc, but he's definitely not heavy on the top half. Stats: http://www.teamgb.com/athletes/william-fox-pitt
                                When he was doing Luhmuhlen last year 1 of the German commentators described him as "ein Power-Tower", because of the way he uses his tall upper half to balance the horse and doesn't need to go to the hand. Fascinating. Amazing that he never stoops either when talking to people much shorter than him, as most tall people do.
                                It's not that he's "heavy up top" - he's thin all the way up and down. But with that long a lever arm (physics term) he exerts more force for the same weight - his center of gravity is farther from the saddle, and therefore harder to balance. Wikipedia gives an ok explanation of how distance comes into play which is clearer than a more detailed and correct physics explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torque

                                The fact it's hard to balance that long a body is the same reason that long body works well to balance his horse.
                                If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                -meupatdoes

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                                • #36
                                  i actually just read a new study (of course where i'm not sure-- jama, medscape daily email blast maybe?) that discussed cardiovascular fitness in overweight individuals and that even people with an elevated BMI were found to be more fit than previously thought.

                                  I doubt her fall was therein related because she can ride the pants off of all of us here. Unless you have innate balance problems (like a vestibular or other neurological disorder) you can typically balance well in your own body habitus, especially if you have been doing a particular activity at an elite level-- whether in a saddle or out.

                                  as someone whose own mass is above my knees and below my waist genetics is part of your body shape & size. gotta look at the family-- like in horses-- to see if the one specimen is normal for that family or an aberration. my dad's side of the family all has junk in the trunk- some big, some small, but its centered there. people & riders may weigh less or more but their body shape doesn't change all that much.
                                  And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."

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                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                                    Ugh. Touchy subject. BH is a very good rider, but I always feel a little bad for her because I think she struggles a lot with her weight....it seems to fluxuate A LOT from year to year, and I have to think, especially as a high performance athlete, that has to be frustrating. My gut says she's probably seriously fit in most senses.

                                    I think you have to be QUITE fit to get that job done well. You have to gallop for 12 minutes, jumping big jumps, and you need to have your wits about you so you can't be tired. There is a level of cardio strength and fitness you need, but also a level of core strength (I mean, I only have ridden at prelim thus far, but I KNOW when my core is lacking to gallop 5-6 minutes straight).

                                    But, by fit I don't necessarily mean stick thin (in fact, I tend to think having some meat on you and muscles helps you maintain and last better than if you're a waif). But I do think you need to be fit and strong.

                                    I haven't seen BH's fall, so I really can't safely give ANY commentary on what might have happened. My guess is she's probably a beast (strong and fit), and it was an unfortunate fall....could it have been prevented had she been carrying less weight???? Really no way of knowing.
                                    I would have to agree with this. The whole time I watch the riders at this level go XC, I keep thinking... "Gosh, they must be SO fit!" I really don't know if I could do that, to be honest. I usually find myself somewhat out of breath after a lower level XC course! Twelve minutes of galloping and jumping massive obstacles would be incredibly strenuous and exhausting. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain loony.

                                    And I also have to agree that it's hard to judge someone's fitness by looking at them. There are so many different body types out there and everyone carries their weight differently. Regardless of how they look... whether they're WFP level of skinny or a little heavier, these riders have to be mega-fit to do this. Period.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by dappled View Post
                                      Regardless of how they look... whether they're WFP level of skinny or a little heavier, these riders have to be mega-fit to do this. Period.
                                      Not true. Getting around Rolex, or even trying and failing to get around Rolex, does not mean you are 'mega-fit'. Some of the riders on display did not look very fit at all.

                                      Most of the riders are 'riding fit', in that they can ride a number of horses per day, but there was a distressing number of riders who couldn't/didn't hold a strong, balanced gallop/jump position around the course.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I can't speak to BH, I can only speak as to my own experience. I know when I am fluffy, I am not fit. The two things are not compatible for me.

                                        JER- interesting article about diet. It is amazing how different we all are. I do best with a high carb/ low fat/ lots of veggies diet. I feel disgusting if I eat too much fat/meat/dairy. And I get severe digestive issues from Atkins style diet LOL.

                                        I realize what I need to do to be where I want to be with fitness and weight is I need to exercise much more than I want too. I also need to be serious about staying away from dairy and take out!!!

                                        I lost 50 lbs 3 years ago by exercising, salad and insoluble fiber. I have gained some of it back do to stress eating ice cream and not enough exercise. I am working on the exercise and I have gotten serious again about not eating crappy food. I really like the gym I joined, but I'm having to nurse my bad knee a lot more than I anticipated.
                                        Unrepentant carb eater

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                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          Originally posted by JER View Post
                                          Not true. Getting around Rolex, or even trying and failing to get around Rolex, does not mean you are 'mega-fit'. Some of the riders on display did not look very fit at all.

                                          Most of the riders are 'riding fit', in that they can ride a number of horses per day, but there was a distressing number of riders who couldn't/didn't hold a strong, balanced gallop/jump position around the course.
                                          Interesting, I have gone back and viewed some of the Clips that USEF has and There are several riders that at the end, really look exhausted. One I cannot recall his name, Was bent over for quite sometime after dismounting trying to catch his breath.

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