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Why don't we treat riding more like a sport?

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  • Why don't we treat riding more like a sport?

    I was just wondering this the other day as I was struggling to finish a 3 mile training run. I'm training for my 2nd half marathon but I am in no way a "runner"...I'm just starting my training again after approximately 9 months of drinking, eating, and sitting on my behind . At this point I am really not in shape at all.

    I got to thinking...how is it fair of me to expect my horse to be in top physical condition and carry my butt around over jumps when I'm not in shape enough to have the strongest position possible to be able to help him with his job?

    Now I know that upper level riders/professionals ride enough horses per day that they are in great shape, but the rest of us don't ride nearly enough. So, I made a promise to myself and my horse: I am going to try to be in the best shape possible to make his job easier. Who's with me?
    My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!
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  • #2
    I know of an IEA team that has "team workouts," and those kids do wonderfully at shows...

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    • #3
      NCAA teams have mandatory workouts too.

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      • #4
        I am with you! I am unfit, overweight, and my horse is kind enough not to say anything, but I am pretty sure he is sick of lugging the fat jockey around. My goal for 2013 is to run a 5K. This coming from someone who hates running with a fiery passion, but I have got to do SOMETHING to get in better shape and hope to turn it into something fun like a mud run eventually.

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        • #5
          I don't do much, but what I do (as far as trying to exercise, mindful eating) is 100% based on the assumption/hope that it'll positively impact my riding. :-D

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          • #6
            hear hear! We, as riders, can't have it both ways. Can't be pissy when some non-horseperson says riding is easy because "you're just sitting there", if we're not fit enough to handle 30 minutes of aerobic/cardio type workout.
            Max and Ddash, GO FOR IT Good luck in your races, you can do it.

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            • #7
              I think it depends on the person and how dedicated they are to their riding. I would totally agree with you that it's unfair to expect so much from our horses without putting in the same work on ourselves. I think there are many ammy riders that are just as dedicated as the pros... Especially amongst the ones who want to compete and do well.

              I am not a pro but I am extremely dedicated to my riding and I take very good care of myself so that I can perform well in the saddle. I work my a** off to keep my horse in shape to ride at the level we do and I put equal effort into myself. I can't speak to other disciplines but in dressage you absolutely must have a strong core to be an effective rider. You can get away with some amount of core weakness at the lower levels but once you're riding at 2nd level and above and asking for collection you just have to have a strong core to really ride effectively and correctly. Even being in good shape I was amazed at how much more strength I needed the farther we progressed. I really had to step up my game once we started moving past 3rd level and training myself has become part of my routine as much as training my horse.

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              • #8
                I DO treat riding as a sport. I agree with you--I feel it is unfair for me to expect my horse to be in top physical condition and for me to not be fit.

                I spent 18 months with a personal trainer--as support for my husband, who wanted to get fit and lose weight--and I am now working out on my own, which includes a 3x weekly routine of cardio, kettle bells and core exercises. My mare is a big mover and a bit tricky to ride, so I need every bit of fitness I can muster. We made it thru 4th level and now that we are moving on to the PSG I will add more exercise to my regime if I need it.

                I also modified my diet in the last 6 months because I felt that I needed to drop a few pounds. I cut out alcohol and processed sugar and amped up the protein. It has helped! And I find that I enjoy my once weekly glass of wine more than having a glass every night at dinner.

                I really believe it is unfair to our horses when we are not fit. Whether or not you want to compete, the horse has to have some level of fitness in order to carry a rider. I think we should try to give them as much help as we can. And, even though I am sure people will flame me for this, it really makes me sad to see photos that people have posted for critique that involve an obese rider. I always want to suggest that perhaps they should drop some weight and see if that helps, but knowing that won't go over well stops me. I DO work to stay fit, and I know how hard it is to be fit and healthy but I still do it because I think it is only fair to my horse!

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                • #9
                  I have to treat it as a sport. My horse is extremely athletic and extremely sensitive. As he's moving up the levels in his training he offers me as much as I can handle as far as movement, and his collected canter feels like it will rip my guts out if I'm not fit enough!
                  Which is actually an issue now as I'm recovering from a sprained back. My routine I'm trying to get my back healed enough to return to is 1-1 1/2 hours in the gym 5 days a week with a combination of cardio and strength/flexibility, particularly core, walk at least two hours on weekends w/ the filly, and ride two horses 6 days a week.
                  Originally posted by Silverbridge
                  If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                  • #10
                    Honestly, despite the fact that I ride roughly four horses a day, I am super unfit. I have zero aerobic ability whatsoever. Me running for a train = a sorry sight.

                    That said, I don't find my riding is hindered at all. I don't find riding to be all that much effort. There is a reason that riding four plus a day does not give me much fitness: because it's not that taxing.

                    I train the horses to do the work so I don't have to. If everyone has their own forward motor, carries themself around, and doesn't weigh 90 pounds in the bridle, my job is to sit there and shift my weight around.

                    I think that the people who do bicep curls at the gym so they can hold their dressage horse up in the canter pirouettes, or who run on the treadmill so they can kick kick kick for an hour straight, are doing it back@$$wards.
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                    • #11
                      I used to consider riding my sport. These days it has dwindled to Hobby status. But I cannot stop old habits of fitness.

                      Which is why I drag my butt to the gym, and then to the barn to make sure Horsey is also fit. Trouble is, there have been years when I got Horsey too fit for me to ride in my alloted hobby time....
                      Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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                      • #12
                        Meupatdoes, I totally agree, but I think you are missing the point. (I think) that the original poster isn't riding 4 horses a day, and (I'm guessing) maybe isn't a trainer. I am a trainer too, so I get that it isn't that physically taxing if done correctly. However, I think we are talking here about people who are learning to do it correctly. That learning curve requires more fitness than a lot of people naturally have. I could be wrong in all of this, so please ignore or correct if I am way off base and entirely ignore me if I have offended, which is not my intention.
                        http://www.camstock.net/

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                        • #13
                          I run/walk 3-4 times a week, but only get to go see my horse about once a week. I am less sore and maintain a better seat when I am in better shape. My horse works hard for me, so I try to be in the best shape for her.
                          Only two emotions belong in the saddle: One is a sense of humor. The other is patience.

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                          • #14
                            It is like every other sport. There are people who play a pick up basketball game once per month and enjoy it. They do not have daily work outs to make sure they in shape for their monthly game.
                            Same with riding. There are people who ride occasionally and to them (and their horse who spends more time doing nothing than working) it is fine to go out once a month and be sore for days afterwards.

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                            • #15
                              I totally agree with RedmondDressage. I DO treat it as a sport and I take my fitness [almost] as seriously as my horses. I disagree with meupatdoes to a certain point, but do agree that the rider doesn't have to be *as* fit as the horse.

                              I ride 3 horses a day and find that I AM fit enough to hop on the treadmill or elliptical when I'm traveling for work and go pretty hard for 30-45 minutes. But I'm also very serious about exercising myself WHILE I'm riding. I ride one horse without stirrups every day, and I think that's a huge part of keeping myself in good physical condition....and I "work" while riding without stirrups (no sitting trot, lots of posting at the trot and canter, two point, etc.). I also drop my stirrups for a portion of the ride on both of the other horses. If I'm "not doing anything" while riding I'm doing it wrong...no two ways about it. Similar to what RedmondDressage said about dressage and core strength, there's no way to effectively stay with a horse over a big jump without that core and lower body strength.

                              But it comes down to priorities. Many riders don't take it as seriously and don't need to take it as seriously. No shame in not being super fit if you're not asking your horse to do anything extreme either.
                              __________________________________
                              Flying F Sport Horses
                              Horses in the NW

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                I think that the people who do bicep curls at the gym so they can hold their dressage horse up in the canter pirouettes, or who run on the treadmill so they can kick kick kick for an hour straight, are doing it back@$$wards.
                                Nice straw man argument, but you are making some false assumptions about the riding skills/level of those who happen to have a different opinion than you. Wouldn't you agree that riding four horses a day prob gives you the core strength that a more casual, one-horse rider may not have?

                                Point taken that you don't need to be able to run for 20-30min in order to ride effectively/competitively. By the way, even long distance runners will get out of breath trying to do a sudden sprint like running for a train. Not sure if you've noticed, but runners do have to breathe hard and push their bodies--it's not as if we're breathing calmly through our noses as if we're reading a book. (Maybe we're just a little more comfortable being uncomfortable than most )

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post
                                  Nice straw man argument, but you are making some false assumptions about the riding skills/level of those who happen to have a different opinion than you. Wouldn't you agree that riding four horses a day prob gives you the core strength that a more casual, one-horse rider may not have?

                                  Point taken that you don't need to be able to run for 20-30min in order to ride effectively/competitively. By the way, even long distance runners will get out of breath trying to do a sudden sprint like running for a train. Not sure if you've noticed, but runners do have to breathe hard and push their bodies--it's not as if we're breathing calmly through our noses as if we're reading a book. (Maybe we're just a little more comfortable being uncomfortable than most )
                                  Why the aggression? Plenty of people have posted differing opinions without the level of hostility you displayed and I was not hostile in my comment at all.

                                  I restricted my comments to a subset of people: those who do bicep curls SO THAT they can hold their dressage horse up in the canter pirouettes. There are plenty of riders who do bicep curls for other reasons (perhaps they also do Tae Kwon Do, or they just like having toned arms.)

                                  "Not sure if you've noticed," but everyone was being perfectly civil until you showed up.

                                  I don't do GP level jumping like some people on this thread, although I have loped up to 4'6" oxers with my unfit self and trained horses from "just-broke" up to canter pirouettes and tempi changes. I think for the average rider who isn't jumping 5' square, it is less about muscle and more about timing and feel. Just my opinion.
                                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                  Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                                  • #18
                                    Well.... I've been riding two horses for a while, and no, it doesn't keep me fit for riding so I've HAD to get back to the gym as I've been, ahem.... aging.

                                    For years (decades) I've ridden spooky horses w/ pretty reasonable stickyness. A year and a half ago, I was starting my young (spooky) horse along w/ eventing his older brother. I FELL OFF 3 times in 2 weeks due to spooks and/or stops. NEVER have I fallen off that frequently. I was really frustrated and worried. DH said, well, are you fit enough? (mind he does NOT ride). So I thought about it. And no, my fitness regimen had gone out the window with kids and work and horses. Back to the workout regimen I have gone. And yes, it has helped tremendously sitting through the sillies and just general all around riding. For me, core strength cannot be dismissed. It is a necessity for riding. It keeps me centered instead of getting moved off center, thereby causing my falls, which means, yes, as I have aged, I do have to hit the gym. After 40, the "use it or lose it" really becomes true!

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                                    • #19
                                      oy. Meup, Nothing in my words or intention was hostile or uncivil. I'll admit to expressing some mild sarcasm by using "Nice". Sorry, I grew up in NJ. It's a flaw for many of us. I agreed with you that my point about aerobic ability was not necessarily valid. Gosh, even tried to sympathize with feeling like crap after running for a train because even serious athletes feel that way. Pointing out a straw man argument is not uncivil, and I think it's worth doing because discussing different viewpoints gets difficult when the other's viewpoints are exaggerated or misrepresented. You probably didn't intend to do that, so how 'bout we call it a draw.

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                                      • #20
                                        ALL of the "serious" riders I know also "cross train" intensively, namely, they do exercises off the horses to improve their riding- yes, even people who ride multiple horses per day.
                                        If you're a recreational rider, just doing a couple of sessions of pilates every week will dramatically improve your riding.

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