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Cross-training: is there anything a rider shouldn't do?

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  • Cross-training: is there anything a rider shouldn't do?

    So (thanks to Groupon) I bought a class pass at a local pilates/barre studio near me. Had my first class yesterday, and really enjoyed it! A lot of the mat pilates stuff was things I've done before in other classes, which are great for riding core strength. I loved the barre section too, but I'm wondering if the ideas in a barre workout will go against what I'm working on in my riding (ie, spiraling thighs out isn't exactly what you want on a horse!). But then again, I'm a novice-level rider who has no great aspirations (or, sadly, any innate ability ) so I'm wondering what harm it can do?

    So are there any exercises/methods/classes that really do mess too much with the unique fitness needs of a rider?

  • #2
    I don't really think there's anything you SHOULDN'T do, exercise-wise. At most, I'd say just to be sure to be gentle on your knees.
    Adversity is the stone on which I sharpen my blade.

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    • #3
      As an amateur, anything that gets you more strong and flexible has to be a good thing. Go for it and don't worry too much about developing the 'wrong' muscles.
      --
      Wendy
      ... and Patrick

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      • #4
        unless you've recently bought a pair of expensive custom boots- many a person has managed to put on calf muscle after taking up cross-training such that they can't get their boots on any more.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wendy View Post
          unless you've recently bought a pair of expensive custom boots- many a person has managed to put on calf muscle after taking up cross-training such that they can't get their boots on any more.
          This actually happened to me! I lost weight, but had to buy new wider field boots...
          Southern Cross Guest Ranch
          An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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          • #6
            Well, if you take up one of the pole dancing classes, stay out of the high heels! I wore heels for so long that getting my heel down was really really hard! (I wasn't pole dancing though)
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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            • #7
              Welp, believe this or not, I've read where serious riders shouldn't 'do' ballet. Something about the muscles and movements counteract each other. It's been a good 5-6 years since I heard of this. I asked on another horse board if anyone had heard of this and surprisingly, quite a few had.

              I'm thinking in riding, you want your elbows in and low center of gravity and in ballet, you're elbows are out and the COG is higher. Something like that.

              Don't yell at me, I'm just the messenger!!

              ETA: There was also something about snow skiing and riding, too.
              GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

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              • #8
                my instructor has had issues skiiing; we've all been trained, when we get in trouble on a horse, "sit up, heels down !!" apparently this is the exact wrong thing to do on skis....? she's ended up on her butt on the slopes a few times.

                i would think the biggest thing with ballet would be with the hip to toe turnout you'd end up with; it might carry over into the saddle and if you're riding dressage, be hard to train yourself out of.
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by goneriding24 View Post
                  Welp, believe this or not, I've read where serious riders shouldn't 'do' ballet. Something about the muscles and movements counteract each other. It's been a good 5-6 years since I heard of this. I asked on another horse board if anyone had heard of this and surprisingly, quite a few had.

                  I'm thinking in riding, you want your elbows in and low center of gravity and in ballet, you're elbows are out and the COG is higher. Something like that.

                  Don't yell at me, I'm just the messenger!!

                  ETA: There was also something about snow skiing and riding, too.
                  to do ballet that serious, you won't have time to ride.

                  (but I am guessing the toe thing would be hard to overcome....)

                  but seriously, ballet can be a kick butt low impact workout for flexibility. Can't beat it, really!
                  Originally posted by BigMama1
                  Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                  GNU Terry Prachett

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                  • #10
                    I actually do have a cogent thought about this. I think that if you are learning mastery over your body in any context, no matter how much it might go against riding mastery, the fact that you're learning to control your body is a GOOD THING.

                    The fact that you're staying in shape is a GOOD THING.

                    While some activities are kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum (like skiing vs water skiing) it doesn't diminish the control aspect.
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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                    • #11
                      I remember reading an article about ballet, and gymnastics. In Horse and Rider magazine. The trainer being interviewed said that they get too muscular, when what you want is the ability to make your butt punky in the saddle, like a deflated basketball. Honest, that's what I remember but it was 40 years ago so . . .
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible

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                      • #12
                        As the average amateur rider and the average fitness goer, I would say no. Some gym version of ballet/gymnastics/etc would not mess with your riding. I agree that if anything, its beneficial as it does give you more strength, endurance, and a better sense of body awareness. Now if you were training competitively in another sport, and it didn't really compliment riding, it might be detrimental. Would be an interesting thing to do some actual studies on!

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                        • #13
                          The only part of gymnastics/ballet training (that I did for many many years as a kid) that really has made riding difficult, is I cannot for the life of me, get my heels down! Standing on my toes for all those years has made me very flexible in pointing my toes, but heels up? forgetaboutit!!

                          But, the upside after starting to ride as an adult, was that same gymnastic/ballet training made me more coordinated than a lot of the other adults I started to ride with and in turn, made it easier for me to grasp body position and how it influences riding! I actually progressed faster than adults that didn't have the coordination. If you're already riding, I'd say just relax and have fun with your other sports/hobbies, the strength and fitness you gain will far outweigh any "possible" effects!
                          Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

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                          • #14
                            Actually years ago there was a rider that was I think long listed for the Olympics, and was also very competitive downhill skiing. I found alot of similarities in working on riding cross country and a downhill skiing lesson I got a few weeks later, the instructor was amazed at how fast I picked up on what he was saying, well of course, I'd had it drilled into me by my trainer. Most of it was simple about having a strong core and being balanced over your own feet. I would say that golf is completely counter intuitive to riding. Rolling your shoulders forward, and keeping your head down during the swing, granted I golfed once, but it was the most alien thing to me!

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                            • #15
                              I have never had a problem with heels down, but I can see where if you had to learn turnout for ballet (mine's innate and reaches a scary degree) it might become a problem. But the center-of-gravity thing should not be a significant problem (some of that is innate-I have a low COG and nothing I do in dance will change that) and both require a lot of core strength.
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                              • #16
                                I find a lot of similarities between ski-ing and riding:basic same position, straight line ear, shoulder, hip, heel, flex at ankle and hip, stay tall, shoulders back and relaxed, arms softly at the sides! Learning body awarness in any sport or acitivity can be a big boost to improve your riding!

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                                • #17
                                  I danced (ballet) pretty seriously for all of my childhood and into young adulthood. If anything, I always got the opposite advice from dance teachers--that things like riding, skiing, and ice skating were bad for ballet, because they build muscles that can compromise the hip flexibility needed for turnout. I, however, never had an issue--but then again, I wasn't auditioning for ABT, nor did I have aspirations to do so.

                                  I will say that ballet (and I had pretty decent turnout, danced en pointe for 10 years, etc) did nothing but good things for my riding. Yes, I had flexible hips capable of rotating outwards--but they were also STRONG and could therefore basically "do what I wanted to them to", if that makes sense. (Think of it this way...it takes flexibility to turn out your legs, but strength to keep them there--a ballet dancer uses entire bands of muscles in the glutes, thighs, and calves to hold that turnout throughout all of the movements they do. It's not just about being bendy, but bendy and strong.)

                                  And if you're stretching and otherwise being trained properly, keeping your heels down won't be an issue either--dancers need to have a full range of motion in their ankles and feet to move across the floor, jump, etc...not just pointed toes.

                                  And the biggest and best benefit is the core strength you get--which is nothing but a huge asset when you ride. So, sorry for the slight rant--but no, pilates/dance will do nothing but improve your riding. As others have said--really, any activity that improves strength, flexibility, endurance, and body awareness will be a boon to saddle time. So have fun!

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                                  • #18
                                    When I was teenager I quit ballet because my teacher said I needed to stop riding horses if I were to become a professional dancer.

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                                    • #19
                                      I agree with everyone else here... I started cross fit classes and they are hard work, but I think everything actually helps with riding. You may not be practicing putting your heels down in the classes or things that you would do exactly as on a horse, but I gained so much calf strength that the little flexibility that I lost (at the beginning... it comes back with time) in my ankles didn't make any difference.
                                      Who say's your best friend has to be human?

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by PaintPony View Post
                                        When I was teenager I quit ballet because my teacher said I needed to stop riding horses if I were to become a professional dancer.
                                        That's not body mechanics, that's time. Someone seriously intending to be a professional ballet dancer (Olympic figure skaters, make the cut to the top 48 at the UK Open ballroom competition, etc) doesn't have time to waste on other sports. Conversely someone who wants to really have a serious junior-leading-to-GP pro rider probably should not be doing other activities either. Having worked at a skating club that does turn out top-ten US skaters I now completely understand and support the "monomania" for serious kid athletes. They really do need all that time. For ballet in particular, remember you're going to most likely be retiring when you're 40 if you're lucky (a few rare cases keep dancing longer, but that's not a lot of people at all). There's no time to fool around with other activities.
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