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Exercises for balance (of the rider) ?

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  • Exercises for balance (of the rider) ?

    I'm working my way back into riding after time off - I had a little unplanned dismount in September and broke my back and dislocated some ribs. Good times!

    Despite the injury, I still managed to hop on for 10-15 minutes of mostly 2-point or half seat at the walk twice per week, so my legs aren't completely shot. My balance, however, leaves something to be desired! I've never had to be so sedentary in my life. I know some of my balance will come back with more daily activity... however I'm curious if anyone knows of mounted (or unmounted) activities to work on balance as well.

    To make this more difficult: I can't ride without stirrups, bareback, or sit the trot or canter right now (can't aggravate the bone by concussive forces). Unmounted, I can't do sit-ups or anything that involves bending my back forward (like touching my toes). I can do plenty of half seat or 2-point (in fact that is easier than sitting at the walk), or things like squats where my back is flat.

    Any ideas? Even if it seems basic and is usually done with beginners at the walk - that would be great for me. I'm just building back up.

    (Pleeeease no grief about not riding while hurt, my doc said what I'm doing is OK.)

    Thanks ya'll!

  • #2
    If you can post the trot, change your diagonal by rising for two beats rather than sitting for two--it's deceptively hard. Or try just flat out STANDING straight up while your horse is walking. Also trickier than it sounds.
    I love my Econo-Nag!


    • #3
      Sounds silly and you may be way to advanced, but get yourself an exercise ball. After having kids just watching TV I would sit on that ball and work my thighs and balance back and forth, right to left. Also bouncing on it when you are able. Can't tell you how many times that ball threw me, but I feel it helped abit.
      The View from Here


      • Original Poster

        Oh, yes, those are great ideas...! I can post for a few minutes here and there - great idea with the "standing one" and just standing straight up.

        And DUH (to me), of course an exercise ball at home would help! I think we have one in the attic. Will send the husband up to fetch it.

        I'm not "too advanced" for anything, so please don't hold back.

        Keep em coming, please!


        • #5
          This may be kind of an odd suggestion, but what about slack lining? I know a lot of people who use it to trainn for rock climbing. Plus, I find it very relaxing.



          • #6
            If someone can lunge you, get into two point, close your eyes and start pretending you're an airplane! Backwards arm circles back stroke style etc. too


            • #7
              Do walk trot transitions in your 2 point. Helps figure out your balance and strengthen your leg.


              • #8
                Originally posted by RU2U View Post
                Sounds silly and you may be way to advanced, but get yourself an exercise ball. After having kids just watching TV I would sit on that ball and work my thighs and balance back and forth, right to left. Also bouncing on it when you are able. Can't tell you how many times that ball threw me, but I feel it helped abit.
                Yes! Ask a PT to show you how to do crunches on the ball. Ball under your bum/small of your back, toes under the couch. Tiny (I mean really tiny) sit-up type motions center, then breast to left knee, breast to right knee. You're mainly straight.

                good luck.


                • #9
                  There are all kinds of balance boards out there.
                  If you need to keep your back straight, get the ones that move from side to side only for now, similar to this one, that I think you can find cheaper in other places:



                  • #10
                    Wii Fit has a ton of great balance exercises, plus yoga and aerobics and strength training. You won't be able to do everything right now with your back, but there should be enough to start with and it will definitely help with balance and strength.
                    Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                    • #11
                      I second the Wii Fit. I've been having great fun with the balance games.


                      • #12
                        If you go with the Wii fit well you have to get the Ramon's Ravving Rabbids! My family loves the sled riding on our board! Its very therapeutic and stretches out all those muscles!

                        Seriously, my hubby hasn't been asking for back massages since he does the yoga and the rabbids every night!
                        The View from Here


                        • #13
                          Another great balance tool is the Bosu Ball, available at most sporting goods stores. It is like a half-ball with a flat bottom. For starters, try just standing on the ball, with the flat part on the ground. Then, do squats like this. Then build up to doing one-legged squats (keep one hand on a nearby wall if you need to). This does both build your legs and your balance. Be sure to "engage your core" (or abdominals) while you do this to really work your core strength, which is where balance comes from.

                          When you have mastered this, turn the ball over. That's right. Put the flat side up and the curved squishy ball on the ground. Now, start all over. Try just standing, then doing squats and then doing one-legged squats. This is pretty difficult but a GREAT way to build leg & core strength & balance.

                          Another REALLY great exercise with the bosu is to get a bouncey medicine ball (weighted ball that will bounce). Stand on the bosu (either flat side down or up, depending on your skill level), and bounce the ball VERY hard (I mean SLAM it down) and catch it -- 10 times to your right, 10 times in front, 10 times to your left. You can do this alternating (1 right, 1 front, 1 left, 1 front, 1 right, etc.) or in groups (10 right, 10 front, 10 left). Either way, this becomes a great upper-body workout as well as core / balance AND aerobics! Yes, you WILL be huffing and puffing. Start with an 8-lb medicine ball and work up to 12-lbs.

                          No bending required. You WILL develop killer abs and strong balance!

                          Good luck!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RU2U View Post
                            If you go with the Wii fit well you have to get the Ramon's Ravving Rabbids!
                            It looks like it is the Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party game that uses the balance board. Are these games good for single-players, or are they really best as multi-layer games?
                            Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                            • #15
                              someone suggested this to me on the dressage forum:

                              They have a bunch of other balance exercise stuff- and all for a decent price. I'm going to order the one above. I like that you can change it for more difficulty. I lean to the left- hoping this will help!!


                              • #16
                                Mary Wanless has some great exercises with a Balance Ball (gymball) designed specifically for riders on her website: http://www.mary-wanless.com/

                                Click on the Products tab, then on gymballs, then click link to article on using gymballs.
                                "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                                • #17
                                  Try posting on one leg only. Drop on stirrup and post for awhile on only one leg. Then switch. It's really hard.

                                  Try posting on your back - lie on the floor with your knees up and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your feet are the same distance from your butt. Then bring your pelvis straight and straight down. You can also roll throug the spine. Make sure both hips are coming up at the same time without one leading. Try not to wobble side to side.

                                  You can also do this with your heels only touching the floor (Tom Nagel's book, Zen and Horsemanship).

                                  Then put one leg in the air and go up and down with only one leg. Switch.

                                  Have fun!
                                  Laurie Higgins
                                  "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."


                                  • #18
                                    "extreme balance board"

                                    I saw an article in USEF Horse Show Mag. a couple of months ago and they had 2 dressage riders talking about core strength and demonstrating using a snow board/ skateboard without wheels type device. My personal trainer (who is a rider) read the article and at my next session had me try a wood version of the round "extreme balance board"*. I found sitting on it very hard to balance. I now have one at home and use it during my computer time. I put it on a piece of wood. on my regular chair - I try to balance without touching anything at least during commercials.

                                    The exercise ball works, but I do not sit and watch TV and it does not lend itself to working at a table.

                                    *Extreme balance board" is what the article called it. If you search that you will get a large number of choices at a variety of $. I also saw a "how to make" on either ehow or diy.

                                    A few years ago the talk shows were pushing the PB Disc pillow for core strength http://www.performbetter.com/detail....tegoryID_E_232. As a regular rider I did not notice any wow facter to using it when I borrowed one, but following an injury it may be a good place to start.

                                    Good luck


                                    • #19
                                      Rebounding on mini-tramp

                                      Rebounding on a mini-tramp.

                                      Stand in the center of the tramp. Look forward. Breath. Straighten your feet by rolling your leg in at the hip socket (roll heel outward). Balance as if you are on the horse. Tighten your core and roll up on each foot, one at a time (horse walking). Keep your weight on the supporting foot. Your hips should not move to the side, but only forward and back. Then do it faster. Then lift your foot but keep the toe on the tramp. Pretend you are trotting. Keep your center low as if your sitting the trot. Then do it by actually lifting your foot off the tramp.

                                      Do all this with relaxed arms and shoulders...if you can I hold my arms up like I'm riding. The relaxation part is key.

                                      If the tramp goes "down" farther than it goes "up" then you are un-balanced or misaligned in your body. You should go "up" with very little input energy and very little going "down"

                                      Amazing workout, at home. You can do when it's dark or raining. Play with it. Find other ways to test your balance. Pretend you are cantering.
                                      "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

                                      "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x


                                      • #20
                                        Try the Wii Fit!

                                        That said, when you break your back healing takes time, so don't push it. Remember that damage to the muscles and soft tissue is part of the injury