Rider Fitness

Discussion in 'Horse Riding' started by Halligan, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. Halligan

    Halligan Well-known Member

    So in line with the other thread that's going I thought I'd ask the question...

    What is rider fitness?

    Rider fitness is a special type of fitness, a combination of suppleness, stamina, muscle strength and flexibility. Being fit to ride allows the rider to move in balance with the horse; with free and flexible movements.
    A balanced rider needs to be flexible on both sides, to be supple and strong, to be soft in the hands and firm in the shoulders, to roll through the hips and be steady in the legs.
    Being properly fit to ride requires attention to your whole body, not just a strong right arm.
    Although riding itself is a form of exercise, most individuals will simply not be doing it enough to increase fitness from riding alone. Casual riders often only ride once or twice a week, and can notice that they get very tired during schooling itself and can?t achieve the results they want. This can be disheartening. The higher the level the rider would like to perform at, the more essential is their fitness.
    No matter how much care, time and training you spend on your horse, if you neglect yourself then your neglecting half of your team.

    Feeding your body the appropriate fuel is important as well, we have our horses on strict feeding programs and so we ourselves should follow similar guidelines in that we eat quality foods that will fuel our bodies so that we can perform to the best of our abilities also.
    While some riding disciplines may demand a higher fitness level than others, any rider who is fit to ride is likely to have more fun riding no matter what discipline they prefer. Using specially created riding exercise programs will help you achieve your goals, because the creators already know the direction you are aiming for.

    What's everyone's views on this?
  2. needanswers

    needanswers Well-known Member

    I love that statement:

    No matter how much care, time and training you spend on your horse, if you neglect yourself then your neglecting half of your team.

    Halligan - how can we measure our fitness levels?

    Is there a checklist of things we should be able to perform to ride at our best?
  3. Brew

    Brew Well-known Member

    Most of the worlds top riders spend time doing floor exercises to remain supple and fit.
    Most riders have some kind of lesson at some stage. Some more serious riders have three or more lessons a week ! Given that lessons cost a fortune (Cos coaches have to eat too!)we need to get as much as posible from each lesson. Your coach can stand for hours telling you "Heels down" "hands up" "sit tall" but if you lack fitness you can't keep the position and it bloody hurts !!
    I have found that a few simple exercises can improve anybodies riding out of sight. For the record I hate exercise ! I hate gyms and all that jazz and I never run or ride a bike ! I take the car to the end paddock (200m) Running is something you do only if you are being chased !!
    Horse specific exercise is nothing at all to do with keep fit crap and done right it will change your horse life! My perfect day is sitting on the couch eating chockie cake and Mars bars whilst smoking a pack of fags. I figure I get enough exercise catching the damm horse thankyou but even I do these exercises and can ride multiple horses every day.
    I am a size 10 and have to work to keep weight on -7 years ago I was an 18 and over and my horse is my gym !!!!
    Halligan has a set of exercises that work !We have to forgive her "gym junkie mode" each to their own I guess now I need to go eat>
  4. Nicnacs_Mistress

    Nicnacs_Mistress Well-known Member

    lol @ Brew!

    Halligan, I would like to hear more please!

    My fitness program at them moment consists of -
    Hour or longer riding lesson every Sunday
    Swimming at least 3 days a week
    Walk/Run intervals 2 days a week
    Yoga/muscle groups usually once a week, maybe more.

    I have noticed an improvement, but you will also notice that I am only riding my horses at the riding lesson! Haven't started riding more during the week, but I will get there lol.
  5. Excelsior Centerpiece

    Excelsior Centerpiece Well-known Member

    lol, if you ride properly- you dont need to run or swim so much! :)

    erin, i have problems with flexibility in my right leg joints, from the hip down, i cant get my leg back on on as effectivly as the other side (which i think is odd as im very right sided... but maybe its cos i am so right sided that its just stiff?)

    anyway- some excersises to help losen ot stretch or whatever to be able to get that going would be great!
  6. shadowkat

    shadowkat Well-known Member

    I would LOVE a few pony-specific exercises. I've been going to the gym for a month or so now, and I really like feeling stronger and fitter, but since I'm not riding at the moment I don't know how that's translating into horse fitness.
  7. Nicnacs_Mistress

    Nicnacs_Mistress Well-known Member

    EC - I agree. But I've literally only started this fortnight, so will see how I go lol.
    My aim is to ride at least 3 times a week, including those lessons on the weekend; plus do all the other exercises.
    Aiming on losing 15kg so I have to step it up a little, and I am realising it is actually fun lol.
    (cant believe I just said that)
  8. Excelsior Centerpiece

    Excelsior Centerpiece Well-known Member

    GOOD ON YOU!!!!!! if u need support we are here! **) wow! wish i could fit it all in too! swimming would be good!
  9. Halligan

    Halligan Well-known Member

    Hi guys, just so you don't think I've disappeared, I've read all your questions and I will post my replies after work ;) otherwise I'll get no work done at all haha
  10. eventingchild

    eventingchild Well-known Member

    I dont think riding along is enough, but I like to be quite fit :)

    I ride 3-4hours a morning at work (gallopers) and then ride my own and then go for a run for 20-30mins **)
  11. Go the Distance

    Go the Distance Well-known Member

    I agree eventingchild. Riding doesn't cover all our fitness bases. I like to run or at least walk fast so that I get a bit of a cardio work out than I get on my horse. This is easy when training for distance because you can do it out on the track while leading your horse.
  12. katelol

    katelol Guest

    I think that its important to find exercise that suits you, cos if it doesn't its alot easier to stay home :}

    I HATE floor/mat exercises. They suck big time, especially when you are at the gym grovelling around on the floor in a room full of muscle men *#) so I just don't do them.

    I love lap swimming - 2 minute drive to the pool, less than 30 mins to swim a kilometer, I would rather do that than watch another rerun on the tv.

    I love running on a treadmill. Its much better for my dodgy knee and I can read while I'm doing it. Ditto for the stairclimber too, great for your butt :p
  13. farfromhome

    farfromhome Well-known Member

    i really want to start yoga and do alot more streching
    getting a damn fit ball this weekend :p
    i have found my fitness when riding has changed in leaps and bounds, i still find im struggling with tighness in my thighs and my knees (i have dodgy knees)

    and my overall fitness has come along well, i can now carry the feeds around the place without getting puffed out, need to work on my guns ;) i have pretty much no arm muscle as i played basketball for 10 years and built it all in my legs #(

    i would also love work outs to do with streching and building core muscle strength
  14. Halligan

    Halligan Well-known Member

    Will post proper replies tonight but can I ask this:

    When you go to the gym or out to do any form of exercise do you do a warm up and stretch or a cool down and stretch when finished? If you say yes, do you do the same with riding? We warm our horses up and cool them down and let them have astretch but what about a proper one for yourself??

    If you don't, why not? This could be a major contributor to why you are so stiff and sore or inflexible, if you don't stretch you won't increase your flexibility.
  15. SexyRitzy

    SexyRitzy Well-known Member

    Wow good point. Yes i warm up and cool down when I work out in the mornings but never really thought about it before riding. *#)

    Are there an specific warm ups you recommend that are good before riding and for cool down afterward?

    And thank you for sharing your advise and knowledge :))
  16. Halligan

    Halligan Well-known Member

    Brew!!!! You are so naughty!!! :p pmsl
    I agree, horse specific exercises aren't anything to do with fitness as such but increasing muscle strenght and endurance, and they are easy enough, you just have to know which ones to do and... to actually do them!
    However on another note, yes I am a self confessed fitness freak BUT being limber and fit certainly HELP with reducing the effort we put our horses through but that is my opinion, why make your horse work harder than they have to if it's something you as the rider can prevent?

    That's a great fitness base to start with by all means but to get more rider oriented I'd be adding in some riding specific moves, something that can simulate things your do whilst in the saddle, that way you can built the strength whilst not interferring with the horse, this will then translate to your time spent in the saddle.
    I use a lot of resistance bands and freeweights to mimick this, it doesn't have to be done in a gym at all, so if you don't like the gym *cough* Brew *cough* :D you can do them in the comfort of your own home/stable.

    Hey Kass, yep we'll cover some of these in the coming weeks at our sessions but basically I'l be getting you to do some intensive stretching and getting some resistance bands out for you to work with, but until then go for a walk/jog, get warm and then have a good long stretch in front of the telly

    Hey Shadowkat, without getting in the saddle it can be hard to see the results taking shape BUT if you are doing weights that's a good start.
    I'll be getting together with some friends in the next few weeks to get some photoshoots of exercises that can help you all.
    I'm also starting up a rider specific group fitness class if anyone is interested? (at the moment the info is in the business services thread)

    Hey Summer, totally agree with you, I think some normal cardio is good to keep active and flexible.
    I know Wendy Schaefer goes for daily runs even when she's riding several horses, so if the top riders are doing it, there must be some sort of benefit to it all right?


    Hahaha yep agree, each to their own, a lot of people don't like gyms cos they're full of posers and a lot of people feel very self conscious, swimming is great for non-impact fitness yet it still works your muscles.

    I'll have more info up in the coming weeks for this sort of thing but yoga is great for strenght and flexibilty, definately give it a go.

    No worries :p
    You can do your normal warm up for your horse, then let them stand for a bit, lift your foot up into a quad stretch, swap over. Draw circles with your toes. Roll your shoulders and arms to mobilise joints. Put your arms out to the side then twist through you torso so that one hand points to the ears and one to the tail, this will mobilise your lower back, twist back the other way also to do both sides.
    Whatever you do, just do both sides to keep yourself even. If you feel tighter on one side, stretch it a bit more until you feel more even.
    Just make sure you have a stretch after also ;)
  17. Nicnacs_Mistress

    Nicnacs_Mistress Well-known Member

    This is what my instructor has us all do during our warm-up. And if she sees that we're not doing it properly before the lesson she spends a good ten minutes (or thereabouts) working on our stretches during the lesson. A particularly painful one in my first lesson was stretching one left leg back and right arm to the horse's ears, then swap sides. Doesn't hurt so much anymore, and I find that my leg position is heaps better after it has been shifted so far back then put back into place.

    I also use a fitball at home (sitting on it right now!) and have found that my core is tightening, I can hold my muscles in for longer periods and I can stretch further doing yoga.

    What would be a good exercise to strengthen my inner leg muscles? Especially my 'leg-on aids'? They are slowly getting stronger, I can hold my leg on longer if need be, but putting my leg on harder if need be is a bit of a struggle, especially when he's not listening instantly to inside leg outside rein...
  18. Halligan

    Halligan Well-known Member

    One to start out with would involve a resistance band. You'd attach this to you ankle (let's say the right to start), attach it to a pole or door or some solid surface that is the same level as your ankle(to the right of your ankle) you would start with your feet shoulder width apart, and cross your right foot over infront of your left, hold and release slowly, repeat. Swap legs. Hope that helps get you started ;)
  19. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    Training myself makes a massive difference to the way I ride and the way my horse goes. Even if I have a week or 2 off training, when I ride I find my core collapses and I can't keep my horse properly "together".

    I expect her to haul my arse around and actually use her body, develop muscle, balance and finesse then I should make her and my life easier by developing myself in the same way.

    I honestly don't understand why there are so many overweight (and I mean well overweight) competitive performance riders!! How can they expect their horses to be a high performers while their lardy arse grows and the poor horse has to compensate.

    Yeah stretching - I'm a bit naughty, I try to stretch every night but forget a lot :eek:
  20. Wobbles

    Wobbles Active Member

    Halligan- Do you do personalised plans for people?

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