With this season about to start it’s not just the horse that needs to be fit but the rider as well.
A rider needs the flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning and strength required of other competitive athletes, and will need to look at other forms of exercise out of the saddle to get the required fitness levels.
This can be in the form of gym classes, running, cycling or swimming. Start your program at low intensity levels for a short duration, and increase the intensity and length of time as your body changes and adapts. Begin every exercise program with a good flexibility warm-up and end with a stretching cool-down.
The core describes the muscles between your sternum and hips and every successful rider that assists their horse rather than handicaps it needs to have a strong core. Pilates in particular will help strengthen your core and help improve your posture while on horseback.
Essentially all of the pilates exercises teach access and function of these deep muscles of the abdomen and back and promote efficient balance, and it is this feature that makes it so useful to riding. Some exercises directly strengthen these abdominal and back muscles, while others challenge the ability of these muscles to maintain alignment during movement of the legs or arms. These approaches are both valuable to riding. The rider develops sufficient muscle connection and strength to stay in good posture and balance on the moving horse, and, can support this position even while giving a rein or leg aid. Truly independent aids are then possible.