Ever run out of puff after three jumps on the cross-country course, or wake up stiff and achey from that intense dressage lesson? Well no more!
Now that January is upon us, it is time to put away holiday-related excuses for eating and drinking excessively and giving up on our routines and work goals. But, don’t see January as a time for sadness! It’s the year 2018! A year where great things will be achieved. And now’s the time to start. I know its cleche, New Year’s Resolutions and all that, but there really is value in it! Some of the most common resolutions are health and fitness related, and with good reason. Riding alone is often not enough to keep you as fit as you should be, so it’s a good idea to take up other forms of excercise – not only for your own health and happiness, but also to improve your riding too. To give you a little extra push to get going this month, and more importantly to keep at it, I will give you the best ways I think get to perfectly fit and agile enough to reach your riding potential. Your horse will thank you
No! Don’t skip past this one!
I know running is something that a lot of people dread. Just becuase riding is a sport, I know that not all equestians would class themselves as ‘sporty’. But I promise you, ANYONE is capable of running. If you commit yourself and set a reasonable goal, following a realistic and gradual running programme, the results can be totally transforming. I began by running for 30 seconds, and walking for three minutes x 5, three times a week (totalling at only 20 minutes out of my day), and from gradually increasing my jogging time over 12 weeks, I can now happily run non-stop for 30 minutes. I have always wanted to be able to run, and I promise if I can do it you can! I first felt the need to improve my stamina when I realised I was knackered after a 2 minute show jumping round, but now I find I’m not gasping for breath after the second jump!
As well as this, I love running in the countryside as it motivates me so much more than just running on roads. Perhaps it would be worth getting to the yard early, doing your chores and then jogging down some bridle paths or footpaths straight from your yard. This is not only a good way to get into a routine of running often, but you can also test terrain before riding on it, and even find some new tracks. Plus, you can take your canine companion and get the dog walked at the same time. I run with my whippet attatched to a belt, and he absiloutly loves it. Kill two birds with one stone.
I use the ‘Runkeeper’ app to track my progress, and there are lots of running fitness plans on sites such as Pinterest, plus looking at pretty pictures of people running can often give you the motivation you need!
Pilates is probably of the most benefit to your riding out of all the suggestions on this post. I go weekly to pilates specifically for horse riders, and I come away from the session feeling so supple and flexible I wish I could do it more than just once a week! Pilates is brilliant for evening out both sides of your body so that your balance in the saddle is improved, plus it’s great for mastering separate movement from each part of your body, for example moving one leg while keeping your other leg and hips still. This is very helpful when riding and improves your strength and ability to give clear aids. It also vastly strengths your core which is essential when riding. Plus, going to pilates for horse riders is a great laugh as you find yourself among ‘your people’. To do – find a pilates for horse riders class near you and book a place!
3. YouTube/App Workouts
Who has time for the gym when you’ve got to do the horses twice a day plus everything else? Instead of wasting time and money driving to the gym and paying for a membership, simply follow workouts online from the comfort of your own home! This fittess tip is for the self-disciplined as it’s up to you to find a designated area in your home to do your workouts, and to do them properly. There are hundred of fitness youtubers and workout apps that you can find or download – do a little bit of research, pick one and you’re away! Some things to type into the Youtube search bar: Workouts for horse riders, equestrian fitness exercises, core strengthening workouts…you get the gist.
Zumba is fantastic fun, and an unbeatable cardio workout. For those of you who don’t mind mobing your feet and shaking your hips from time to time – zumba is for you! It’s a dance workout to a range of tunes – from modern day pop to tango or bollywood music, you won’t leave without a sweat. Though not related to horse riding directly, it’s great for flexibility, stamina and balance no matter your age or ability! There are tons of zumba classes all over the UK so your bound to find one that suits you. I urge you to give it a try!
Lastly, a less energetic work out but no less fittening. Walking is a great way to gain fitness without dancing or running if you feel you aren’t so much that way inclined. Us equestrians love any chance to get out into the fresh air and explore the countryside. Walking is a lovely way to take in the scenery and stay fit and active at the same time. Doing is regularly is the key. Purposefully walking a mile a day is proven to enduce weight-loss, but you do have to put a bit of power into it, hence the name. No dawdling now…
So there you go, some inspiration to get active and help your horse by becoming fitter and…dare I say, lighter? I find that if my horse is on a fittening programme then I should set him and example and be one too. We can’t let him do ALL the work now can we?