Riders fitness is becoming ever more popular. Whilst a horses fitness is a major priority for most riders, not all of us take our own fitness into account. More and more people are realising their fitness plays a big role on how their horse performs as a result. An obvious benefit being general fitness helps to prevent injuries when on and off the horse.

Back pain is one of the biggest problems horse riders face but with regular exercise and stretching (when you’re off your horse) it can help reduce this. As a rider we lift the weight of a weightlifter, we have miles to walk and have half ton animals to control so being and keeping fit is fundamental.  This does not mean you need to be in the gym everyday twice a day and be the next Jessica Ennis-Hill. However, being a more balanced, fit rider will make your horses life that little bit easier.

“Dressage is the art of teaching the horse to carry you. Riding is the art of learning to be a good load to carry” – Richard Weiss

The age old question…Have you ever been told horse riding is not a sport? We all know this is definitely not true, it is a physical and demanding sport that needs you to be fit for the task in hand. We spend thousands of pounds a year on our four legged friends making sure they get the best treatment, regular attention and have the right nutrition so they perform to the best of their abilities. But how can we expect them to perform when we are not doing the same.  Horse riding is a sport and yes it can be a part of your exercise routine but here is some food for thought…

Did You Know?

You may be thinking ‘well riding my horse alone is enough exercise’, however, did you know… “Michael Phelps’ heart pumps 30 litres of blood each minute to his muscles, which is double the amount of an average human,” motley health. For Phelps to be at the top of his game, simply swimming in a pool every day isn’t enough.  He spends a lot of time in the gym weight and HIIT training alongside doing pilates and yoga to help with flexibility. This is a great example of cross training in a sport, another example is Charlotte Dujardin.

“I go to the gym probably three or four times a week, we do a lot of core strengthening and cardio…. I was always quite stiff through my back so getting strong through my core definitely helped my riding so I think if you’re a rider and you have got your weaknesses I think going to the gym and working on your weaknesses is definitely something I would advise.” Charlotte Dujardin, FMBs Therapy Systems

Cross Training

Going to the gym can be daunting . It’s not for everyone but going to the gym isn’t the only way to keep fit. There are many different ways to keep fit and the most important thing to remember is you must enjoy it!

If the gym is for you but you are not sure where to start, going to a personal trainer to set up a program best optimised for you is a great way to start. You don’t want the added cost then asking the staff at the gym for exercises. Where to start is an option and don’t forget there is always google!

If the gym is not for you there are many different types of exercise classes, such as Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Boxercise , HIIT and Spin. It’s a great way to keep fit and motivated. Some gyms will provide a class only membership to cut the cost as well. Other ways to keep fit are local park runs targeted at all abilities, fitness app such as 30 day fitness challenge. MyFitnessPal where you can monitor your water intake and calories or Apple Watch/ Fitbit Challenges with friends. If your short of time local boot camps that combine cardio and strengthening. They mainly focus on circuits which keeps the workout challenging and interesting. Find an exercise buddy is one of the best ways to stay motivated and keep it exciting.

So what has changed?

A huge amount of research has gone into both horse and rider fitness, wellbeing and compatibility. A company called EquiLaterals use the latest technology to access the biomechanics of both horse and rider. Through detailed analysis EquiLaterals can identify potential areas of imbalance in rider position or horse movement and help break the cycle that can lead to pain and discomfort. – EquiLaterals

All the gear but some idea

The old saying of all the gear and no idea may spring to mind when shopping for active wear. We are here to change that, it goes without saying if you look the part you feel the part. Not only this but wearing the right clothing makes exercise that little bit more comfortable and some may say enjoyable. Horseware have released their fitness collection. The best bit about it is you can also wear it around the yard.

Here are some bits to get you started…

Horseware Sports Bra designed for optimum comfort whether you’re in the saddle or down at the gym. It’s created with technical moisture wicking and antibacterial fabric whilst the mesh panel on the back allows for extra breathability.

Horseware Technical Light Weight Softshell is a super technical and a wardrobe must have. The water resistant jacket is made from stretch fabric to allow for a greater range of movement. It has windproof softshell allows for breathability. Also featured is the Horseware Aoife Training Tech Top which is perfect for the gym or around the yard and Horseware Gym Bag.

Horseware Aoife Training Tech Top is made from a soft touch fabric which makes this training top feel good whilst the moisture wicking fabric with antibacterial treatment creates long lasting comfort whilst on the go.

Horseware Aveen Melange Top is the perfect top to warm up in or to wear on the cooler days. It is technical base layer with both antibacterial and moisture wicking material properties to ensure you feel fresh and dry throughout the day.
Staying motivated
There are a million more ways to exercise and and everyone will find different things that work for them. To make sure you stay motivated find something that you enjoy and will fit in around your life. Don’t just limit yourself to one thing and most importantly have fun.