Private Lessons start back next week -assuming Covid numbers don’t change drastically. So time to get yourself back ready to be under my watchful eye! Rider fitness is something you can work on from the comfort of your own home, even when the weather is icky outside. Even a few minutes a day can help you become a more athletic and competent equestrian.
I have two exercises I like to do to maintain some semblance of muscle tone and body awareness for riding:
- Plank Exercise. THIS article explains the plank as well as other core exercises specific for equestrians. The core is the center of your body control and balance. Having a strong core helps to protect your back from damage, keep your hands and legs independent from the motion in your body/horse, and gives you controlled strength. Even though I have spaghetti arms, I can still stop a strong horse because I have core awareness.
- Rider Squats. I learned this one in physio, and I do find it useful and applicable to riding:
- Stand with your feel shoulder width (or slightly wider) apart, feet pointing straight ahead. Keep your knees above your feet so it is like you are straddling a very narrow horse.
- Focus on the weight in your feet and feel that the weight is evenly dispersed over the ball and heel of your foot.
- Keeping your body upright, slowly bend your knees as much as you can without letting your heel come up, and without the weight dispersement in your feet changing (this is important!)
- Now gently bend at the waist until you are inclined forward (think two point or skiing downhill). Still keep your feet flat on the ground and even weight at the ball of your foot and heel! Hold that position for a count of 5, and then bring your body back to vertical. Repeat five times, all the while ensuring you keep your weight evenly in your feet and that your knees stay positioned above your feel (lower leg should be vertical).
- You can add difficulty by holding weights in your hands.
- IF you are having difficulties, try to remember the key is to use your core and to keep muscle control. When standing up you need to still have tension in the muscles you use to bend and vice versa.
Being able to stay balanced while shifting from “sitting” to “two-point” is key to reducing how much you interfere with your horse’s balance on the flat and when jumping!
Give these exercises a try and I think you will see improvements in your riding and body awareness!