This article was written by
Sara Ostrand, Owner/Personal Trainer at Riding Strong Fitness LTD.
How many times have you been told that horseback riding is not a sport?
And, how many times have you promptly rolled your eyes at that remark? Anyone who has spent some time in the horse industry knows how physically demanding anything involved with horses can be. From hiking to catch your horse in the far pasture to riding a difficult pattern in the show pen, working with horses can test the human body to its fullest limits.
We can prepare ourselves to be fit to ride by following a routine of resistance/strength training, cardiovascular training and proper nutrition. As someone who runs a personal training business that is geared to those that ride horses, I have found 3 common traits that, when developed, help equestrians. Those 3 traits include; posterior chain strength, core/trunk strength, and cardiovascular endurance.
The posterior chain is a fancy way of saying the muscles along the back of the body. In today’s day and age, we spend a lot of time hunched over: at the computer, driving, on the phone, etc. By being in a hunched over position we shorten the muscles in the front of the body (chest, hips, quadriceps, etc) while simultaneously weakening the muscles along the back of the body (back, glutes, hamstrings, etc). From the first time we rode a horse to the ride we had last week, it has been hammered into our heads to have a straight back, heels down, shoulders back, and legs in line with the rest of our body. If we have proper strength in the muscles along back of our body, we can better maintain proper form while riding.
How often do you set out on your horse at a working trot and not a few strides later you feel out of breath and winded? Having a cardiovascular endurance system that is conditioned will make riding more comfortable when you and your horse are moving at a pace faster than a walk.
The muscles in our trunk, or commonly referred to as the core, need to be strong without being rigid. When riding, we need to have control of what our body does- specifically how our hips move. If our core does not function properly then we cannot move our hips which can inhibit our riding. Not only does our core help us ride but it will protect our back when doing the chores that are required with horses. When cleaning stalls, lifting saddles, and other movements that require rotation of the spine and lifting an object, we subject our spine to potential harm. But, if we properly strengthen our core/trunk, we can protect our spine and help when riding in the saddle.
By implementing a properly programmed workout regimen designed for your specific goals, you can be ready to ride in no time! When you take the necessary steps to get your own fitness in top form, you and your horse will be riding for many years and miles to come!
Sara Ostrand is a personal trainer and horse enthusiast based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. With experience in both the fitness and horse industries, she has developed Riding Strong Fitness Ltd., a fitness business geared towards those that ride.
For more information on getting to fit to ride, contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.