To those who have never ridden a horse, it can seem odd to think that you would ever need a workout for what can appear to be a very static hobby. Why would we need to workout when it’s the horses doing all the work carrying us around?
Of course though, as anyone who has ridden a horse will know, this is actually an incredibly physical hobby and one that is immensely tiring and taxing. When you first ride a horse for a long time it can feel like you’ve gone several rounds with Mike Tyson, and this can eventually be a limiting factor in your ability to ride well or for long periods of time.
A workout then could indeed be useful for horse riders and might well help you to last longer on your horse, to keep your weight down for the poor animal carrying you, and to avoid being quite so achy the next day. Read on for a horse riding workout that can help you accomplish all that.
The aims of this workout then, should be to increase stamina while keeping your weight down. That means you’ll be using CV or ‘cardiovascular training’ which is any training that involves continuous exertion over a long period of time (such as running on a treadmill or riding a bike). This will also help to burn calories, thus keeping you lighter and making life easier for your horse.
At the same time though, the aim will also be to increase strength in certain areas – particularly in the legs (the thighs especially for gripping on) and in the core. Arms, pecs, shoulders and legs will also be trained to help improve control and posture and to keep your muscle strength even across the body.
Finally we will also be looking into improving flexibility which can help to minimize discomfort and help with mounting and dismounting.
Hopefully you will be riding your horse regularly (two or three times a week) and it’s important not to over work yourself and that way end up doing more harm than good. Thus we will be looking at a simple full body workout with CV that can be repeated two or three times a week, and this should keep things light.
Without further ado then, here’s what you will be doing:
- 10 Minutes of Stretches on Exercise Mats (Watch YouTube for inspiration if you don’t know how to stretch)
- Hip Abductors 2 x 10 (On the resistance machine using 70% of your maximum lifting capacity for that many repetitions)
- Squeeze a Ball Between Your Legs 2 x 10 (For those without access to a machine)
- Hip Abductors 2 x 10
- Lie on One Side and Raise Your Leg Straight Up 2 x 10 (Both sides)
- 20 Minutes of CV (Use a machine like the treadmill, the bikes or the rowing machine or go jogging/skipping. Try to mix this up to keep things fresh).
- Leg Press or Squats Without Added Weight 2 x 10
- Sit Ups 2 x 20
- Crunches 2 x 20
- Triceps Dips 2 x 10
- Bicep Curls 2 x 10
- Lat Pull Down 2 x 10
- Press Ups 2 x 10
- Lateral Raises (Raise light dumbbells into the crucifix position by your sides) 2 x 10
Using this workout you’ll be able to strengthen your upper body, legs and core to the point where you can hang onto your horse for long periods of time without running out of strength or having terrible pain the next day. The stretching meanwhile should help you with straddling, while the increased stamina and weight loss should help you – and your horse – to be able to go for longer without getting out of breath.
To complement this, you should eat a diet that’s lower in fat and simple carbs (sugary snacks like chocolate and cake), and higher in lean protein, vegetables and complex carbs (bread and pasta which will help provide you with the energy you need to keep training). There’s no need to alter your diet drastically, but by generally eating healthier and avoiding excessive snacks you’ll be able to capitalize on all your hard work.
At times it will be tough, but imagine yourself riding like a gazelle and it should help you push through those tough sets!
About the Author: This post has been contributed by Nick Anderson, who is a sales executive at Saddleworld Dural, a company that offers saddles for sale. He is an ardent animal lover and enjoys the company of dogs and horses.