Recently I have begin to realise that fitness is so key to riding. To be able to perform and compete, the highest level of fitness is necessary. And today, I’m not talking about horse fitness…

As riders and owners, we are so obsessed with our horse’s fitness. I know that I worry if I haven’t been able to ride or lunge and he hasn’t been put on the walker. More than one day off fills me with panic that he is going to lose fitness almost overnight.

So why is it that we spend so much time and energy focusing on how fit our horses are, when we don’t do the same for ourselves? After all, we are 50% of the team!

This occurred to me recently when I realised that I was sweatier than my horse at the end of a flat lesson. He is hard work, but I felt like I was dying and he had hardly broken a sweat! Surely it should be the other way round?

Then when I thought about it more, so many other sports require such an element of personal fitness training, but with riding it seems to be more neglected. I don’t stretch out and warm up before I climb on board (yet I make sure Cee has a good 10 minute warm up before we begin work) and then I wonder why my thighs hurt for the next two days after an intensive session!

I’ve always considered yard chores to be exercise, and yes they do burn calories. But perhaps I should increase my cardio activity and do more pilates and yoga to build my core muscles which are so vital to riding. Riding does improve with practice, but surely there are additional things I can do to improve my riding out of the saddle?

I remember when I was a little girl, I used to spend time standing on the bottom stair on the balls of my feet, letting my heels drop to stretch the backs of my legs to help me keep my heels down and stop me being shouted at by my instructor. I also remember brushing my teeth with the “wrong hand” because my teacher said it would help me to be even on both reins! Perhaps these are things that I will start doing again.

I am interested to know if anyone here has a specific riding fitness routine that they’d like to share, or any tips that may be useful to the rest of us! If so, please share them in the comments

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