When you’re thinking about your own rider fitness do you focus on your performance when everything is going right? Like how you manage transitions, a dressage test, a round of jumps etc?
What about how you perform when it’s not going right?
How does your body respond if your horse wobbles, maybe trips, sneezes or spooks? How do you cope with a buck or a rear?
What happens if you’re out on the Cross Country course and it goes awry?
If you ever watch the pro’s out on cross country when things don’t go to plan you will notice they react lightning fast and they stay balanced still riding the horse forward.
If you watch a really good rider as their horse bucks, rears, trips etc again they stay balanced and are able to ride forward.
Have you got the strength and balance to do that?
It can be an absolute game changer. Not least because you fall off less!
Of course most importantly it makes you less likely to injure yourself, as even if you stay on you can still give yourself whiplash from an impact you weren’t expecting.
Are you stable and balanced enough to stay with your horse if he zooms off sharply? Are you stable enough to keep riding and not be dragged forward if he pulls his head down or trips?
When you can do this is you become more in charge of the outcome.
But how do you get that?
This is where I believe Strength training comes in. Being able to control more than your own bodyweight is a great way of training your body to kick in with extra stability when needed on top of a horse.
When I train clients one to one or in my strength and conditioning class we work predominantly on big compound movements that require the body to work as a whole unit.
For example whilst a Deadlift is used predominantly to improve posterior chain strength, it still requires good core activation, the chest to remain open and the shoulders to actively participate. You may have spotted some absolute bad ass ladies lifting some serious weight over on my social media. They didn’t start at those weights but they’ve put the time and dedication in to improve them and it’ s paying off in their riding with better stability and control.
We work up to some Olympic Lifting movements that require full body coordination and fast reactions whilst moving a weight. Are you seeing how this might transfer to better riding?
Maybe it’s time to up the ante on your gym work, or if you want a coach to help you get there you know where I am…...