Tag Archives: equestrian fitness merseyside

I know it’s uncomfortable

People assume my clients are all fit, athletic folk……..98% of my clientele is already laughing reading this!

They aren’t. They are all amazing human beings though.

So many of them were completely new to my form of exercise other than riding! Some of them aren’t even currently riding for various reasons. 

Yet, that hasn’t stopped them from stepping outside their comfort zones and starting their journey’s to becoming more comfortable with exercise. 

It’s about getting started. 

It’s about working with someone who gets it

I know what it feels like to be intimidated walking into a new class or a gym.

I know what it feels like to not be able to do something, to struggle getting your body to participate. I understand that “rest in Downward Dog” is the words of a lunatic for a while in Yoga. 

Once upon a time you couldn’t do rising trot, I bet you barely get into trot now without just rising automatically-change your diagonal though…..

So, if you’re reading this and you’re thinking you should probably be trying to up your game to be the rider your horse deserves but it feels too far out of your comfort zone just take the first step.

Go to that new exercise class, join that gym, or close the curtains and do some squats in the living room. If you can just keep making that one step I promise it starts to feel more comfortable.

Also, lots of people on that class or gym will be feeling exactly the same as you do right now but like you they were brave enough to show up.

If you’re not the exercising out of the house type then my online programme is suitable for all levels, all you have to do is sign up and press play!

New Beginning?

April marks the end of the first quarter of the year-Eeeeek! Which of course also means it’s the start of a brand-new quarter!

Springtime and Easter naturally lend themselves to new beginnings with the Farming community losing sleep over lambing and calving right now, and if you don’t have an Apex Predator Bella Cat at your yard then there will also be tiny hares hopping around your fields at dawn and dusk.

New life season means if you aren’t currently happy with the way yours is heading you can take this second quarter to act and re set those goals!

If you set goals at the beginning of the year, firstly look at those now.

How are they going?

If things need to change on those and they need to be reset start there.

If you still want to achieve those goals but you haven’t taken enough steps towards them, ask yourself why? Have you made excuses about lack of time, the weather etc?

Time to decide whether you really want to achieve it and if the answer is yes, it’s time to put in the work.

Ask yourself whether you could get up earlier, skip an episode of that box set or just be more efficient with your time at the yard-less talk more tacking up!

Do you need to work smarter not harder? Do you need to do 5-6 similar, vaguely planned schooling sessions with your horse or would 3-4 quality sessions give you better results in less time. Those spare evenings/early mornings could be spent working on yourself……

If those original goals are no longer right for you, let’s set some new ones.

Where do you want to be in 3 months? 6 months? 12 months plus?

What does it look like?

How will it feel?

What daily actions will you need to take to achieve it?

What changes will you need to make?

What will be your obstacles and how will you overcome them?

Do you want some help and accountability?

I’ve got a couple of spaces for online coaching where we can set your goals and keep you accountable every week to take action towards achieving them, navigating your obstacles, and celebrating your achievements with you along the way. Message me to get started and let’s see where you are by the next quarter!

Confidence Comes From a Body that’s “Got You”

Confidence is a big topic, and it can have many factors affecting it.

I’m not going to talk about the deep psychological stuff here,  I’m want to talk about how having a body that feels secure and strong in the saddle can affect your confidence.

If you feel like you’re wobbling around not really in control of your limbs that’s not going to fill you with confidence is it. 

If your core feels strong and your body feels like it’s reacting to your horse underneath you that will make you feel like you’re in control of the situation.

If you’ve trained your body to be stable whilst absorbing the movement of the horse, yet remain soft enough to move freely with it when the inevitable spook, buck or trip happens; you’re going to absorb and go with that too rather than execute an unplanned dismount. It’s a pretty cool feeling to sit a decent buck or a spook and barely move out of the saddle; not even the slightest hint that you were going to exit stage left. 

If you feel that you may be on a spooky horse but your body has “got you” that’s one aspect of your nerves taken away. That feeling of “I might fall off” doesn’t seem so real anymore as you’ve trained your body to cope and react to the unexpected.

How do you train your body to react and stay with the spooks and the bucks?

It starts with the basics as always. A body that is comfortable and stable using the big muscle groups during exercises such as Squats, Deadlift and Rows, then able to isolate stability during movement in core work such as Deadbugs or doing movements on an unstable surface such as wobble boards or hedgehog pods. Make it functional first, then you can add in the reaction training starting small with things like Kettlebell swings and building up to maybe reaction based games or Olympic lifting depending on what you’re into. 

As we always say- riding is a sport and that therefore makes the rider as much of an athlete as the horse. In all other sports the athletes not only train in their sport they also spend time in the gym working on their bodies as a whole; so maybe it’s time you started training like an athlete and see your confidence soar!

Are you better than you think you are?

So much of what we do with our horses relates to how we feel about ourselves. 

If we don’t believe we are capable of achieving more or of learning new skills we may never push ourselves to try. 

A feeling I often see in my clients is “people like me don’t do that….” People like who? Those at the pinnacle of the sport are still only human they’ve just put more hours into their craft than us. 

So many of us don’t feel good enough.

That’s what I like to unravel in the gym. 

Those people who can’t learn new skills suddenly taking on new exercises in the gym as we’ve broken them down into manageable steps and all of a sudden it falls into place. 

People who swear they aren’t coordinated are suddenly doing tricky left hand right leg things. Ladies who didn’t lift weights are lifting significant weights because we started small. 

This new found confidence starts to transfer to other areas. Using the same approach of breaking things down into smaller steps new skills become achievable. 

If you feel like rider fitness isn’t for you yet you feel like your riding isn’t improving maybe it’s just a matter of starting smaller and breaking down the steps. 

Working with an expert can help so if you want to get working on your self improvement today let me know! 

Easy and Hard days

I posted last week that for lent instead of giving up something i would commit to exercising every day. 

What’s important to remember though is not every workout needs to be go hard or go home. In fact none of them have to be if that’s not your style.

My goal of fitness is to be an all rounder. To have a functional, adaptable body, with good motor control and awareness that can cope with the demands I place on it. That may be riding, yard work, dog agility or something fun I’ve never tried before. 

That doesn’t come from one set of specific exercises. 

So in my 7 day exercise plan there will be a combination of strength, cardio, stretching, high intensity, low intensity, high impact and low impact activities that give my body the chance to challenge itself but also not overload itself. 

For me that includes X Trainer as my high intensity but fairly low impact cardio. A boxing class as high impact cardio; with a little bit of strength work in there too as there is always a circuit at the end. 

A strength workout to focus purely on moving under load for stability gains. 

A yoga workout for mobility and also mindfulness in connecting with my body and engaging in breath work.

I just added in swimming as another low impact cardio workout. 

Then in between I’ll do what i feel my body and brain needs on the day. So if I feel like jumping on the X Trainer I will, but as was Tuesday I did a 30 minute dance workout on YouTube but it could also have been a Pilates session, another strength workout or whatever I fancy based on how my brain and body feels that day. 

This mix means I can balance hard days and easy days which are essentially rest days but my body really does feel better if I move at least a little bit every day. 

If you prefer to train really hard and heavy then full rest days may be more appropriate for you with perhaps some gentle mobility work to keep you limber. It’s important to listen to your body, maybe go through some trial and error to find what makes you feel at your best. 

Whatever your preferred training style just ask yourself if it fits your goals and if it makes your body feel good and you won’t go far wrong. 

Train Hard Ride Easy

Athlete’s spend hours at training and in the gym often to compete for only a few minutes or a couple of hours. This makes the time and energy they put into training far harder physically than the time they spend competing at their sport.

Then I was speaking to a client this week who said due to the work she has done off horse she can finally feel and use her seat bones independently her riding has become easier. Although her body is still doing lot’s of things and indeed working hard, it requires less physical effort as there is less flapping and shoving etc to get her horse to listen. She’s now able to communicate with the subtle almost invisible aids.

Off horse work focusing on strength, body control and proprioception will enable your body to react with stability and sensitivity when you ride.

This isn’t strength for strength’s sake. It’s the strength to be in control of your own bodyweight without being tense. The strength to move one body part without affecting another and the strength to be sensitive to what can be felt through your seat, legs and hands.

If that’s the level of rider you want to become then it’s going to take work!

Think about this level of softness, control and sensitivity during off horse exercise-whatever form that takes.

As you Squat do you move freely down and up or do parts of it feel sticky? Can you activate your glutes and thighs but not feel overly braced? Can you react to other movements in your body or to a weight as it changes the balance in your body? Is everything moving as it should and where you think it is?

Do this with whatever exercise you’re doing.

Pilates Bridge, Salsa dancing, Boxing whatever it is. The body moves, is activated and in control but soft and reactive. If you can achieve this off horse it’s going to be a whole lot easier on horse.

I refer to my opening point-train hard off horse to make riding your horse effortless-or at least have it appear that way!

Fitting it all in

More so than ever before riders are being told they need to pay more attention to their nutrition, fitness and overall lifestyle. Of course trying to manage all that on top of work, family and a horse is A LOT!

In my job I work with lots of super busy women, often mums with full time jobs and ambitions to rise up the Eventing levels with their horse…….clearly to occupy their spare time!

These women are high achievers across the board and I actually learn a huge amount myself by training them.

So much so, I’m going to pass on some of that wisdom to you so hopefully you can become even more of a rockstar than you already are.

The most important steps are Goal Setting, Planning and Organisation.

Goal Setting. My clients that are achieving great things are very clear about where they are going. At the beginning of the year I sent everyone a Goal Setting sheet and those that filled it in with specific training clinics and events throughout the season clearly defined are very much on track to achieve those goals.

Take some time to have a clear think about what you want to achieve. Write it down and then break down the steps needed to get there.

Plan your Time: Open your diary and plan where everything fits. And I mean everything! What have you got to fit in for the kids, work, etc, when are you doing the food shop and other life admin stuff. Then slot in your riding time, what will your sessions consist of etc.

Plan Your Sessions: Don’t waste sessions. I promise, that you and your horse will benefit more from fewer better quality sessions than more unfocused sessions. So plan exactly what you will be working on in each session whether it’s an off or on horse session.

Struggling to keep your nutrition on track? Again this comes down to planning. Planning doesn’t have to mean making everything from scratch, just planning what you will be eating, shopping and preparing accordingly. If your lifestyle doesn’t involve cooking then having easy to assemble meals, pre made porridge pots, protein shakes and fruit are a great way to make good nutrition a little easier. But you need to plan to have those foods available in order to actually eat them.

Stay Organised: Each evening, check your diary for the following day. What clothes do you need (I actually out my clothes out for the next day the night before as I can’t make decision on the appropriate leggings and hoodie combo ay 4.45am!) What food do you need to take with you? Is it pre prepared if required?

Is your exercise equipment easy to get to? Is all your tack where it’s supposed to be?

Do you know what your sessions are-refer back to the plan I told you to make earlier…….

So much of it comes down to don’t waste time!

I know it can feel like a lot and that everything is a military operation but I promise if you really do want to achieve those things you set out in your initial goal setting the planning and organising will all be worth it.

If you’d like some more help with goal setting, planning and then achieving those goals I’m taking on Online only clients to do exactly that! Less than the cost of 1 2 1 face to face training but with all the support, check in and knowledge to get you where you want to go!


I was whipping cream on Friday evening attempting to make Eaton Mess; however, the cream didn’t appear to be getting thick enough, so I thought I’d failed.  Chris came home and tried whipping the cream and it started to thicken and he said I just hadn’t been whipping it long enough-I’d given up too soon.

Cue my lesson the following Thursday in which I’m doing groundwork with Gwyd, and my trainer Becky tells me to wait for him to relax whilst I’m stood at the side of him rather than stood at the front of him like he prefers.  Stay there as long as it takes to achieve this. Which from previous experience could be a while. I needed to be patient.

This led me on to thinking about when people set about achieving health, fitness, or riding goals.

One week of healthy eating, a couple of workouts and a few attempts at that thing your instructor told you to do to improve your contact and yet no amazing transformation so it mustn’t be working right?

Or maybe it takes a little longer than a week or so or a short attempt to get results?

The whipping cream just required me to keep doing what I was doing for a bit longer.

The relaxation for Gwyd during groundwork just required me to stay calm and wait a bit longer.

Both of these things required consistency and patience.

If you are trying to achieve a health, fitness or riding goal don’t expect results within the first week. Just focus on being consistent with your efforts week by week so it becomes a habit and see where you are in 4 weeks, 6 weeks……. I bet if you’ve been consistent you’ve started to see the results.

If you want some help and accountability, send me a message and I’ll let you know how I can help.

Do you need to be lunged first?

I was listening an episode of the Horse & Hound Podcast earlier, which contained an interview with Abi Lyle and in it they touch upon her fitness regime. 

As well as discussing how it has helped her body awareness she talked about how it mentally made her a better rider. How the mental benefits of exercise meant she wasn’t taking all of that excess mental energy into her riding-she likened it to needing to be lunged first! Which I’m sure many of us can relate to!! 

I definitely resonated with that. I’m quite a busy person in my mind and then quite fidgety in my body so “being lunged first” helps to clear some of that brain and body busyness making my mind and body stiller to ride. 

I think it’s something we should think about when looking at our exercise regime. 

Do you need to get rid of some fizz or release tension in mind and body? For some people that could mean high energy exercise such as running or it might mean slowing things down with some yoga. 

Or maybe you need to create a little more energy in your muscles, perhaps you actually need firing up? Maybe a dance or boxing class or again whatever takes your fancy to activate your brain and body ready to ride. 

This can have the two fold affect of putting you in a better headspace; but also tuning you into your body so you are more aware of your limbs and your Seat bones and how they are interacting with your horse as you ride. 

Are you a “needs to be lunged first” or more “a few carrot stretches and you’re good to go”? 

What is your favourite exercise to do to help your mindset? 

Invest in your future

Most of my clients work with me because they want to be better for their horses.

Some work with me for aesthetic reasons.

However there are some very important reasons we should all be doing some form of resistance training, and that is as an investment in your future health.

Resistance training -that is training with weights, improves bone density which is naturally declining as we age. Women in particular are at risk of Osteoporosis which caused weakened bones. Obviously as riders we are more likely to be bashed around, fall off etc. which makes it even more important to protect our bone health.

It is also important to maintain muscle as we age. Again as young as your 30’s your muscle mass declines unless you actively work to rebuild it. Weight training encourages your muscle fibres to rebuild which slows down the ageing decline.

Frame your exercise as an investment in your future. Think about the long term and whether you still want to be feeling fit and strong and able to ride into your 80’s.

Weight training does not have to mean lifting weights, it can also mean body weight training.

Do whatever you can to find a way to make it a part of your life, yes to improve your body control for riding, and potentially as a component of changing your body composition; but most importantly to maintain your strength and fitness for your long term future.

If you want some help adding resistance training into your life Equestrian Fitness has a couple of options to suit you:

Online Programme – 3 workouts per week. 1 resistance, 1 HIIT, 1 Yoga https://www.equestrianfitness.co.uk/online-classes/

Done for you Kettlebell Training Programme


Or if you a want more personalised programme I have a couple of spaces for online training which involves me providing you with a bespoke programme, weekly accountability check ins and a monthly zoom catch up. £60. Email me if you’d like to discuss this: nicola@equestrianfitness.co.uk