Not Got Time To Exercise? Join The #HorseHour Fitness Challenge

Not Got The Time?

I hear this so much when I ask people why they don’t exercise, and I hear it even more with Equestrians. I get it I do, we go to work, and we muck out the horse, ride the horse and then we go home to eat, sleep and then repeat. I have been there. When I had a 9-5 job I get up super early to muck out my horse before work and be at my desk for 8am (overalls and a hat combined with a good perfume!)So that I could ride after work, then go to the gym before going home usually to do more work as my 9-5 wasn’t really that exactly! So I would pretty much be on the go from 5am until 9pm. I’ll be honest I don’t advise it long term it was exhausting.

However, what it does show is that if you really want to fit something in you can. I also get that some of you may have children so you have added pressures and time constraints there.

What I am suggesting though is firstly realising why your own fitness is important.
If you are a fit and healthy person then all of the running around in general life feels much easier. You just have more energy to get through the day. Mucking out and carrying feed bags becomes a breeze too!

The stronger your muscles are, the better able you are to control them which in turn makes you a better rider. It also means you won’t get tired and start to lag towards the end of your schooling session.

We expect our horses to be athletes, to be fit, muscular and able to do whatever we ask, but surely your horse should expect the same from you? You should be strong enough to move with him and give clear, precise aids whenever you ride him from start to finish. That’s what makes you a partnership. You both work hard to become better together so I think it’s time you kept up your end of the partnership.

The Time issue? Well How about 10 mins per day? Surely you can find that?

Check out my podcast with Amy at Horse Hour and our Fitness Challenge.

Also Check out My You tube Channel for the videos.

And if you want to join us don’t forget to tag us in your workout pics and statuses!

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C’mon Join Us It’s only 10 mins per day to improve your riding!

What’s the Core Principle?

I’m sure you’ve heard it and heck I’ve even written about it. To improve your position in the saddle you need to strengthen your core.

That’s great advice it really is, but it’s not the whole story.

A strong core can be interpreted in many ways.

Firstly what is the function of our core whilst we are riding? It is to absorb force. In this case the force created by your horse as he hits the ground and moves off again-that’s some force! In order to do this it actually needs to be able to flex and extend whilst maintaining control. It also needs to be our stable base from which to move our arms and legs without losing balance.

So, let’s go back to the first point. In order to absorb your horses movement your spine needs to be able flex and extend? Ever see those riders with ram rod straight spines-fixed in that position in order to maintain a “strong core”. In reality they are sending all of that force their horse has created right into their spine. If the spine does not move itself cannot absorb movement sent through it-short version this is bad news for your spine long term and likely to cause you back pain.

On to the second point, if your spine is a hardened, solid core it will actually be quite difficult to create soft and subtle movements with the attaching body parts. They will also be stiff and maybe jerky.

So what to do? Well core work is still great for your riding, but I also recommend yoga to maintain flexibility and also to do core work that involves movement at the same time perhaps balance work involving movement of arms or legs –or both! It is also to look at how you breathe when your core is “switched on”. Can you keep those muscles switched on and take some deep breaths at the same time-then move an opposite arm and leg…..tricky huh? It will be worth the practice I promise!

Is Your Riding Suffering Because Of This?

You know the scenario, long day at your desk, hour commute in the car, arrive at yard, drag horse in , wave a brush at him, throw some tack on and jump on board. Now I bet at this point you spend 10 mins warming your horse up, starting slowly, bending, flexing and stretching before you move onto your planned schooling session.

But what about you? Did you do anything to warm yourself up and prepare to participate in this schooling session? Did you do anything to undo all of those hours spent sedentary?

Thought not.

I know, I know you haven’t got time to do an hours yoga before you ride!

The thing is you are all stiff, tight and hunched from a day spent at a desk or in a car your body is not primed to perform like the athlete you are! I know you don’t think you are an athlete but riding is a sport like any other – except there are two athletes in the performance and both of you need to be on top form to be your best. I bet Usain Bolt doesn’t train without warming up first so you shouldn’t either!

Just 5-10mins of movement before you mount up will have your hips relaxed, your back ready to absorb your horses movement and your shoulders and arms able to maintain a stable but elastic contact.

I know you might think you look silly but when you get on your horse and ride better than ever………….who looks silly now!

Check out this little 5 mins routine and try it before your next ride:

The Rider Weight Debate

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a nice break over the festive period.

January is the time the world is full of weight loss and health kicks. You may have also seen much more publicity recently surrounding rider/horse weight ratios. This has mainly been aimed at adults on ponies wherein the Great Yorkshire Show actually asked riders it deemed too heavy to dismount-awkward!

There have been a couple of bits of research but nothing with solid outcomes as such. Previously it was stated that the rider should be no more than 10% of the horses weight-which I think personally is ridiculous as most average sized women would have to ride a Shire Horse! More recently it was suggested more in the region of 15-20% was acceptable with over 25% beginning to show welfare concerns for the horse. I think is more reasonable but what many have questioned is the different breeds and conformation of ponies and horses.

It has been accepted for many years that Native Ponies in particular are capable of comfortably carrying weights much more than their size would suggest. Then perhaps in comparison we should consider whether a much taller horse with say, a long and therefore potentially weaker back with very little bone to the leg may actually weigh more due it is size but may not actually be as strong as something shorter and more compact? Then comes into the equation the riders seat, being that a more capable rider with a light seat would be much less strain on a horse than a beginner who may not carry themselves as well.

Anyway as yet research continues and there are no definitive guidelines on the matter so I guess we just have to use our common sense.

What I will say though is that we should consider on own fitness level and how this impacts our horse when we are riding. I don’t just mean our weight-but I think we do need to accept that being overweight ourselves is not good for our own or our horses health, but there is more to it than that.

In reality you could be 9 stone, incredibly weak and unfit and therefore your horse has to work harder to “carry” you than maybe if you were 12 stone but with lots of muscle and endurance and in turn actually had better “self carriage” whilst riding.
Secondly, in terms of health and your day to day energy levels; eating a predominantly whole food, unprocessed diet will give you more energy and you will be less susceptible to illness. I bet you give your horse the best diet you can………………….so why not you?

This January I want you to embark on that health and fitness kick to improve your riding and to have more energy to give to your horse time-I promise you it’s a better motivator than celebrity ideals. Although I am told the fear of white breeches for dressage season can be equally motivating!

And if you are like me and have a penchant for ponies rather than horses, I’ve got to get some weight off to get down to my “jockey” weight so I am below 20% of my 12.2h native ponies bodyweight-turns out the promise of riding my pony when she is backed is all the motivation I need to keep my diet on track!