Single Leg Training for Symmetry

Last week we looked at moving the Pelvis and seat bones in symmetry. 

If we lack control in this area it can either present itself as stiffness or as “crazy hip” I.e excessive movement. 

Both of these things can be due to a lack of stability. Sometimes when we lack stability the body locks up and decreases movement, and sometimes…..well you get crazy hip! Either way working to increase stability in the hips individually can really help to improve your ability to control the seat bones.

As we want to continue to spot and therefore improve on any weakness left to right it can be really useful to add single leg/hip training into your routine.

Single leg work will highlight whether you are more stable on your left or right (you will most likely spot a correlation with your riding) and training it on its own stops it from using the other side for help. 

Here a couple of single leg exercises starting with no equipment and you can add weights/equipment to if you want to progress them. 

Single Leg Bridge.

From a regular bridge position lift one leg in the air and continue to keep the tail bone tucked under, pushing with the glutes to lift the bridge up and down. To make this harder you could put your standing leg on a gym ball or hold a weight on your stomach.


Single leg Deadlift.

Hinging at the hip, the aim is to create a horizontal straight line with the lifted leg and your torso. The core remains tight and as much as possible keep your hips level. You can make this harder by standing on a wobble board/wobble cushion or by holding a weight in your hands. 



Nicola x

Symmetry for Success

You know when you can do something on one rein and not the other? Maybe it’s circles, leg yields or canter transitions, whatever it is it’s really frustrating isn’t it?

This is why symmetry is so important, in both your horse and you.Of course no one is 100% symmetrical but being as close as you can will be of huge benefit.

Where do you start though on trying to make your aids symmetrical? 

Try this really simple exercise (I said simple not easy….) both off horse either sitting on a chair or on a gym ball , then try it again on your horse at walk, then at sitting trot…,

Firstly locate your seat bones. If you need to,  sit on your hands to locate them. They should be pointing straight down. Now, imagine there are two buttons in front of your knees. Slide one seat bone forward to push the button with your knee. Then change sides.

As you start to do this, notice what the rest of your pelvis and perhaps the rest of your body does? Do you twist or tip more one way than the other? Does one hip lift as you move it? Maybe one side is just a bit “stickier” than the other? 

See if you can really focus on that and make them more equal in their movement. 

If you are struggling try some of these things to see if they help.

  • Try focusing on an out breath out as you slide your “sticky” hip forward.
  • Make the movement’s smaller if you have one “crazy” hip, or if you tip or tilt.
  • Focus on just the pressure if you lift or drop a hip as it moves. Aim to have equal pressure on your seat bones.

If you master this at walk, try it in sitting trot and then use the same focus to try out your tricky transition and see if it helps……..


Healthy Equestrian-No Excuses!


There’s no doubt that having horses takes up a lot of time and energy, and it can seem so all consuming that it feels like you don’t have time for anything else.

Yet, as I mentioned last week there are two athletes in your team. Your horse can be feeling and moving tip top but if you’re tired, weak and stiff you aren’t going to get the best out of him or you.

It’s entirely possible to take good care of yourself and your horse it just takes a little organisation, and also the mindset that you can change your habits…..

Eating well takes a little planning ahead, however good nutrition will ensure you have good health and also give you great energy levels which makes all the yard chores seem a little easier.

No matter how much you think planning meals a week in advance is a massive headache I can assure you it saves you loads of time in the following week. Yes, the initial habit might seem a little time consuming but once you get into it, it takes no time at all. Think about all the time spent having to pick up lunch during your day or popping to the supermarket after the yard etc. Then there’s making the decision about what to eat after a long day and you’re starving. If that decision is already made its brain power you don’t need to use.

Don’t make life hard for yourself on this. If it’s not realistic that you’ll spend time cooking it’s totally fine to use microwave veg, microwave rice or healthy ready meals etc. I use supermarket bought soup for my lunch (which I heat in the morning and take with me in a flask), I add milk and protein powder to some oats in the evening for overnight oats the next day and boil eggs for snacks or make a protein shake.

This sounds like I’ve done a lot of prep however I microwave the soup whilst the kettle is boiling in the morning. In the evening when my dinner is in the microwave I make the oats, and either the protein shake or put some eggs on to boil. It takes minutes! I also do my washing up from the day in this time-basically use every single minute you can to save time later.

If you want to fit in a gym session, decide whether you are more likely to get it done first thing or later in the day. If it’s first thing have your gym kit laid out for the morning and your back packed with your work things etc for the day.

If you’re going at the end of the day, have your gym bag in the car so there’s no excuses at the end of the day.

When I had an office job I would go straight from work to the yard-changing in my tack room, then straight to the gym if I hadn’t been first thing. It wasn’t far to go home in between but it still uses up time and it’s easy to get side tracked if you just “nip” home isn’t it?

Also have some healthy snacks in your car if you think you might get hungry and decide to go home to eat. Just some granola/cereal bars, apples (you can share these with your horse) or a protein shake can give you a little boost to keep going for that ride and gym session.

Now onto that gym session depending on your goals depends on what kind of workout you are doing but if you are struggling to find motivation keep it small and keep it simple. Just getting into the habit of even 20 minutes steady pace on a bike etc is fine-it’s a hell of a lot better than not bothering at all.

To save yourself time wasting in your riding ask your instructor for things to work on between lessons-get them to help you plan your week of riding. Again this saves brain power when it might be dwindling at the end of the week! You also might find you only need shorter schooling sessions because you go in and do what you need to do rather than just trotting around for ages until you’re both just tired.

Having horses can be all consuming but in all walks of life and areas of sport people are achieving things others can’t. Not because they are super human but because they really want it.

If you really want something you will make it happen no excuses!

Keeping up your end of the riding partnership

Often I hear riders say they don’t need to go to the gym as yard work and riding keeps them fit. 

However I listened to a podcast the other day with Alice Oppenheimer. She said she rides up to 10 horses per day plus goes to a Pilates class one night, trains with a trainer a couple of times per week, goes to the gym and currently runs 3 times per week (she’s training for a marathon). I was exhausted just thinking about this! Charlotte Dujardin has a similar routine, as do many event riders. 

So, if the professionals are riding all day and still feel like getting stronger off horse benefits their riding, surely riding once perhaps twice per day isn’t cutting it in the fitness stakes for the rest of us? Admittedly it makes you fitter than the average couch potatoe but as riding is a sport and as I’m sure you know we don’t just sit there whilst the horse does everything. That makes us both the athletes in this partnership.

I imagine Athlete number 1-your horse has a carefully managed nutrition and exercise plan….. he probably gets physio too……

He’s only one half of the equation! It sounds harsh but if you aren’t giving yourself the same care and attention you aren’t keeping up your end of the deal. Athlete 2 is letting the team down. If you expect him to give his best then surely he can expect the same from you?

Now I get that unlike the pro’s lots of you aren’t aiming for the Olympics and although you love riding you’ve got other stuff going on so the 100% dedication may be a big ask, but what about giving it an extra 50%? Say training 2-3 times per week off horse for at least 30 minutes. I reckon your half of the partnership could improve quite a bit with that, and Athlete 1 would be really happy to up their game a bit if Athlete 2 is fit enough to keep up!