You don’t need a beasting!

People have visions of working with a trainer as an all out sweat fest in which they crawl out and are unable to move for at least a week, when they inevitably go through the whole thing again. 


Any decent trainer will tell you giving someone “a beasting” isn’t hard. 


However helping someone to move better, use their body better, reduce pain and in my case improve how they use their body on a horse requires more knowledge and skill. 


I don’t want my clients to be unable to ride for days after their sessions because it’s too painful or they’re too weak. That’s counter productive, as the purpose of the training is to improve performance on horse not leave them knackered. 


Sometimes of course you may have some soreness (Dom’s) and yes sometimes the sessions might be tough but that’s not a rule for how every session will be.


Sometimes I can struggle with the fact that people expect to feel really tired at the end of a session and they may not. 


However the key to improving performance for riding is in the subtle shifts that happen. That spook they sat to, that walk to canter transition they nailed? All aided by the training process that enabled them to use their body better.


Sometimes the magic is in what isn’t happening, for example less pain. Often you don’t realise until you don’t train for a couple of weeks and you start to feel old pain patterns creep in that the training had reduced this. 


My job as a trainer is to make you better overall but specifically in relation to your riding. How you move your body as a unit, how it moves under load and how it reacts to outside forces are all part of that and that’s what I focus on rather than how much you sweat or hurt.


Building a Foundation

It is incredibly common in riders to have some sort of pain issue-we’re a broken population! Yet of course we are tough cookies and we don’t let that stop us from enjoying our sport.

Often when I speak to riders about their own exercise programme (or lack of..) I will hear things like “I can’t do that because it hurts my back, knee, ankle…. insert extensive list of body parts”. 

I get it. Exercise particularly when new to your body can be uncomfortable. However if approached correctly can improve those pain issues over time.

Weakness, instability, over use etc. Can all cause pain. So when we exercise the aim should be to build a solid, balanced foundation. 

This then transfers into every day life including your riding. If you are able to support your own body weight, have good muscular control and good endurance this makes the demands of your day much easier for your body.

What should we be prioritising in our training to create a good foundation?

Firstly as I call it “build a bum like Beyoncé “. The glutes are the biggest muscle in the body. They are fundamental to supporting the pelvis and spine which then impacts on how the rest of your body can move and perform. This is even more important if you do suffer with back or hip pain. Build a bum you can bounce a ball off and see how it affects your body-I promise it’s worth the effort 🍑.

Secondly your back. This is often so overlooked in training programmes, particularly with women as we aren’t usually after the big shoulders and lats. However as with the glutes, how can we expect our spine to work well and pain free if we don’t give it a proper support network? The back muscles are also part of our core. The ability to use the abdominals together with the back is what creates a solid core, neglecting one in favour of the other creates imbalance.

The abdominals. Not just the superficial layers that burn when you do lots of crunches. You also need the deep layers, the side of your waist and the lower abdominal and pelvic floor all to be able to work together in order to create true stability and core strength. 

I should also mention the legs, as a good set of thighs will further support the hips, and also the knees. Most glute work will include the legs though so they wouldn’t have to be considered in isolation.

This may all sound quite complicated but for the most part it just involves basic compound exercises and movement patterns. However if you do want some help in building your foundation a good coach can help you, and I happen to know one of those…..


Training for Symmetry

Do you train to improve your asymmetry?

Everyone has some asymmetry but obviously as riders we want that to be minimal. If we are noticeably stronger on one side this can affect how we are sat and how we give aids to our horse. 

As our horses will also have a weaker side, if we happen to have the same weak side we will be unable to help him out and correct him to improve his weakness.

So, how do you train to help balance out these asymmetries in yourself.

Training unilaterally I.e. single arm or single leg will help to identify your weaker side and then training it without having the other side to help out will improve its strength. 

So here’s some Lower & Upper Body Unilateral Exercises to add to your workouts.


Can you Co-ordinate?

This week riding I’ve noticed something. It doesn’t matter which rein I’m on I can’t make my hands do different things. So if I need to flex my inside rein I struggle to check in to what my outside rein is doing-usually it’s gone rogue….. hence the problem. 


Of course that causes problems as I’m sure you are aware the outside rein is vital for maintaining your horses position whether straight or flexed. 


Now if you have a similar problem , maybe hands like me or maybe it’s your lower leg that seemingly has a mind of its own; you will know how unhelpful it is when an instructor tells you to just stop doing it. Your brain is thinking “sure, yeh it’s that easy, I’ll just stop……”  It’s not that easy, if it was we’d have fixed it as soon as we noticed it!


Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean you can’t make it better.


You essentially need to wire yourself a new pathway from your brain to that particular body part and movement pattern.


I like to keep the exercises simple. 


Try this exercise to help train your limbs to work together or separately. 


Switch up the movements,moving a single hand forward or our or moving a leg back or out. The whole focus should be on what the other limbs are doing and then whether the moving limbs track the same path left as they do right in the same movement. 

These are the sort of exercises we do in my classes -Space in Wednesday 10 and Thursday 6.15pm.