Simple but Effective

Last week I talked about planning your winter training. Clearly just in time as the weather changed almost overnight to solid wind and rain!

Following on from that I wanted to give you some really simple starting points for your training.

So I’ve put together 3 routines of just 3 exercises.

One for at home with no equipment.

Another that can be done with a Dumbbell or Kettlebell either at home or in the gym

A third with a Barbell, so for those of you who either have a home gym or train at the gym and are happy using a Barbell.

You can do 3-4 sets of 8-10 of each exercise as a base of your workout then add in other work around it that may be some cardio, maybe some specific stability work or whatever else you want to focus on. Or of course it could be done as a stand alone workout for short and sweet that covers the whole body. Simple but Effective!

Here they are then:

  1. No equipment – Squat-Press up-Thread The Needle.
  2. Split Squat-Bent Over Row-Windmill
  3. Lunge-High Pull-Landmine Up & Over

If you want more help with your training I’ve got a little space for 1 2 1 in person and Zoom Personal Training so send me a message if you’d like to know more!

How Are You Training in the Dark?

It’s been dark when I’ve been starting and leaving work this week, which means Autumn has finally set in. I’ve already started to think about how I’ll fit in training my ponies over winter and how I will fit that all in around the lack of daylight, weather changes etc.

That also means I need to consider my own training.

Once the weather isn’t so nice we tend to not be outside on the go as much and prefer to spend evenings and weekends snuggled up on the sofa, usually with snacks!

However winter onset is no excuse to slack on your fitness regime. In fact if you’re riding less that’s even more reason (and time) to focus on your own fitness.

But I get it, going out for a run when it’s dark, wet and windy doesn’t seem so appealing.

Of course there are certain forms of exercise that I think would be more beneficial to your riding than others. Including some resistance training and some body awareness would be top of my list. However, in reality any exercise that you will actually turn up and do consistently is beneficial.

If you like a social element why not join a class (There’s space in my classes if you’re interested…..)

If you really want to do that run, walk or cycle outside buy yourself some good warm and waterproof kit so it doesn’t feel so grim- I reward myself with a hot bath and a hot chocolate if I do this!

If you want to make time to commit to the gym you can be really tactical at improving your riding performance with weights and cardio equipment available.

And if you really can’t face leaving the house there are lots of online workouts you can do. Just a hint I’ve got an online programme that’s only £5 per month….

So, there are lot’s of options to keep yourself in training alongside your horse through the darker months. You’ve just got to find something you’ll stick to and remember that 2022 season you will thank you for your efforts!

Forward Hands

I’ve been creating some extra content for my online programme these last couple of weeks to work on our rein contact.

We started with stability work to ensure we had a solid base from which to hold a rein contact from.

Then we’ve moved on to “Forward Hands”.

Often when I watch my riders, they’re working really hard with their legs and seat but their horse still isn’t quite travelling through from the hind end to reach into a proper contact.

Then we check into their hands and sometimes it is really subtle but it’s enough; their hands are pulling back. So, asking for go with their legs and saying no with their hands! 🙈

If you think this might be you here’s a little exercise for you to try.

Sitting down, preferably on a gym ball but a chair will do.

Hold a weight out in front of you with both hands. First with straight arms and see how it feels, which muscles are working?

Then bend your arms as if you were riding. Which muscles are working now?

Hopefully with bent arms you can feel your abdominals switch on. This is where you should be feeling it when you’re riding too! Your abdominals should be supporting your hands with your hands feeling like they are pushing forward against a resistance-which is what stops you just throwing your hands forward.

So back on your horse you visualise holding that weight, your abs will kick in to support it and your hands will push forward against a wall. Keep your hands up, together in front of you and see how your horse responds……..

How long do you try for?

How hard are you trying?

How much time do you put in?

Ok, so this one comes from both my recent horse training experiences and from years of both my own training and training other people-both on and off horse.

How much time do you give to trying something before you give up.

Try it once, decide it’s too hard and don’t bother again?

Give it a couple of goes and if you don’t get it properly then give up?

Or do you keep trying, hopefully making tiny incremental gains along the way, so that one day a little in the future you have got it?

It’s something I’ve had to do with pony training recently with both Gwydion and Panda, but if you’ve seen my other social media you’ll see that Panda has gone from scared, aggressive and Panda to a little scritch obsessed sweetie finally learning the arena isn’t a scary place. Gwydion has gone from being a total anxious wreck just being tied up to having a rider on his back again, and I can assure you that even a few months ago I wasn’t sure we’d be getting there! But I just kept chipping away……along with some tears and tantrums!

The same goes for riding. I’ve had new things taught to me that I’ve really not been able to get the hang of the first few goes but I’ll just keep chipping away and eventually it clicks. It might take days, weeks or even months but I’ll keep trying.

Then with my training, there are loads of exercises that I couldn’t do at first. Olympic lifting definitely a case in point! You didn’t lift heavy on your first session, you start low and add a little more as you get stronger.

When I’m training clients whether that’s on or off horse often they can get frustrated and want to give up when they try something for the first time and it’s hard. But you didn’t learn to ride in your first lesson did you? If you want to keep getting better you’ve got to keep pushing yourself to do things that seem hard at first.

Just think if you started exercising now and did a couple of session a week, you might feel useless at first. It might not immediately fix all the problems you thought it was -you don’t stabilise your seat in 1 Pliates class!

However if you just keep turning up and leaning into that uncomfortable place where it feels like you can’t quite do it and aiming to get just a little bit better each time; you may well just look back in a few months time and not be able to believe how far you’ve come.

Are You Present?

I want to talk to you about being present, in the zone of whatever you call it.

It’s not just a skill we should practice whilst riding but also on the ground with our horses; and as I’ll go on to discuss other times too!

This is something I’ve had to really focus on lately as my Fell pony Gwydion really requires this from me as we’ve restarted him with groundwork. If I’m not fully present and in control of my energy and emotions he isn’t engaging in the process. Basically, I’m all in or he’s all out. It’s been frustrating but it’s an important lesson to learn.

When riding we should be fully present, not just in what we’re asking the horse to do, but also how our horse feels and how our own body feels.

Being able to tune into how your body feels and moves as you ride is a skill that takes practice. As does being able to feel how your horse responds to your own movements as sometimes these can be really subtle.

This is why I suggest mastering it off horse first.

Of course, there’s practicing it whilst doing ground work with your horse, if that’s something you do together. In fact it’s a great way of testing out how you can change your energy by changing your body language; can you back your horse up or move him sideways with just a change in your body language and movement but without actually touching him? Can you get him to stand still doing this?

However, I’m a fitness professional so let’s look at this from an exercise perspective.

If you can learn to fully focus on your body, it’s movements and how it feels during exercise this will tell you a lot about your body. Being on the ground means you can fully focus on your body without the complication of the wild animal with a mind of its own.

If I ask someone to move, then ask them to check in with what they’re actually doing often they’ve no idea they weren’t fully engaging all the muscles required.

If I ask if they have equal weight in the feet, are their shoulders level, can they feel their abs engage etc. They often need to really concentrate when they do this.

Then when we move onto a riding specific exercise and I ask them if they can now feel their abs, back, outer hip etc. they may be surprised to find these muscles are supposed to be involved!

Are you fully present when you ride? Do you focus on the muscles you should be using, how it feels, how your horse reacts and how your energy and body language can change that?

Give it a go both on and off horse and see if it changes some things for you. I’d love to know if it does.