When I’m training equestrians I try as much as possible to include full body exercises. Much as people like to say we just sit there any rider knows that to “just sit there” requires a lot of effort from your body.
When I discuss the foundations of a an effective rider it comes down to stable seat, shoulders and core. These areas need to be able to function alone and together effectively in order to have a good seat and hands that give clear, concise aids. So it makes sense to train this way off horse.
A basic squat actually involves all of these elements in order to do it well. If you’re new to exercise/squatting take your feet hip width apart, turn your toes out slightly. Keep your heels on the floor, your chest up and open and squat down to at least 90 degrees with your thighs. Push back up to standing in the same form. To do that well took some effort right?
Obviously legs and bum were used for the squat, but your back, shoulders and core had to keep you upright with an open chest.
If you’re ok with this adding weight either held at the front or on your back ups the challenge more. This can also start to highlight whether you turn one shoulder as you squat or use one leg more than the other. If you’re doing it squatting you can almost guarantee you do it whilst riding!
Hence the need for the whole chain to learn to work together as the fault seen in the shoulder may not be the shoulder, it may be instability in the hip or it could be the core muscles not recruiting correctly.
Many of these elements may work on their own but together there is a disconnect. I often tell my instructor as she goes intermittently from -w“hat’s your leg doing to what’s your right elbow doing” “you can have seat or shoulders you can’t have both!” Obviously that is not the answer I just need to work harder to get everything working together but it’s definitely still a work in progress for me; and gues what? The same pattern occurs when I’m in the gym. Individually my legs, shoulders and core work fine but when asked to work as a team…….. not so much!
So give this some thought when you’re planning your off horse workouts. Look for exercises that require stability and a recruitment pattern from head to foot and see what patterns you notice, what your strengths and weaknesses are and work to correct them off horse and feel the benefit on horse.