In­hibitor #1

Horse & Rider - - Practice Pen -

You lack phys­i­cal strength. The So­lu­tion: Im­prove power and en­durance.

Even fit riders ex­pe­ri­ence post-ride sore­ness fol­low­ing a par­tic­u­larly long, gru­el­ing ses­sion. But rou­tine sore­ness means you lack muscular strength. Another weak­ness in­di­ca­tor is that you find it dif­fi­cult to main­tain good pos­ture, drive your horse for­ward, cue ef­fec­tively, or stay bal­anced in the sad­dle. Weak­ness is more than a fit­ness prob­lem if it af­fects your rid­ing; it’s a horse­man­ship de­fi­ciency.

Rid­ing strength all starts with a strong core. Your abs and lower back keep you up­right, bal­anced, and sta­ble. Core strength keeps you bal­anced in the sad­dle as your horse ma­neu­vers a pow­er­ful roll­back, as­cends a steep hill, or spooks sud­denly. Along with muscular strength, en­durance al­lows you to drive your horse for­ward for ex­tended pe­ri­ods or in in­volved gaits, such as the ex­tended trot or post­ing with­out stir­rups.

Your glutes, ham­strings, and hips also help drive your horse for­ward and sup­port your core. They’re re­spon­si­ble for the for­ward and back­ward move­ment of your leg to cues. The in­sides of your legs, or ad­duc­tors, squeeze and grip the sad­dle so you can ride with ca­dence, rather than bounce around as you trot.

Your shoul­ders, up­per back, and the mus­cles along your spine and lower back help you main­tain your ath­letic in-sad­dle pos­ture: up­right, chest up, and shoul­ders back. Proper pos­ture cre­ates eye-ap­peal in the arena, but more im­por­tantly it keeps your weight dis­trib­uted in the cen­ter of your sad­dle. If your weight is too far for­ward, ei­ther be­cause your shoul­ders are slouched or you’re up­right but with an ex­ces­sive for­ward lean, your weight dis­trib­utes over your horse’s shoul­ders and throws off his bal­ance. He’s un­able to achieve the long stride and rear-end im­pul­sion that you look for. A for­ward seat also tilts your hips down, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for you to use them to drive your horse for­ward for length­ened stride or in­creased speed. If you lean too far back be­cause you can’t sit up­right, you put your­self out of po­si­tion to cue with your legs, drive with your hips, and stay bal­anced as your horse moves.

As you work to build muscular strength, be mind­ful of bal­ance as you ex­er­cise. Your strength and flex­i­bil­ity should be com­ple­men­tary on both sides of your body, and from front to back. If one of your hips is stronger or more flex­i­ble than the other, your cues and seat will be un­even, lead­ing to im­bal­ances in your horse over time. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can im­prove your strength and en­durance at home through time­sav­ing, tabata-style work­outs. See “Sad­dle-Ready Rou­tine” on pages 64 and 66, and then visit face­ ern­work­outs for more rider-fit­ness tips. Re­gard­less of where you work­out, find a rou­tine that’s fun, chal­lenges you, and that you can stay con­sis­tent with.

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