Riding Fit

The Core of Horseback Riding

April 16, 2014

To improve your endurance during the posting trot, you must first develop strong core muscles.

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Do you tire easily at the posting trot when you’re horseback riding? The answer lies in your muscle strength.

By Emily J. Harrington

Question:

I tire easily while posting the trot. How can I strengthen my legs when I’m not riding?

Answer:

Don’t you hate it when you watch someone posting along on their horse and it looks effortless? And that’s how it should be! Read the rest of this entry »

Riding Fit Over 50

February 11, 2013

Take these tips for building an exercise program that will improve your horseback riding abilities even into your senior years.

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By Emily J. Harrington

In my business, I train more people over  age 50 than not. This age group is usually motivated to recover energy they felt from their youth and keep from feeling the aches and pains associated with aging. They also have the wisdom, time and the money to invest in personal training for themselves. These men and women who come to me often are dealing with chronic pain, i.e., a weak back, tight neck, sore shoulders, or are just trying to improve their overall health. Read the rest of this entry »

Cross Training for Riders

September 17, 2012

Equestrian fitness expert Emily J. Harrington offers advice on becoming a healthier and more complete rider.

Have an equestrian fitness question? Comment below and we'll work hard to find you an answer!

By Emily J. Harrington

Looking back over my career as an equestrian fitness rider, cross training is what has kept me in the saddle.

The basic benefit of cross training is that you get the training effect of a variety of workouts without the over-use that comes from focusing on only one workout. And, yes, riding is a workout.

Nothing can replace actually riding for getting better at the craft. But it is possible to over-use muscles. With that in mind I have put together a cross training plan for any given week.  The result should be a healthy, balanced athlete.

If you ride every day, then the best thing to do is add a gentle training to your day. We all need cardiovascular training to keep our heart muscle strong.  Twenty to 30 minutes of aerobics on two of the days that you ride is

a modest amount that will add up quickly. If you can do longer than 20-30 minutes, then keep the intensity lower. The shorter workout should have an increased intensity to it. And alternating your workouts with one short and one long workout a week is even better. Read the rest of this entry »

Eating Right to Ride Fit

August 14, 2012

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Accomplished horsewoman and equestrian fitness expert Emily J. Harrington offers advice on the best exercise and diet regimen to ride fit.

By Emily J. Harrington

Question:

I ride hunt seat equitation, and I'm looking for good exercises to strengthen my thighs and calves, and a diet to help me get the best out of each ride.

Thank you in advance,

Lakenzie Read the rest of this entry »

Fit for the Fall

July 23, 2012

Riders need to be fit to stay on and fit to fall off.

By Emily J. Harrington

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There is always a chance that when you climb aboard a horse, you could find yourself abruptly back on the ground. Sometimes horses spook and catch us off guard, or we just are not paying attention, end up losing our balance – and you know the rest. The question is, how will your body handle the fall? Read the rest of this entry »

Balance Exercises for Riders

June 19, 2012

Train your body to become more balanced and flexible with these simple exercises.

By Emily J. Harrington

Become a balanced rider by riding fit!

How do you know if you are a balanced rider?

Many horses travel better going one direction than another, and the same is usually true for us as riders.

Physically, we are not the same from one side to the other. Either due to injury or what we have inherited from our parents, we are not naturally balanced. If you’re wondering about whether or not you “ride balanced,” I suggest having someone watch you who can give feedback on how you look in the saddle. If you feel weaker going one direction versus another, then spend more time working in the weaker direction. Read the rest of this entry »

Core Stability for Riders

May 22, 2012

Learn how to strengthen your core to improve your back and leg endurance while riding.

By Emily J. Harrington

My last entry addressed endurance and stamina as part of your workout plan to stay in shape for riding.

Next, I’ll look at what you, as a rider, can do out of the saddle if your back and/or legs get tired while you are riding.

I can’t say it enough:  Core, core, core! We are talking abdominals, chest and back muscles. Think of it like posture maintenance. How many of you slouch around at work and home, until you find yourself in the saddle miraculously sitting up straight like you are dining with the Queen of England? Are you slowly raising your arm?

Most of us have an imbalance of back strength to abdominal strength. Think of the front to the back of your upper body staying in constant communication. If your ab muscles are not talking, then your back is going to be doing all the work it can to keep good posture in the saddle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stretches for Riders

May 14, 2012

Accomplished horsewoman and fitness expert Emily Harrington offers stretching advice for equestrians.

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By Emily J. Harrington

Question:

Is it important for riders to stretch before or after a ride?

Answer:

How many of us have seen one of those good ol’ cowboys?

Read the rest of this entry »

Injured Foot

April 30, 2012

Accomplished horsewoman and fitness expert Emily Harrington offers advice on dealing with an injury and getting back in the saddle.

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By: Emily J. Harrington

Question:

I recently had foot surgery, which involved inserting a rod and screws. I really need to work out, but I’m not sure where to start.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rhythm and Breathing

April 23, 2012

Learn to control and recognize changes in your horse’s gait through controlling your breathing.

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Question:

I have trouble keeping my gelding going at a consistent speed. What can I do to help keep him at a steady pace?

Answer:

From Linda Benedic, co-writer of “Yoga for Equestrians

While you cannot control your horse’s sudden bursts of energy, you can control your rhythm as a rider and how you let your seat effect your horse. To have this control, you must be able to control your breathing and, in consequence, your body.

Controlling the rhythm of your breathing can improve the consistency and cadence of your riding performance.

Riding is like a dance, and rhythm is fundamental. Moving in rhythm with the horse can become simple and natural once you become capable of orchestrating rhythm through the use of your breath.

Practice your rhythmic breathing at the walk first, then move into quicker tempo’d gaits. Inhale and exhale in counts of four – breath in for four counts, then breath out for four counts. Practice this at the walk first; it seems difficult in the beginning because your focus is on yourself and the horse. Once you have it mastered at the walk, move on to the trot and canter.

Counting your breaths improves your focus as a rider and increases your sensitivity to the movements of your horse. As you build your sensitivity to the movements of your horse, you’ll know how to feel if the horse gets ahead or behind you. Soon, you’ll recognize when your rhythm is off and be able to appropriately bring your horse back to the rhythm you determine, as opposed to following the horse’s irregularities or allowing the gait to become inconsistent.

Staying Relaxed

April 9, 2012

Learn to relax and calm your showing nerves with yoga breathing exercises.

Are you a nervous rider? Try this four-step yoga breathing exercise from your saddle.

Question:

I get really nervous before I show, which makes my horse tense up, too. What are some exercises I can do to help me relax?
Read the rest of this entry »

Staying Fit to Ride

March 13, 2012

Accomplished horsewoman and fitness expert Emily Harrington offers advice for staying in shape even when you can’t get to the barn.

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Have an equestrian fitness question? Comment below, and we'll work hard to find you an answer!

By Emily J. Harrington

Question:

If I can’t make it to the barn to ride, what can I do at the gym to stay in shape for riding?

Answer:

As a rider, you are an athlete. Although nothing can replace riding for perfecting your ability in the saddle, there is a lot you can accomplish without your four-legged friend.

Ask yourself what your weaknesses are in the saddle. Is it your overall endurance or stamina? Do your legs or back become tired while you are riding? How is your balance? Are you riding centered?

Read the rest of this entry »