Staying Relaxed

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

Learn to relax and calm your horse-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 my horse, which makes my horse tense up, too. What are some exercises I can do to help me relax?
Continue reading “Staying Relaxed”

Overcoming Knee Pain

An equestrian fitness expert explains how to manage knee pain from riding and how to avoid it in the future.

An equestrian fitness expert explains how to manage knee pain from riding and how to avoid it in the future.

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AQHA world champion Emily Harrington explains why knee pain is a common horseback riding ailment and offers ways knee problems can be resolved and avoided.

Question:

I suffer knee pain after I ride. Is there anything I can do to strengthen my knees?

Answer:

Before we look at ways to strengthen knees, we first have to understand why our knees are hurting. Some of the reasons can be one or a combination of the following:

  1. Continue reading “Overcoming Knee Pain”

The Core of Horseback Riding

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

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! Continue reading “The Core of Horseback Riding”

Riding Fit Over 50

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

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

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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

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. Continue reading “Riding Fit Over 50”

Cross Training for Riders

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

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. Continue reading “Cross Training for Riders”

Eating Right to Ride Fit

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

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

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Have an equestrian fitness question? Comment on Facebook, and we’ll work hard to find you an answer!

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 Continue reading “Eating Right to Ride Fit”

Fit for the Fall

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

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

By Emily J. Harrington

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

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? Continue reading “Fit for the Fall”

Balance Exercises for Riders

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

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. Continue reading “Balance Exercises for Riders”

Core Stability for Riders

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

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.

Continue reading “Core Stability for Riders”

Stretches for Riders

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

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

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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:

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?

Continue reading “Stretches for Riders”

Injured Foot

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

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

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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:

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.

Continue reading “Injured Foot”

Rhythm and Breathing

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

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

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

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.