Equestrian isn’t just sitting on a horse for hours enjoying the view. The equestrian sport takes laser focus, stellar balance, and optimal strength to be successful. But what exactly does a person need to do to strength train for their next show? How does strength training even tie into equestrian sport?
Having good body strength not only increases your endurance, but also helps with balance, posture, and lowers your stress levels. Each of these factors is key in reaching success while English equestrian riding. Strength training for English equestrian sport involves a lot of work on your back and abdominal muscles, as well as practicing focus.
In this article, we’ll go over each aspect of strength training for English equestrian sport and why they’re a vital part of success in riding.
Posture is Key
Maintaining proper posture while riding is key in ensuring you stay on balance. On top of that, it’s easier to communicate with your horse when you’re sitting upright and focused. Horses are among the most sentient animals on Earth and they are extremely sensitive to both physical and emotional changes.
In order to stay in tune with your horse, it’s important to maintain good posture and focus on the task at hand. If you do this, your horse will fall into tune with you right away.
Tips for Maintaining Good Posture
Good posture while riding looks like sitting straight up with your shoulders relaxed. Try not to stiffen your back or slouch as it can easily cause you to be thrown off balance once you get moving.
To help improve your balance and posture, try some of these posture-improving exercises:
- Albatross: Lay on your tummy with your feet flat on the ground. Stretch your arms out to the sides and lift your arms and chest while looking at the ground. Hold the position for five seconds before releasing.
- Bridge Glute Lifts: Lay on your back and lift your glutes from the ground. Align your heels with your knees and lay your arms flat on the floor, palms facing down. Push your hips upward and hold for five seconds before releasing.
- Single-Leg Bridges: Lay on your back and lift up your glutes. Pull your heels inward to align with your knees and lay your arms flat. Then, lift up one leg while also lifting your body and squeezing your glutes. Lower and then alternate legs.
- Horse Stance: Start in the bridge yoga pose. Lift opposite arms and legs and stretch as far as you can (right/left, left/right)
- Superman: Lay on your stomach and lift your left arm while maintaining a gaze at the floor. Alternate your arms.
While actually riding, make sure you’re sitting upright at the lowest part of the saddle. Align your heels with your hip and spine while evenly distributing your weight. Make sure to also keep your arms firm, but flexible.
Focusing on Your Back and Abdominals
Another important component of maintaining balance while on your horse is a good back and abdominal strength. These muscles are integral in helping you maintain an upright position for long periods of time. Because of that, you should focus on these muscles the most during strength training. If you want to look fabulous while working your core, you can check out these fashionable riding tights.
Tips for Working on Back and Abdominal Muscles
We know performing a classic crunch or sit-up helps strengthen our abdominals but we don’t often think about the muscles in our back. However, these muscles are an integral part of the general function of our body. Check out these helpful exercises for strengthening your back muscles:
- Bridges: this exercise helps strengthen your glute muscles, which then help aid in support for your lower back.
- Knee-to-Chest Stretches: This stretch helps elongate your back and aids in tension and pain relief.
- Lower-Back Rotational Stretches: This stretch is meant to relieve tension in both your lower back and trunk. It also helps work your core in a gentle way, which helps increase physical stability.
- Draw-in Maneuvers: This exercise strengthens the front and side of your abdominals. Along with that, it also helps stabilize your spine and your lower back.
- Pelvic Tilts: This stretch/exercise is meant to open up your tight back muscles and increase flexibility.
- Lying Lateral Leg Lifts: This leg lift variation helps work your hip abductor muscles. These muscles support the pelvis and also reduce the strain on your back.
- Cat Pose: This yoga pose helps stretch your spine and lengthen your back. This is a great stretch for pain and tension relief.
- Superman: Not only does this help your core and your balance but it’s a great posture corrector too.
- Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretches: This stretch relieves pain, works core muscles, and strengthens your lower back.
- Partial Curls: This is an all-around ab move. Your abs are integral in helping your spine as well as keeping your hips aligned.
For detailed instructions on how to do each of these moves, click here.
Weightlifting Has More Than One Use
Weightlifting, in general, is a great tool for increasing strength. However, that isn’t the only benefit it comes with. By practicing equal weightlifting to each of the core areas of the body, you help maintain your strength while also becoming more in tune with your body. That self-intuition will help you maintain focus while riding and your horse will pick up on your positive and focused energy as a result. Gear Tip: Proper footwear is essential when weight training. These Eco Trainers from Ariat are a good choice as they feature extra cushioning and a mesh upper which keeps them lightweight and breathable for even your most intense workouts.
Stress Reduction and Better Focus
Along with the physical benefits of equestrian strength training, there are also a number of mental benefits too. For starters, your endurance helps you stay focused for longer and you’ll have more energy to devote to your horse and the competition.
Strength training is also a dopamine-releasing activity. Dopamine is an integral part of stress reduction, which means regular strength training can help you stay more relaxed leading up to big events.
Equestrian strength training is important for any horseback rider to practice. Not only will it make you stronger, in general, but you’re going to be much better equipped during competitions and events than if you had minimal strength training.
Whether you choose to do some of the exercises mentioned here or an entirely different regimen, we hope this article has been helpful for you!