Even though many sports have their off-season during the winter months and horses enjoy time off, this does not mean that riders should allow themselves to lose their overall fitness as well. During the cold months it is a perfect time for riders to continue with their training and improving their overall fitness allowing them to come back into the season fit, healthy and potentially a better rider. Nowadays there are so many gyms, classes, dvds and types of exercise that you can get confused and lose the reason why you started working out in the first place. Especially for riders as they use muscles in a different way when riding that most classes and gyms don’t accommodate for this and so you then start training the muscles in the wrong way therefore potentially being detrimental to your overall riding position and ability to work with the horse. To help you choose the right fitness programme for yourself, we have researched classes and programmes specifically designed for the rider.

Pilates/Yoga – these disciplines are a great way to focus mind and body through strength and controlled movements. They enable you to build core strength and improve flexibility through a series of movements. You learn to control your breathing and focus on the task in hand rather than allowing negative thoughts to take over. Which we all know can happen quickly when riding if something isn’t going the way you want it to. Whilst going through a series of movements you are made aware of the exact position your body is in, enabling you to control movements with a higher level of accuracy. When being transferred on to the horse this ability will help you to recognise if you are sitting slightly to one side or your arms are too straight, etc. These workouts will have you working as one with your horse.

Fit to ride – designed by Jon Pitts, a Human Performance Coach who has been researching how the human body impacts on a horse’s performance. Fit to Ride offers three main areas of training for riders at riding clubs, pony clubs, colleges and for competitive riders: Performance, Confidence and Safety. Performance enables riders to become more aware of their body and what affect it has on the horse therefore providing you with the ability to use more effective aids producing a better performance. This is achieved through video analysis of a variety of movements whilst riding and providing clear and concise communication to allow the rider to see what is happening and ways in which to improve. The confidence programme tackles the issues you have as a rider which stop you from performing at your very best. The sessions corporate work both on and off the horse with weekly calls and video analysis to help monitor progress and achieve desired results. Fit to Ride’s safety programme is designed to help reduce the amount of falls that occur and prepare riders to react to a fall thereby reducing injury. The sessions are conducted on exercise balls with the focus being on the correct physical position to help your body to become familiar with the instincts and mechanisms of falls.

The Equestrian Athlete Plan – this is a complete eight week training programme designed to achieve your peak performance both in and out of the saddle. You receive day by day workouts with workouts tapering out at the end of the week to help conserve energy for competing; however weekend workouts are also provide for when you are partaking in the programme over the off-season. The programme is designed for you to help assess your posture, gain the ability to block out negative thoughts and maintain and develop flexibility thereby optimising your posture. The Equestrian Athlete Plan is the rider’s equivalent to Shaun T’s Insanity, giving you the full body workout with all the assistance behind the scenes to help you stay healthy and motivated.

These are just a few of the programmes available to riders to help them keep fit and healthy whilst riding. We no longer believe in the mantra ‘let the horse do all the work’ as we know we must put in just as much effort as we ask the horse to. So ensuring that you are just as fit as your horse is essential to getting the best out of your partnership.