It may only be February, but the summer riding and show season really isn’t that far away. Even if you still have snow on the ground and aren’t able to get back into the saddle yet, you can still work on getting yourself fit for riding. Here are five tips that will help you get fit and ready to get back into the saddle.
Stand on the Stairs
Remember the good old stair trick that your first riding instructor had you do as a child? Standing with your heels off the edge of the stairs and dropping as much weight down into your heels as possible? Well, it still applies, and is a particularly good exercise when you’ve spent some time out of the saddle. Do this exercise for just a few minutes a day to help remind your heels how to drop down when in the stirrups.
Head to the Gym
To kick your exercise sessions into full gear, take a trip to the gym. Focus on strength-training exercises, as well as those that strengthen your core, such as sit-ups. Other great exercises include planking, leg squats, and exercises that target your shoulders. Make sure that you maintain proper posture while you work out.
Go for Walks on Horseback
If the ground is safe and your horse is ready to get back into work, too, then go for some long walks on horseback. Walking is a great way to work on conditioning your horse after a winter off, or after time off due to an injury. Head off on the trails and gradually increase the distance that you ride. Gradually, you can introduce trot work as your horse becomes fitter.
Can’t get back in the saddle just yet? Go for a walk on foot and bring your horse along. You can both still benefit from the exercise, and your horse will likely enjoy the change of scenery.
Fit in Your Cardio
Incorporating cardio workouts is important for every equestrian, and it will help to increase your endurance during rides. You can choose from any number of cardio activities, such as running or swimming. Try to incorporate cardio workouts at least two or three times a week. Even once you’re riding again, keeping up with your cardio workouts can help you to better perform as a rider.
Work on Your Balance
Riders can always stand to improve their balance, and your horse is sure to appreciate any amount of time that you spend perfecting your balance skills. Incorporate some balance exercises regularly into your exercise routine. There are any number of balance exercises to choose from, including using a wobble board, standing on one foot, walking from heel to toe, and more.
Putting in a little extra work now will make your return to riding this spring easier and smoother. What are you doing to get ready for the upcoming riding season?