Dr Jessica Sammut
Staying strong as an equestrian
Horseriding is a demanding sport that requires riders to have a strong and stable core, legs, and upper body. Proper balance, posture, and stability are critical for riders to maintain control and communicate effectively with their horses. While many riders focus on training their horses, it is equally important to work on their strength and fitness.
In this blog post, we will cover some of the best strengthening exercises for horse riders to help improve their balance, posture, and overall riding performance.
Horse riding requires the use of many different muscles throughout the body. However, some of the key muscles required for horse riding are:
Core stabilising muscles: The core muscles include the abdominal muscles, back muscles, and hip muscles. These muscles work together to provide stability and balance in the saddle, allowing the rider to maintain proper posture and control.
Gluteus Maximus: The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body and is responsible for hip extension, which is critical for riding movements such as rising trot, cantering, and jumping.
Quadriceps: The quadriceps are the muscles at the front of the thigh and are essential for leg control and balance in the saddle.
Hamstrings: The hamstrings are the muscles at the back of the thigh and are also important for leg control and balance. They also work together with the gluteus maximus for hip extension.
Adductors: The adductors are the muscles on the inner thigh and are essential for keeping the legs close to the horse's body, providing stability in the saddle.
Calves: The calves are responsible for ankle flexion, which is important for keeping the heels down and maintaining a secure position in the stirrups.
Upper back and shoulder muscles: These muscles are responsible for maintaining an upright posture and providing stability in the upper body, which is critical for control and balance in the saddle.
6 exercise ball exercises
An exercise ball is a great way to improve your core strength and balance as a horse rider. Here are some exercise ball exercises that can help you:
Ball Crunches: Sit on the ball and place your hands behind your head. Tighten your abs and lift your upper body off the ball. Exhale as you crunch, and inhale as you return to the starting position.
Ball Plank: Place your forearms on the ball and your toes on the ground. Keep your back straight and hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
Ball Balance: Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift one foot off the ground and hold for a few seconds, then switch to the other foot.
Ball Bridge: Lie on your back with your feet on the ball. Lift your hips off the ground, keeping your shoulders on the floor. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your hips back down.
Ball Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the ball between your lower back and the wall. Slowly squat down, keeping your back straight and your knees behind your toes. Then slowly return to the starting position.
Ball Lunges: Stand with one foot on the ball and the other foot on the ground. Lunge forward with the foot on the ground, keeping your back straight and your knee behind your toe. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other foot.
Remember -- always consult a professional before attempting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries - Dr Jess at Whole Health Osteopathy can advise you on the suitability of these exercises.
Overall, horse riders can benefit greatly from incorporating these strengthening exercises into their fitness routine, and with over 15 years of horse riding experience, Dr Jess loves supporting horse riders to improve core strength, balance and stability, whilst also understanding the significant physical demand horse ownership entails -- with no judgement!!
Focusing on these muscle groups can allow riders can communicate more effectively with their horses and achieve more harmony with their horse. Remember, it's essential to remember to always warm up before exercise. Happy riding!