As horse owner’s we spend a lot of time thinking about our horse’s fitness but how much do we really think about our own? Is mucking out, working our horses and doing yard chores really enough to keep us comfortably fit for our chosen discipline. Of course this may well depend on what you do with your horse – there’s a big difference between the fitness needed for happy hacking and completing a one day event. Now we’re no experts but if you’re looking to increase your fitness, either for riding or general well being, then here are a few ideas to consider:
- If you’re looking to start some exercise out of the saddle, that will also benefit your ridden work then why not give Pilates a try. Of course you can follow a book such as Pilates for Equestrians with specific exercises for riders, or a local class may prove just as worthwhile. Pilates can really help strengthen your core and make you feel more secure in the saddle. We’re sure you’ll notice a difference in your body shape too.
- How many calories do we really burn when doing our yard chores? Of course if you have DIY livery then you are likely to be much more active than if your horse is on part or full livery. Do we assume we’re burning more calories than we actually are and then over compensating in our diet? If you’re unsure then Horse and Hound have released this article giving guidelines to give you some indication.
- If you’re getting out of breath in the saddle then some extra cardio work might be in order. This can take place in many forms – walking, running, cycling. We also find cardio great for your mental health and clearing the mind after a long day in the office. Find what works for you whether that’s joining a gym, walking the dog or getting out running across the countryside. It’s just a shame we don’t find the saddle on the exercise bike as comfortable as one on a horse – but when there’s a will there’s a way!
- Rest and recovery time is just as important when addressing your fitness levels. Be sure to listen to your body (and mind) and not push yourself too quickly or too much. Having completed a few long distance runs, that experience has taught me that it’s completely normal to have days when your struggling even when you’re at peak fitness. Listen to what your body is telling you and be prepared to adjust your exercise plans.
- The most important thing to do is to have fun! Whether this means spending more time in the saddle or trying a variety of sports to discover what else you enjoy just go for it and have a laugh. It’s great if you can find a couple of friends to join you and have a giggle along the way. Personally I prefer to do a range of exercise to keep it varied – dog walking, riding, badminton, cycling and running keeps me busy without getting bored of one.
- If you’d like to try some new exercise but horse ownership is taking all your pennies don’t worry there are cheap options available. The gym and classes can work out quite expensive. However running and walking is free and great for getting that much needed fresh air. Why not aim to do one of the free Park Runs across the country. If running isn’t for you there are loads of fab short exercise videos on YouTube. You can do these in the comfort of your own home and fit them in to you day to day life. Why not give one a go – a few are sure to give you a giggle if nothing else!!
If you decide to increase your exercise we are sure you are going to notice a difference when you get in the saddle. Hopefully you’ll soon find you have less aches after riding and won’t be getting out of breathe after that fast and furious jumping lesson!