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Helpful Exercises for the Rider

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Have you ever watched an expert rider sit easily on a horse and just flow with the horse’s motion? Have you wondered how the some riders are able to get even poorly trained horses to move off their legs or stop a horse without touching the reins?

 

 

While some riders are naturally talented and learned to ride at an early age, all of us can improve our riding by develop our core strength, balance, and coordination. Unfortunately there is no magic pill that will help us become better riders. Even with the help of the best riding instructors, we benefit very little from riding lessons if we are not physically able to follow instructions. If you want to be a better rider it’s time to face the music and get yourself in shape.

The exercises listed below have directions and most of them have links to websites with video on how to perform the exercises correctly.  These exercises need to be done at least 3 times a week to make a difference.  You should also include cardio at least 3 times a week. 

Upper Body Exercises (to help with Balancing on the reins, leaning forward and keeping arms still while in motion)

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1.     Push Ups : (to strengthen chest and arms to help posture and control of muscles for awareness of hand movement)

 

  1. Kneel on a towel with your ankles crossed and your hands out in front of you, square with your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your back straight, shoulders back with your abs tight and your head parallel with your back slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor.
  3. Straighten your elbows and return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat, doing two seats of 8 – 12 reps each.  Rest 15 seconds between sets.

Push Up How To Video

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2.     Bicep Curls: (to strengthen arms to aid in arm and hand control and stillness, can either use large soup cans or 10 lb. weights)

 

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed.  Sit tall.
  2. Using an underhand grip, hold the weights at the sides of your body with your arms straight.
  3. Bend your arms, bringing the weights toward your shoulders.
  4. Hold the position for a few seconds, and then return your hands to your sides.  Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the movement.
  5. Repeat, doing two sets of 8 – 10 reps each.  Rest for 15 – 20 seconds between sets.

Tip: Keep the movement tight, controlled and slow.  Don’t swing the weights or you will lose the full benefit of the exercise.

Bicep Curl How To Video

3.     Lower Abs: (to help in stabilizing in the saddle and not balancing on reins,)

 

  1. Lie on your back and put one hand under the small of your back (this is to ensure that your back stays in contact with the floor and that you don’t use your back muscle for this exercise)
  2. Ensuring that the small of your back stays in contact with your hand, bring your knees to your chest.
  3. Next, keep your knees bent and lower your feet until they almost touch the floor.
  4. Finally, bring your knees back to your chest again.
  5. Repeat for 25 reps building to 50.

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4.     Crunches: (to improve posture and balance)

 

  1. Lie on your back with hands behind your head, elbows bent and open to the ceiling.
  2. With legs bent at the knees and feet firmly on the floor, sink the small of your back into the floor and rise up, so your shoulders leave the floor.
  3. Repeat for 25 reps.  Build to 100 reps.

Crunches How To

Lower Body Exercises: (helps with leg position, contact with saddle and posting)

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5.     Inner Thigh Lift: (strengthens inner thigh muscles to improve contact with saddle and correct leg position)

 

  1. Lie on the floor on your left side, making sure that your head, shoulders and hips are all aligned.  Prop up your head with your left hand and place your other hand, relaxed, in front of you for support.
  2. Bend your right leg and place it on the floor in front of you.
  3. Slowly raise your left leg off the flood about 8 – 10 inches (higher as you get stronger).  Try to keep leg straight, toes flexed.
  4. Pause at the top of the movement and hold, and then lower your back to the floor.
  5. Do 8 – 12 lifts on the left leg.  Then relax and do another set.
  6. Then on the other side and repeat for two sets with right leg lifts.

Inner Thigh Lift How To

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6.     Outer Thigh Leg Lift: (strengthens thighs so you can hold on tight)

 

  1. Lie on the floor on your left side, making sure that your head, shoulders and hips are all aligned. Prop up your head with your left hand and place your other hand, relaxed, in front of you for support.
  2. Bend your right leg and place it on the floor in front of you.
  3. Slowly raise your left leg off the floor about 8 – 10 inches (higher as you get stronger).  Try to keep the leg straight, toes flexed.
  4. Pause at the top of the movement and hold, and then lower your leg back to the floor.
  5. Do 8 – 12 lifts on the left leg.  Then relax and do another set.
  6. Then on to the other side and repeat for two sets with right leg lifts.

Outer Thigh Lift How To

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7.     Squats: (helps get legs stable under body; can also be used with weights in hand held on sides of body)

 

  1. Stand straight, with legs about a foot apart.
  2. Bring legs forward straight out in front of you as you squat.
  3. Keep buttocks tucked underneath you and feet firmly on the floor.
  4. Repeat for 10 reps.  Building to 50 reps.

Tip: As you build endurance, try to deepen your squat.

Squats How To

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8.     Calf Stretch: (helps with lengthening your legs and dropping your heel for a deep seat with a long, secure leg) (can be done anywhere parking lot, stairs, fences, etc.)

 

  1. Stand with your knees straight and the balls of your feet slightly pointed at each other on the edge of a 2 – 4 inch step.
  1. Slowly stretch down and lower your heels until you feel the stretch in your calves, and hold for ten seconds.
  1. Rise up to your tip-toes and hold for another ten seconds. Do this fifteen times per day until it is easy, and then increase to twenty. This will help you learn to lengthen your leg in the stirrup. It will also give you more flexibility in the saddle

9.     Shoulder and Chest Stretches (to help promote good posture and so you can pull your shoulders back)

           

Posterior Shoulder Stretch

 

  1. Pretend you have an itch between your shoulder blades.
  2. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand.

 

  1. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that you’re left fingertips can reach your upper back. Repeat for the right shoulder.

Anterior Shoulder and Chest Stretch

1.     Bring your arms behind your back. Interlace your fingers and take a deep breath to create a big chest. As you exhale, raise your wrists and pinkies very slowly, up to the ceiling as far as you can go. Continue to breathe. You should feel your chest expanding and contracting. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Relax.  Now stick out your chest while you raise the club back away from your body and hold.

2.   Repeat. Relax and shake it out!

Stretches How To (Number 5)

Thanks to Horse Illustrated

More Exercises for the Rider (WikiHow)

Fitness Secrets of Equestrian Stars