Do you hear “bring your right shoulder back”, “sit straight in the saddle”, “open up your knees” during your riding lesson? And as a result, you attempt to make the corrections but still hear the same requests. Does something feel out of balance but you’re just not sure where the feeling originates? As riders, we may lean to the left, draw up one leg, or pull on one rein and never even know it. Worse yet, our horses are so used to us traveling out of balance that they travel incorrectly and we don’t know it. Improving your mind/muscle connection resulting in correct muscle memory will put you on the right track to balanced riding. Read more
Riding multiple times a week does not automatically translate to being in top condition. Just like any athlete, physical prowess is essential to success in the show ring. To effectively communicate with our partner, we use solely our bodies which require training for control. Just like a football, baseball, or basketball player trains in the gym to maintain and manipulate the ball, we must train our bodies to successfully manage our “equipment” – which happens to be living, breathing, and thinking. This training is referred to as cross-training – a fitness program designed to complement the athletic requirements of the sport done in addition to regular practice.
With that said, not all conditioning programs are created equal. Riding uses particular muscles and movement patterns different from other sports and as a result requires rider specific training. In other words, equestrian fitness programs performed out of the saddle are tailored to enhance the rider’s skills in the saddle. This type of training develops core stability, balance, strength/endurance, and flexibility/suppleness while improving seat/posture, aids/cues, muscle imbalances, body
You may be wondering why training out of the saddle helps you become a better rider and saddle time is not enough. In two words, muscle memory. Muscle memory occurs when your body has repeated a movement so many times that you no longer need to think consciously about how to make it happen. Your muscles simply know what they need to do. We build muscle memory by repetition. This can work for and against a rider depending on the situation. this type of movement and unless you break the pattern it will continue.
Prescribing a set of floor exercises that introduces lack of stability across the body forces you to maintain a neutral spine and squared-up shoulders and hips in spite of disturbances. Now, the next time you climb in the saddle, your body is used to staying stable in an unstable environment and you are quieter and able to keep your balance without much movement. You have trained your muscles through repetition on the ground to improve your riding in the saddle.