Aug 27, 2020

Staying Sharp in the Saddle with Lisa Barry

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

“Exercise out of the saddle is very important because our bodies can get used to doing the same simple things in the tack,” explained five-star eventer Lisa Barry. “Horses and our sport are unpredictable, so the more fit and strong you can be out of the saddle the better off you’ll be to perform at your best when things are going well, not to mention when they’re not.”

Barry began riding horses at a young age and rode on the Area VIII CCI* (now CCI2*-L) team at the 2002 North American Junior/Young Rider Championships and the Area II CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) team at the 2005 North American Junior/Young Rider Championships as a young rider. When she was 17, she went to work for the O’Connor Event Team. Now she runs her own business, Lisa Barry Equestrian, in Ocala, Florida, where she trains horses and riders for eventing. And through it all, out-of-the-saddle fitness has been a part of her success.

“I grew up as a gymnast in addition to riding, so I was taught from a young age that strength and cardio fitness are very important to all athletes!” she shared. “For me, the core strength has helped me with my balance and ability to stay with the horses (for the most part!) when silly things happen or something goes wrong. The cardio really comes into play on cross-country for me – I can feel a huge difference in my fatigue level on a strong horse when I’m not cardio fit.”

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

It helps that Barry truly enjoys the time she spends in the gym. For many years she was a proponent of CrossFit workouts and now she attends Orangetheory classes, which incorporates treadmills, rowing machines, and weightlifting into hour-long high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. “I try to go a minimum of three days a week,” she said.

No matter how she chooses to get her exercise outside the saddle, Barry focuses on her core. “Core exercises I think are the most important,” she explained. “The more strength you carry in your core, the more centered and effective you can be, especially for us eventers that have three very different jobs to do all at one competition.”

Even the fittest riders are not immune to injury, and Barry is no different. In November, she was in a freak accident in the barn and fractured her skull. She was bed-bound for six weeks, and her recovery from symptoms of a concussion stretched well beyond that. When she was able, she began adding exercise routines back into her schedule, but she took it slowly. “The most important thing you can do when recovering from any injury is to go slow and listen to your body,” she stressed. “I went back to small workouts with light weights and lots of walking and then slowly increased as I felt I could until I was back to normal.”

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Barry’s tips for enjoying fitness work outside the saddle are to choose activities you enjoy and bring a friend! “If you need to add some sort of workout out of the tack to your routine like cross-training, make sure it’s something you enjoy or minimum that you have a support system like a buddy to do it with,” she said. “If you attempt to add something you like, you’re more likely to continue and make progress than if you add something you hate!”

Fitness isn’t all just working out, though! “I think an important addition is to make sure you drink enough water, eat as well as you can, and get plenty of sleep,” Barry concluded. “All of those things will make success in all ways easier to attain!”

If you have a unique fitness routine, the USEA wants to hear from you! Email Jessica Duffy at [email protected] with your fitness routines, stories, or advice. To read other articles about rider fitness, click here.

Apr 16, 2024 USEA Foundation

MARS Bromont Rising Returns for June 2024

The MARS Bromont Rising U25 scholarship program, administered by the USEA Foundation, is pleased to announce that up to 10 grants of up to $2,500 each will once again be available for talented young riders aged 25 and under, who are aiming to compete in the MARS Bromont (Quebec, Canada) U25CCI divisions this year.

Apr 16, 2024 Young Event Horse

Young Event Horse Graduates Flock in Droves to the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event

The Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event is just over a week away, and a slew of USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program Graduates are slated to make the trip to the Bluegrass State to compete in what is looking like an epic weekend of sport. Between the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L and the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S divisions, a total of 24 former YEH participants are set to go down centerline in the Rolex Arena next week. With the Paris Olympics quickly approaching, and the event serving as one of the final selection trials for team spots, the entry lists for both divisions are full of star-studded combinations setting their sights on big goals in 2024.

Apr 15, 2024 Eventing News

USEF Announces Defender U.S. Eventing Team for Chatsworth CCIO4*-NC-S

The United States Equestrian Federation has announced the four combinations from the European Development Tour selected to represent the Defender U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Great Britain CCIO4*-NC-S. The event will take place during the Chatsworth International Horse Trials in Bakewell, England, from May 17-19.

Apr 15, 2024 Education

Calling All Commentators: Join John Kyle at the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event

Do you want to break into the world of providing eventing commentary at events or brush up on your already-acquired skills? Legendary equestrian commentator John Kyle, who has been "the voice" of the Kentucky Three-Day Event live stream since 2014, has provided commentary for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, 2016 Rio Olympic Games, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and is contracted to provide his services during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, and so much more.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Real Estate Partner of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA