Every body is different, and different fitness regimes work differently for different people. For Canadian Olympic and World Equestrian Games eventer Kelli Temple, her preferred method of cross-training is running – specifically, running marathons.
Emily Hamel and Tyler Held met when Hamel was working for Phillip Dutton and Held was working as a vet tech for Sports Medicine Associates of Chester County. They quickly realized they had much in common, including their passion for self-improvement through fitness, nutrition, and meditation.
“Riding is an athletic sport,” stated Pan American Games team gold medalist Michael Pollard. “Every single moment you’re on the horse you’re having to respond and be an athlete, and there’s no sport that uses your body that doesn’t improve substantially by training your body to be better.”
Shelley Thomas has been a horseback rider her whole life, and that combined with her background in physical therapy prompted her to found Intrepid Wellness and work with riders to help them recover from injuries, improve strength, and get in both physical and mental shape for riding.
While discussions of fitness in the eventing world so often center around the horse, rider fitness is just as important to the success of any horse-and-rider combination. Top eventing professionals including Allison Springer, Sinead Halpin, and Sharon White all stress the importance of choosing some sort of fitness activity that you enjoy so you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
As riders, balance and core strength are key components to success in the saddle, and there are many small things that riders can do outside the saddle to improve those factors.
“Riding is hard on the body,” stated five-star eventer Sinead Halpin. “Cowboys are not bow legged and hunched backed because it looks cool. If you ride, you will most likely be injured, you will most likely ride a difficult horse, you will most likely ride defensively. Staying strong and flexible is your best defense against chronic pain.”
We feed our horses for optimal performance, spend countless hours practicing all aspects of the dressage test to get the lowest score possible, we do grids, we do trot, canter, and gallop sets, then place the best quality shoes and boots on our horses to protect their legs. We do all of this, yet when it comes to rider fitness few riders treat themselves like the athletes they are.
Young riders, international grooms, and four-star professionals - Laura Crump Anderson has built her life around improving rider fitness. Her clientele includes NAYC silver medalist Haley Carspecken, Sharon White’s super groom Rachael Livermore, and four-star rider Jan Byyny.
“You have a responsibility for staying fit for your animal,” emphasized Allison Springer. Much like many other eventing professionals, Springer rides multiple horses at multiple levels ranging from Connemara ponies, off-the-track Thoroughbreds, Belgian Warmbloods, and more.