“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.”
Shelby O’Leary has been riding horses for more than 20 years, training young horses and off-the-track Thoroughbreds, competing in the jumpers, and working as the head rider at a dressage barn. It wasn’t until after she returned back from three years spent riding in Germany that she shifted her focus to helping riders from outside of the saddle.
I'm broken, like most eventers. Duct tape, bute, and get on with it, right? We, as riders and competitors, treat our horses significantly better than we treat ourselves. A few years back I was gearing up for a fun season with a nice string of younger horses when I got kicked in the side of the knee.
"If your horse had to pick a sound rider, would they pick you?" That's the question Tony Sandoval, aka "Coach Sando", asks as Nicole Brown talks to him all about the role that strength and conditioning can play, not only on performance but also on safety and injury prevention.
With show season temporarily put on hold, you may have decided to decrease your horse’s galloping, but this does not mean you need to take the foot off the gas when it comes to your personal fitness. The shelter-in-place order provides eventers with a unique opportunity to take a step back and focus on planning, self-reflection, and physical fitness. Here are 10 equipment-free exercises that you can do in your own home to improve your performance in the saddle. For a full body workout, complete this circuit three times or as needed.
A hunter/jumper rider in her youth, Courtenay Tuxhorn spent over a decade winning bike races, triathlons, and a marathon before finding her way back to the horse world in 2015 and to eventing in 2018. While she hasn’t raced since running the Boston Marathon six years ago, she maintains a fitness regimen that’s helped her and her horse find success in eventing.
In this video, Laura Crump Anderson leads us through five exercises designed to strengthen a rider's position. Anderson begins by demonstrating a wall sit, then moves on to body weight squats. If body weight squats are not challenging enough, she suggests adding a weighted object, like a bucket filled with horse feed, to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Next, Anderson moves on to demonstrating dips, which can be done with the help of a chair. Anderson rounds out the exercise program with push-ups and the plank.
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.”