For five-star level event rider Ariel Grald, fitness is all about being as inconspicuous on the horse as possible. Grald’s fitness routine realistically consists of sitting on roughly 10 horses throughout any given day, but the top-level athlete says that one of her key incorporated fitness elements has become pilates and stretching.
The vast majority of riders who compete at the lower levels of eventing are amateurs and most of them have “proper” jobs. After all, horses and eventing need paying for! Often, this means these riders work at a desk and are what strength and conditioning coach Tony Sandoval refers to as “desk jockeys.”
The USEA is excited to share this roundtable discussion from Coach Tony Sandoval and Coach Sando Training! In this video, Coach Sando is joined by Dr. Jenni Douglas from Event Fit Rider Performance, Natasha Gunston from The Eventing Physiologist, and Lisa Bauman from Om Riding for a conversation moderated by Nicole Brown of the Equiratings Eventing Podcast and USEA Official Podcast for a discussion on the topic of low back pain in riders.
When it comes to eventing, it’s not just all about the horse’s fitness. The rider’s fitness is equally important for safe and successful riding. For graduate “A” Pony Clubber and five-star eventer Sara Kozumplik Murphy, out-of-the-saddle fitness work is a fundamental part of her routine.
“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.”
“I think our bodies get used to riding and our overall fitness level just starts to plateau after a while. It gets to the point that it doesn’t matter how many horses we ride in a day, we just stay at the same level of fitness.”
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.