In order to become a successful equestrian, not only does your horse need to be strong and well-conditioned, but also you, as the rider. Core strength is the number one necessity for equestrians of all disciplines. While both upper and lower body strength is also important, there are some key exercises to increase core strength, which therefore increases overall riding performance.
Arguably pushups and planks are considered to be the number one exercises for those involved in equestrian sports. But not just regular old pushups! When doing a workout for the purpose of becoming a better rider, one must always consider their body placement while riding, as well as on the ground. Putting your hands closer together and keeping elbows tucked close to the body will aid in working crucial riding muscles. It’s also a good idea to keep your hands in fists, rather than open, in order to replicate one’s hand position while holding the reins.
If this is uncomfortable, another option is to hold onto dumbbells while in the pushup position instead. To increase the benefits of this exercise, hold the downward phase of the push-up, with elbows close to your sides, in a plank-like position. This static hold will increase both stability and endurance in the abdominal muscles, along with other various muscles throughout the arms as well.
Lunges are also very high on the list of essential equestrian exercises. Most think of these as strictly a lower body exercise, but they do carry immense benefits for the core. The most important portion of the lunge is the pushing off portion that occurs when coming out of the lunge. When lunging forward, make sure that your knee stays behind your toes! Once down, the pushing up movement should be emphasized so that your lunges have a quick “up and down” pace. This controlled quickness will emphasize the usage of your core muscles, in order to keep the body balanced and stabilized, thus strengthening them even more.
Incorporating each of these exercises into a workout routine for at least thirty minutes and four days a week will not only increase your level of overall fitness, but will also translate to your strength and power in the saddle. Being an equestrian isn’t just about which bit you use or the type of rowels on your spurs. Being an equestrian is about dedicating yourself to the sport mentally, emotionally, and physically.