Exercising out of the saddle is essential and, unfortunately, mucking out doesn’t count, as human sports science physiotherapist Ashleigh Wallace explains.

Maintaining horses, stables and paddocks may be hard work, but it’s important not to confuse yard chores with exercise.

In fact, the nature of stable duties can actually compromise the health of the rider as they put strain on our bodies.

1 – Push ups

Since horse owners tend to have very strong upper backs but weak chests, it’s important to strengthen the chest muscles. Push-ups, either on the ground or against a wall, will help with this.

Sit-ups, abdominal crunches and dorsal raises to develop lower back strength are also great for building core strength and, in turn, improving your balance when you’re in the saddle.

2 – Yoga/Pilates

When you ride, your pelvis connects you to your horse. It’s an important line of communication and also has a key role in stabilising the torso, which makes up two-thirds of our bodyweight.

Regular yoga and Pilates sessions help to redress the balance and loosen the pelvis, which makes it easier for you to hold your back in the correct position.

3 – Planking

Planks will help strengthen your back and core. Push from your hands up into your shoulder blades. Squeeze your glutes as well as your thighs and don’t forget to breathe.

To make it easier, instead of bearing the weight on your palms and forearms, rotate your lower arms outwards so you’re resting on your elbows and upturned fists. Hold the position for as long as you can (at least 30 seconds).

Meet the expert
Ashleigh Wallace is a human sports science physiotherapist and medicine lead for the World Class Programme of the British Equestrian Federation.

Find out more about fitness out of the saddle and how it can affect your horse’s performance in the full article in issue 453.

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