Body Fatigue and Target Training
When you get done with riding your horse, what part of your body is the most fatigued? Is it your arms, legs or core?
If you can’t tell, your whole body is probably out of shape. If it’s your arms, more than likely the upper body is failing the lower. Start by increasing strength in the arms by holding yourself in a plank or push up position. This targets the chest, arms and the front of your shoulders.
Below is a sequence of a plank at the top, moving down to the Mountain Climbers. Bring the knee to chest, place the foot down, bring other knee to chest and repeat for 30-60 seconds. The plank position teaches the upper body to hold itself up for long periods of time. Weekly Mountain Climbers will help you build stamina and strength in your arms and chest. Stamina in these areas of the body will give you the advantage to sit up taller during the entire ride, not just when your walking the horse.
When strength and stamina for the upper body increases the duration of self support in the saddle increases. Muscles will not fail as quickly and disrupt the core and seat of a rider. Once the upper body fails, the entire position will collapse and the rider will not be in balance to self support while riding their horse.
Do you feel tired in your legs or lower body more than upper body strength? If that’s the case, focus some time on doing lower body strength and stamina exercises. My favorite exercise to do is the walking lunges; 20 total steps. You can hold onto free weights or plates as you walk but make sure you’re doing proper form first and foremost!
The video is Steffen Peters doing walking lunges during one of our workouts. He absolutely loves to do these over squats!
Be More Specific
Let’s say you feel fatiguing in a specific area, like your thighs or maybe the abdominal muscles. You feel a specific muscle group(s) failing while you’re working on the horse. Exercise choices can be based around these areas but focus on the contradicting muscle groups as well.
A pulley system has one side doing something that directly effects the opposing area. Muscle groups that are weak can only be as conditioned as their opposing muscle groups are. Not all muscle groups need to be symmetrical to strength but rather must have proper conditioning within that muscle.
Let’s think about collecting a horse or half-halting…
Collection or half-halting the horse requires the rider’s quadriceps to engage. The backs of the thigh are more or less resting and allowing the opposing muscles to work. The front of the thighs engage and hold the pelvis steady as the rider controls more of their seat from going with the horse. The seat needs to ask for the collection by using the quadriceps to help control the lower core.
When hamstrings are short and unconditioned, the quadriceps will be flighting to engage. When a muscle is short, it’s pulling the leg away from being in the position for the other muscle to operate.
The body works as a pulley system and operates as one functional team. It’s designed to operate as a whole. If a specific area of the body is weaker than others, the body will operate slightly off or imbalanced. When you lift weights and isolate certain muscle groups, even strength within your natural pulley system develops.
Building Endurance (Stamina)
- Pick exercises that require full body movement like the walking lunges or squat with press.
- Do 30+ seconds or do 20-30 reps
- Pick exercises that isolate one or two muscle groups at a time.
- Place enough resistance to fatigue the muscle groups.
- Do slower movement for 10-15 reps.