be the athlete
Being out of shape and trying to ride
One of the first things someone who’s coming back to riding horses says is that they’re out of shape. We usually end up talking about how many days a week they are active and how many years/months has it been since they were on a horse. Anyone who’s stopped riding and comes back in the saddle rarely feels 100% confident in their core strength!
Most people are not physically challenged by their everyday lifestyle. Horsemen are taking care of horses daily along with riding the animals and that changes the body structure to be stronger than someone who sits at a desk all day. The body adapts to whatever lifestyle is continuous day in and day out. If one’s lifestyle is sitting around on a sofa, then the body will go soft.
So what does strength do for the horseback rider?
Strength allows the rider to secure themselves on top of a horse. Core strength is solely for the ability to sit without falling off balance while the horse moves around the arena. The core must move and turn with what’s going on under the saddle or problems in the riders seat start to surface.
Depends on the person, but when the core is too unstable, problems start to develop in their communication with the horse. Take for instance when one’s seat bone is heavier than the other, this causes a horse to move away from the weight. If a rider is trying to turn their horse but the outside seat bone is the only one down, the horse is not going to turn very easily and the bend of the horse can collapse.
When you ride horses more, you will get the needed core strength to communicate better to the horse. Instead of dropping balance to one side, the stability needs to be even between the left and right side of the seat. When moving through a turn, the rotation in the rider should be within the core and not the pelvis. Doing this will help a horse bend in their ribcage and barrel rather than drop their back or swing to the outside.
Stability in the stirrup isn’t just ankle strength or balance in the leg. It’s the overall alignment between the hip, ankle and foot. Muscles need to get strong in the legs for proper alignment to become second nature. No muscle, no strength and no stability.
Isolating Muscles on a Horse
Strength in the core when riding horses requires isolation between the body parts of a rider. To skillfully get a horse to do what you want it to do, the seat must have the ability to control the tiniest bit of pressure and bodyweight. Isolating areas of the body takes a great amount of muscle control! Riders get stronger the more they’re in the saddle but sometimes riders have bad habits that continue when they ride.
Bad habits can be broken at the gym and then transferred over to the saddle. Strength that helps a rider establish evenness in the seat will increase core endurance because everything surrounding the seat is part of the core. If one can do BOSU Squats weekly, chances are the hips and pelvis will find a better stability in the saddle! The rider will be able to isolate the lower core on a horse after practicing the BOSU Squats.