Confessions of a Timid Rider,  Fitness and Conditioning

Riding is the Best Exercise

Riding is my chosen form of exercise. I’m limited on time. You know the story: work and family and chores tend to always take precedence. It’s a common theme among equestrians. After all, our passion takes a little more time to accomplish then say, running to the gym for an hour.

Oh no, we have to get to the barn, get the horse from the paddock, groom, tack, warm up, ride, cool down, untack, and put the horse back in the paddock. And, if you are like me, like to take your time enjoying every minute of it. I don’t want to feel rushed.

We ride both Western and English depending on our goals for the day (and how spooky we feel).

While I have good intentions to run (okay, jog) I find that when I have free time I prefer to ride instead.

Recently I wrote an Instagram post about how balanced and floaty my horse moves without me. Where before my goal may have been to lose a little curves around my middle, I tend to focus more on what my horse needs. If I’m better balanced after all, my horse will be as well.


The point of the post wasn’t that I needed exercise tips (although I’m grateful to those who cared to post some for me!). Rather, my point was that often horses move better when unencumbered by tack and the additional weight and more, that riding is my preferred form of exercise.

Yes, cross training is important. For me, stretching is even more so since I’ve become incredibly tight especially through the hips. Luckily, I know a great physical therapist and equestrian who I’m working on a new book with, among other partners, to address horse and rider conditioning.

Not only has Danielle at DCS Physical Therapy given Ferrous and I a mounted session but she has a series of warm up stretches unmounted and mounted to do at the barn. I plan to start incorporating these and extending my time in the saddle.

Equilab has a History page where I can see patterns to my rides and training.

Currently I spend about 30 minutes riding when I am at the barn. Much of this year focused on walk training, ligament building, suppleness, and transitions between gaits. With Ferrous having a recent flare up of his EPM he was completely unable to bend which meant stepping back from trot and canter to focus on using his body loosely and correctly. Now that he seems to be on the other side of that, I’m hoping the ground will be soft enough to do more trot work this winter and continue transitions again.

More, I want to increase our time in the saddle to 45 minute sessions. Winter tends to be a little quieter for my massage clients, so I have a little more time available to push ourselves.

I will admit, Ferrous is looking quite fit after his months off from spring lockdown and subsequent rehabilitation. He is using his body better, framing up and collecting with very little aid, and engaging his core muscles. His flexibility remains impressive and I know that I can push him easily. It’s time to push myself a little bit more.

Check out those transitions during our lunge session! I love using lunging to change direction and gait frequently so Ferrous does not get bored and uses his body correctly.

Tracking our progress with an app like Equilab will help significantly. In the week that I have recorded our rides and reviewed time spent in the saddle, number of transitions, and more I can plainly see our potential to improve. Because I’m such a visual person and tend to be goal-oriented I’m excited to start our journey using this tool!

If you are interested in receiving updates and early release information about our horse and rider conditioning book, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter below!

Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.