If you’re a busy horse owner, you probably feel that the time you spend in the saddle and the effort looking after your horse is enough to keep you fit. We can agree that looking after horses is hard work and riding well is physically demanding – contrary to the perceptions of many non-riders – but is the effort involved enough to keep you fit to ride?
The truth is, unless you’re lucky enough to be riding professionally all day and every day, the time you spend in the saddle is unlikely to have any real effect on your overall level of fitness.
Definition of Fitness:
Being fit is not about being an Olympic athlete. The American College of Sports Medicine defines fitness as, “The ability to perform moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity without undue fatigue and the capability of maintaining such ability throughout life,” so, in other words, being fit for everyday life. Fitness in a general sense includes muscular strength, flexibility, balance, coordination as well as endurance. Take a look at the following list as an example to self-assess your fitness.
Are you able to:
- Run Two Miles in 18 minutes.
- Do Body Weight Squats – 15 to 20.
- Get up from the ground without using your arms, knees or other body parts.
- Walk up 5 flights of stairs easily.
- Do 27 Push Ups.
- Do 20 Lunges.
- Hold a Plank for 60 seconds.
- Touch your toes easily.
If not you might consider improving your fitness level.
Why Improve Fitness?
As a rider, being fit is not about running marathons. On a basic level it is about having enough energy left over at the end of your working day to enjoy the time you have with your horse. As you become a more proficient rider, it is about having the fitness to maintain the balance, strength, and endurance to connect with your horse for the length of your ride, so that your fitness does not limit the level or quality of your training or performance, to then become a more effective rider.
With that goal in mind, the next sections in this series we will look at cardiovascular fitness and offer some suggestions to get the most out of your busy life!
Check out the next article in our Fit to Ride Series. Click here!