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Rider Strength and Fitness: Impact on the Horse

Biomechanics is the current buzzword in the equestrian world, but how many of us really knows what it means?

Biomechanics is the study of the structure and movement of life, and following on from a successful guest appearance at the club AGM in October, Leah Clarke came back to talk to us about the impact rider strength and fitness has on our horses.

The evening was a mixture of two parts with Leah combining theory and practical - getting us doing exercises using gym mats and balls to demonstrate what she was teaching.

14 people came together at Little Brickhill Village Hall to learn from Leah as she spoke to us about and got us demonstrating and experiencing some of the different types of fitness needed for horse riding, including:

Muscle strength and endurance Cardiovascular fitness Mobility and flexibility Balance Proprioception

Leah explained to us how each of these effects our riding, and what influences these can have on our horses - from blocking them and interfering with their striding/way of going when we do not have the required fitness, to the positive impacts they can have when we are fit.

We then went through some simple exercises that we can spend a few minutes doing each day to help improve our fitness and riding - each taking away a worksheet of exercises so that we can remember them and use these exercises whenever we want.

Leah also spoke to us about the importance of warming our own bodies up before riding. Asking us the important question: "Who has ever said 'It takes a good 15/20 minutes before I feel my horse and I are really working together in a session'"?

We spend time warming up the horse but often forget to warm ourselves up. So Leah took us through a simple warm up routine that we can do whilst tacking up, including muscle activations (specifically our glutes for seat and muscles over your shoulder blades for half halt), and cat/camel stretches for mobility through the thoracic spine so that we can absorb more of the movement in riding.

Those that attended gave a lot of positive feedback on Leah's session talking about rider fitness, and all felt more aware of their own imbalances and areas that they want to work on in their own riding, and most importantly have gained some knowledge on what they might be able to do to ride in the correct position more easily.

If you're interested in learning more about biomechanics, ridden or talk based, do get in touch on for requests and information on any future sessions we may be holding.

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