It might be a cliché, but January is the best time to set goals for yourself and your horse. We spend so much time making sure our horse is riding and competition fit that we often forget about our own fitness – so what changes can you make to find those marginal gains?


Get horse riding fit:

Walking – a lot of us will be out walking our dog’s morning and night, turn your walk into a power walk to get more from your time. Other little adjustments include choosing stairs over an escalator where possible and walking to the village shop instead of hopping in the car.


Cycling – this is a great form of exercise and the fact it’s a non-impact sport means that it is great for your joints. As the mornings and nights get lighter could you cycle to the yard once a week instead of drive? Be careful how keen you get; cycling increases the width of your calves and your lovely long riding boots may not fit you if you get too keen!


Find a routine – treat your fitness sessions like appointments you cannot miss, once you have gained some momentum it will be easy to keep up. If you can get a friend to join you even better – you’ll be unlikely to miss any session as the guilt of letting someone down will take over.


Have the right kit – if you feel great, you’ll perform well. Fact. It’s unofficially called the “James Bond effect” – if you look the part, act the part and feel good you’re statistically more likely to complete your workout and make it to the gym in the first place.


Set yourself an achievable goal – and build up your confidence little by little. For example if you want to improve your core strength (who doesn’t!) don’t try and hold the plank position for 60 seconds straight away. Build up steadily from 15 seconds during week one, 30 seconds during week two and so on. You’ll be more likely to continue if you feel you’re achieving your goals and seeing improvements along the way.


Try Pilates for riding - Harry Hall sponsored rider Tamsin Drew is a big fan of Pilates to improve her balance, core strength and to prevent injuries:

“I have been attending Reformer Pilates classes for two years now and have noticed a difference in my core strength and posture when riding, both within my dressage and jumping phases, I feel and look so much taller and straighter in the saddle as well as feeling less stiff after riding. I also attend Cardio Reformer which provides additional variety and fitness work, using a jump-board brings a demanding plyometric & cardio workout, jumping, kicking, lifting and rotating results in lots of sweat, burning legs, arms and lungs and increases my fitness without taking hours out of my day.”

There are a lot of local Pilates groups or free videos online. We would recommend joining a Pilates group to begin with, the instructor will ensure you’re doing the moves correctly and using the right muscle groups. Once you feel more confident do extra sessions at home to get your riding muscles firing!