We're waving goodbye to winter and welcoming the lighter mornings and evenings that spring brings. A new season is starting, so how can you improve your horse riding fitness for the year ahead? We can all be guilty of focusing on building our horse’s fitness whilst neglecting our own. A horse rider’s strength, flexibility and fitness in the saddle plays a crucial role in the horse's ability to perform. It can however be hard to find time to focus on your own fitness in between work, horses and everyday life. There are a few fun and quick things you can try to improve your horse riding fitness, we look at some great exercises for horse riding fitness below:

Exercises for horse riding fitness

Is Yoga good for horses riders?

In short, yes! Yoga is good for horse riders as it helps improve flexibility, core strength and more importantly, it makes you focus on your breathing. Not only is yoga good for horse riders, but it's also extremely relaxing, fun and when life is going at 100 miles an hour it will help slow you down and check in on yourself. Learning to focus on breathing is extremely important for riders, as it helps balance, coordination and reaction. If you're breathing calmly, your horse will too. 


Yoga also is great for improving flexibility and posture in the saddle for riders, you'll be able to get your shoulders back like never before! Lack of flexibility prevents movement in the rider’s seat, pelvis and lower back so if these are areas where you feel tension then yoga will be good for you as a horse rider. A huge benefit of yoga for horse riders is that Yoga promotes the same core position as riding and engages the core muscles which are vital for balance whilst riding. So it’s a win-win and if you're wondering if yoga is good for horse riders - give it a try to find out how it could improve your riding.

Want to try Yoga to improve your fitness for horse riding? Check out Yoga with Adriene, her videos are perfect for beginners and average twenty-five minutes in length.  

Get the right gear - the Protechmasta Power leggings are the perfect workout partner for horse riders - go from the Yoga mat to the saddle in one move.


Does Pilates help with horse riding?

Pilates improves your balance, alignment, posture, seat, focus, feel and core strength so it's a big yes from us, Pilates does help your horse riding! Practising Pilates regularly will help you develop the body control required to keep you balanced and strong in the saddle. It will also allow the freedom of movement you need while riding by improving your seat and building a deeper partnership with your horse. You often hear in the equine world phrases like "use your core", "your core needs to be stronger", and this is because every movement of the horse is received from the rider’s pelvis and like Yoga, your core is vital for balance. If you're not balanced, how can your horse be? 

Pilates helps with horse riding and as with Yoga, after just a few months of practising Pilates moves, you will start to see a difference in your fitness for horse riding, your core strength in the saddle and your flexibility.  

Support your muscles during and after Pilates with the Riding Skin riding tights - they apply gentle compression all over your legs; whilst additional support on the inside of the fabric is mapped across key muscle groups including the thighs and calves so you'll feel support in and out of the saddle.


Horse riding strength training

If like us, you often struggle to find time for the gym, fear not! There are lots of horse riding strength training exercises you can do at home and at the yard to improve your strength in the saddle. We've already looked at Yoga and Pilates for horse riding, both of these exercises help build fitness for horse riding and can be done at home with very little equipment (and often very little time!). 

When it comes to horse riding strength training, if you have no idea where to start, investing in a Personal Trainer is a good plan. They will help you understand how to use the equipment properly and to target the muscles you use for horse riding to improve your horse riding fitness. After a few sessions, you'll have the confidence to tackle the exercises on your own. You'll also be able to transfer techniques and skills learnt in the gym to the yard. Correctly squatting to pick up water buckets, food bags and small bales of hay and straw is the equivalent of a gym workout!

When we're thinking about exercises for horse riding fitness it's also worth considering how you can improve stamina so you don't feel tired whilst riding. Gym equipment such as a treadmill, static bike, step machine or cross trainer will improve your cardiovascular fitness. Or if you're a fan of exercising in the great outdoors, pop on your trainers or walking boots and head up some hills. It won't take long before you start to notice the difference in your horse riding fitness.

It's worth saying here, remember to start slowly. Build up your strength and cardiovascular exercises gradually. Start with low-level weights and walk/run intervals in the first few weeks until you start to feel stronger.


Pole Dancing to improve your horse riding

Caroline Mosley from Orange Fox Eventing is a big fan of Pole Dancing for horse riding fitness. "It's fab for strength training, I've only been doing it for a few weeks and I can feel a difference already. It is brilliant for building your core and upper body strength as well as improving flexibility which will help your riding position." 

Like Caroline mentions, after just a few weeks of pole dancing fitness, you'll start to notice a real difference in your core strength when riding. Not only does it improve core and upper body strength, but it will also help your posture, balance and control in the saddle. An improvement in riding posture and core strength could help reduce tension in the back which is vital for horse riders.

Not only will pole dancing improve your horse riding, but it's also a super fun activity to take up. You'll learn new skills and push yourself not only physically but mentally. Confidence plays a huge part in Pole Dancing, as you get more confident working with the pole and your abilities, you'll notice your confidence improve in the saddle too.


What is the best exercise for horse riding?

We hope this article has helped you see that there are loads of exercises and sports horse riders can do to support and improve their horse riding fitness and strength. Try each one and see which exercise lights a fire within. Or even better, do one exercise every day to keep your horse riding fitness exercises varied and fun. 

The most important thing to remember when exercising to improve rider fitness is to give your body a day off. We do it for our four legged friends, so remember to do it for yourself too! And if you have any old injuries, aches and pains, and are concerned about trying a new form of exercise for horse riding, consult a health professional before you start.

We'd love to hear what exercises you do to complement your horse riding.