By Consistently Incorporating Stretching & Flexibility Exercises
Into Your Daily Routine, Your Body And Your Horse Will Thank You In So Many Ways!
When you think of fitness, more than likely, visions of running and weight lifting may fill your mind. It’s an all-too-common problem to neglect another essential pillar of fitness – stretching & flexibility exercises. If you ignore these two essential components for all equestrians, you’ll most likely find that you cannot and do not perform at your very best nor can your horse perform at his or her best. Stretching & flexibility exercises = successful ingredients for equestrians.
Flexibility and suppleness are essential for anyone trying to achieve wellness in general and even more important for equestrians of all disciplines, levels and ages (even more so as we “mature”). While we may not always realize it, when we ride, we place significant strain on our own muscles, tendons and ligaments. Not unlike our horses, our own bodies need to be sufficiently flexibile, which significantly aids us in our riding AND in our post-riding recovery.
Stretching exercises performed correctly can minimize injuries – everything from muscle pulls, joint problems and definitely back issues. When you are diligent and follow a pre and post-riding stretching routine, you also improve your riding posture and your overall posture – super beneficial in every way!
When we stretch, one awesome benefit is that we can gain a greater Range Of Motion (ROM). This increased ROM results in quicker, more fluid and effective aids for our horses. Proper and consistent stretching is equally, if not more important during those times when you increase your amount of time in the saddle and during the colder months when, like our horses, we riders need that extra stretching and “warm-up” time for a more comfortable, healthy and positive ride.
Correct stretching (key word here, “correct”) helps our muscles warm up and to become more flexible; therefore, we become more supple – just as we strive for our horses to become more supple and elastic in their work. Stretching and maintaining sufficient flexibility also helps our own joints and the lubrication of those joints.
Another key benefit from performing proper stretching and flexibility exercises is that our blood gets flowing through our bodies – a benefit that helps us mentally and physically!
As an equestrian in any discipline (my discipline of choice is dressage), we need to stretch our necks, arms, torsos, back (particularly our lower back), inner thighs, quads, hamstrings, legs and those Achilles tendons too! In addition, we need to stretch, open and strengthen our chest, upper back and torso area and continually strive to strengthen and properly utilize our “core” as we discussed in a previous post here.
The best part is that we can perform these easy, quick (yet essential) stretches and warm-up on and off the horse! For example, the short routine below is simple and easy to do before – AND after riding to keep your body riding supple! 🙂
Stretches For Equestrians Courtesy of Greenhawk Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Most exercises and stretching can be peformed very simply at home. Professional guidance is also available to meet your individual needs from Yoga to Tai Chi, Pilates and other combination exercise routines. If professional guidance is not an option (probably the case for most of us), there’s a boat load of videos and media out there to help guide you through all sorts of stretching and other exercises beneficial to equestrians – beneficial for everyone! And similar to a ballet dancer, the goal is to develop those longer, leaner, elastic muscles.
This is a super yoga/flexibility video for dressage riders and all riders!
Above Video Courtesy Of Dressage Rider Training, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Just as for our horses, routine/daily stretching and exercises are essential – in and out of the saddle. Again, and so essential is that only when we, as riders are elastic and supple do we then allow our horses to become more elastic and supple. Remember, our horses mirror us as riders – lol…
Correct and consistent warm-up for us is a “win-win” situation, and incorporating stretching and other flexibility/strengthening exercises into part of our daily fitness routines will do wonders for our horse’s performance and for us as equestrians. The super added benefit for our horses is that we will be making great strides in keeping our beloved equine companions healthier, happier and more sound athletes – “happy athletes!”
I use my own organic topical gel and oil that I developed before before and after riding – every day – use it for my horse too! Check it out and stay tuned for our Holiday Sale soon for email subscribers!
Well, we hope you gleaned a few tidbits of helpful information. We would love to hear from you, so please share any exercises you have incorporated in your daily equestrian fitness routine that you have found helpful! There’s always something new we all can learn every day!
Last, and certainly not least is a great video below that may be familiar for many that I use in conjunction with other stretching/warm-up exercises that offers a quick, effective pre-ride stretch for the whole body!
10-For-10 Pre-Ride Warm-up Video Courtesy Of Success In The Saddle, 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Take care and check out the videos below too! Have a wonderful, beautiful weekend and week ahead! Looks like winter is already moving right in…
The Team At HappyHorseOfAmerica.com
Below is a tad more advanced exercise combination on the stability ball – the added benefit is that it helps strengthen that core!
Rider Exercises With A Medicine Ball Courtesy Of MirrorMePR, 2016. All Rights Reserved.
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