Sometimes we can’t ride as much as we like, especially if, like me, you don’t have your own horse so you depend on the kindness of others and paid riding time outside of lessons. But riding horses is hard work that requires balance, endurance and strength, which is why equestrians are considered athletes. And if you’re at all like me, you’ve been dreaming in detail and with great longing about summer riding, showing and jumping outside…while sitting inside, wrapped in layers of sweaters and blankets, cursing the double-digit negative temperatures. This crappy cold weather has made it almost impossible to ride for much of the winter.
It recently occurred to me that I can work on my riding even when I can’t actually ride. Obviously, the best way to stay in shape and top-form is to actually ride, but at the very least, I can keep myself in shape so that when I can ride again, I don’t collapse in a puddle after 10 minutes. I did some research online for exercises that are specifically for equestrians but didn’t find much. I have the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD, so I thought, what the heck. Let’s just do this – it’s better than nothing.
Surprisingly, I think the DVD workout is actually a great fit for equestrians. It combines intervals of strength, cardio and abs, which are all important. But the actual exercises were great, too. A lot of them were done in a shallow squat, like if you were demonstrating your two-point position while standing on the ground, so I feel that it is helping keep those muscles in shape, along with strengthening my core, arms and legs.
One especially good exercise is the Dumbbell Row. Stand with your feet a little more than hip-width apart, and sink down into a shallow squat like you’re in your two-point. With a dumbbell in each hand, straighten your arms out at about a 45-degree angle toward the ground. Then pull your arms in and back, so the dumbbells are by your armpits. Straighten your arms and repeat.
My goal is to do something active every day this week. For me, motivation is the hardest part of exercise, but I think keeping in mind that I’m really working on staying in shape for riding will help a lot!
And when the weather finally gets better, I’ll be ready to hop on and get to work. I can’t wait.