Physiotherapist: You have really tight hamstrings.
Me: That’s funny! My horse has tight leg muscles too. I stretch them every time before I ride.
Physio: Well, are you doing your own physio exercises?
Me: … No. *Physio rolls eyes*
We all have those good intentions – equestrian fitness books (unread), an exercise ball (deflated), or maybe a gym membership (you went once – or did you?!)
I’m not here to shame you. We’re all here because we love our horses and want to be the best we can be, which includes a rigorous workout schedule to supplement our riding. Unfortunately, you probably work full time, right? And after a 9-5 day, a couple hours at the barn, fifty sit ups just somehow doesn;t sound appetizing.
Frustrated at the fitness exercises portrayed in barns (Um, sorry, but if I’m going to exercise/do yoga, it’ll be on my living room carpet, not on my horse’s dirty winter rug spread out in the middle of the barn), I tried to think of a way it could all ACTUALLY be incorporated into everyday life:
Be aware: Do you always have only your right hand on the steering wheel? Yes? Gee, I wonder why you have a “clutch” right hand when you ride…
Neck stretches: Sitting at the computer? Slowly bring your ear to shoulder, and then to the other. It’s a yoga thing. Think of all the tension your neck carries!
Balance: Standing in line? At a bus stop? Casually lift one foot off the ground a little bit while keeping your hips level. Your body constantly tipping and learning to rebalance will eventually help with your riding.
Bored doodling: Do it with the other hand. Even trying to draw simple things helps your motor control and dexterity – your horse’s mouth will thank you! PS: The attached photo is of a painting I had to do in school. I didn’t realize until I was halfway done that I was painting with my left hand… !?