In the coming days once again I’ll be addressing fitness for your horse, whether you compete or just ride for pleasure on the local trails, but I thought I would begin by talking about getting YOU fit, as the rider.
We all know, if we spend any amount of time in the saddle at all, that it takes some stamina and pretty decent muscles in order to comfortably ride for any length of time. A lot of us also don’t go to the gym, so our workout options are somewhat limited.
Aside from just telling you to go join the local 24 Hour Fitness (if you happen to have one close by -- we don’t!), I’m going to give you some tips on how to go about increasing your ability to ride for longer periods of time without breaking the bank or physically falling apart (which is what we’re trying to avoid here!).
There are plenty of things horse owners, at least those who have their horses at home and must take care of them, have to do on a daily basis which can immensely help us get in shape and stay fit. Stall cleaning, for one, is great exercise! Lifting those manure forks and rakes and pushing that wheelbarrow is good exercise. So is hauling hay, carrying feed buckets or even grooming your horse. Unloading hay from your truck and stacking it? Great way to build your arms and work on those abs!
It can actually be fun to see how many things within a normal day you can do to help further your cause of getting in shape, and kind of chart your progress. If you have specific “trouble areas” (like we all do), you can look for more things to do around the ranch which will help you tone them.
But seriously, it is good exercise, as is actually getting on your horse and riding.
You might be asking, why do you really need to be in good shape to ride your horse? Well, you might want to ask yourself that question again after you get back from that first three hour trail ride with your friends in the Springtime. Ouch! Even those of us who ride horses for a living, often riding many horses per day, have to stay in shape for the activity, and how do you think we manage? I know I don’t have time to run across town to the gym, so it works in my favor that I do a job that’s physically demanding.
Believe me, by late Spring or early Summer, you will be thanking me for covering this subject, even if it seems silly about now! :)