Puff! Puff! Puff! Is that YOU after a few minutes of trotting? Sounds like it’s time that you started thinking about how fit you really are.
You expect your horse to trot and canter for miles, and be full of energy, but what about you? If you’re always gasping for breath, you won’t be able to get the best out of him. You don’t have to be 100 percent fit if you’re just planning to go on short trail rides, but if you want to go show jumping or barrel racing, you need to get into shape.
Reports have shown that lots of kids don’t get enough exercise. "But I ride—that’s exercise,” you might say. Of course, riding is exercise, but let’s face it—your horse is getting a much harder workout than you are when you ride him!We’ve got some exercises that will make you suppler and improve your stamina. And each one is designed to improve different parts of your body-parts that need to be in tip-top condition if you want to improve as a rider.
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing these exercises a couple of times a week. If you’re out of shape, start off slowly and build up the number of exercises you do gradually.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to work out!
1. Start with arm lifts. You’ll need a pair of light weights, or make your own by using a fly repellent container or spray bottle. Place your feet apart, with your toes turned out, arms down and back straight. Tuck in that stomach!
Slowly bring your arms forward and up, keeping your palms down and your elbows slightly bent. Then, bring them down again. Do this 10 times.
This exercise strengthens your shoulders and upper arms, so if your horse tanks off with you, you’ll be able to stop him more easily!
2. Skipping rope is an excellent way of strengthening your lungs and building stamina. You’ll be able to gallop around an entire cross-country course without wheezing if you skip on the spot at least 20 times during your regular exercise sessions.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a skipping rope, a long lead rope will do fine.
3. Grab hold of the back of a chair. Slowly raise each of your legs behind you, lifting them as high as you can. Point your toes and keep your legs as straight as possible.
Raise each leg up 10 times.
This exercise strengthens your legs so you can use them more effectively on your horse.
It also tones up your tummy so your breeches won’t feel so tight!
4. The dreaded sit-ups! Keep your feet together—hook them under something solid if it helps. Put your hands behind or next to your head and slowly move your upper body forward.
Don’t try to touch your nose to your knees, just lift your back off the ground.
Sit-ups are good for your abdominal muscles and back. You’ll be able to do more sitting trot and bend easily over a fence if these muscles are strong. See if you can manage 10.
5. Time to work those thigh muscles because they help you to sit securely in the saddle. Sit down with your legs apart. Point your toes. Stretch forward with your upper body and arms and try to touch your toes, one leg at a time. Do it slowly, don’t strain anything! Do this 10 times with each leg.
6. Running strengthens your leg muscles and improves your stamina.
After you have finished the other exercises, you should be warmed-up enough for a short run. Run your horse’s field one or two times. Remember, you’re not in a race so you don’t have to gallop around at top speed. Stick to a human trot.