Fitness is not an option. It's part of my job. Alison Sweeney

Hafl has his very own training plan. I make sure that he gets the right food and supplements he needs in order to stay healthy and be able to perform.

Me: I don't have a training plan. I only eat things that are not healthy. I do not even cook - unless you call using the microwave cooking.

Next week I will have an health check. It is part of my employer's health and benefits plan. So far so good. But what will the values and results show? There will be a stress ECG as well - me on an ergometer - no thanks! I am pretty sure that it will show that I am overweight that should be no surprise but it will probably show that I am not that fit!

I guess many riders like me think that riding is the only workout they need. Studies have shown the contrary, like for example: - also after 14 weeks of structured riding lessons under observation, only moderate improvements in stamina, back and hand strength could be seen.

There is a very good reason why top riders have a structured workout that includes going to the gym, pilates, endurance sports. Core muscles are the basis for a good and balanced seat and while sitting on a horse in a wrong posture the right muscles will not be trained. My biggest physical issue is my hollow back and the fact that I thought for a far too long time that I do not need by abs for riding - well, you do! In order to work on my hollow back I changed my position on the horse such that my seat bones are properly used and my pelvis is rolled back more.

I like following illustration to demonstrate a good rider position:


In the above mentioned study, following recommendations for horseback riders were given:

  • Stretching to develop a better range of motion.
  • Rotator cuff flexibility exercises to strengthen your shoulders and help your hand's position.
  • Lifting small hand weights 
  • Abdominal and inner leg exercises
  • Aerobics (well, I chose Zumba, sort of aerobics) three times a week (ok, Zumba is maximum once a week...)

The internet is full of useful tips and tricks also for riders who don't like gyms - me included! So, what to do? I started to investigate a bit and found the following videos on youtube for example:

So, riding will not get you fitter and even worse, it will not help you lose weight as the study in following article showed ( As well, they recommend to combine riding with other sports in order to maximize loss of calories - yet another good reason to start cross-training as soon as possible - for the sake of your fitness and improved riding!

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