Horse riders are a dedicated bunch and they often place their horses and their riding activities as their number one priority. They regularly seek out lessons, they invest in good quality tack and equipment and they manage their horses nutrition meticulously. However, the often glaringly obvious oversight is their lack of attention, focus and/or dedication to their own physical capacity and performance and the role that plays in not only their horses performance but also in their overall enjoyment of their equestrian activities.
Horse riding is an athletic activity and to do it well requires a great deal of stamina, strength, agility, flexibility, balance and feel to name just a few. Just the act of riding in its own right provides quite a workout, however there are large benefits to be gained by supplementing your riding with a strength and conditioning programme. Quite simply, if you want to be a better rider and have more fun and success riding, then not only do you need to practice your craft, you need to become a better athlete.
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning programme that deliberately attempts to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. All of these fitness domains are just as applicable and essential to the horse rider as they are for an athlete of any other sport.
Much of the work we do in CrossFit focuses on the major functional axis of the human body, the extension and flexion of the hips and extension, flexion, and rotation of the torso or trunk. We endeavour to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity. As a rider you know the importance of the core and you experience the impact of this concept of core to extremity every single time you ride. It determines your ability to be an effective yet invisible rider. For example, maintaining an independent seat, developing feel, your ability to control your hand and leg position, your ability to balance and follow the horses movement, your ability to influence the carriage of the horse etc are all determined by how well you are able to recruit your muscles from your core to extremities. Riding is far more than just passively sitting on your backside like a sack of potatoes!
Without a doubt you need to ride frequently to get better at the skill of riding. However supplementing your skill work with non-sport specific training such as that presented by a core strength and conditioning programme like CrossFit will pay large dividends for your equestrian performance and your overall health and wellness. And your horse will also thank-you for it!
If you’d like to find out more about how CrossFit Flourish can help you to become a better rider then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We already have a number of dedicated horse riders in our midst :) To find out how to get started on your own journey towards improved rider fitness, please visit our Get Started page.
References: The CrossFit Journal - Foundations: https://www.crossfit.com/cf-download/Foundations.pdf