Horseback riding is a fun and exciting sport that requires not only skill but also physical strength and balance.
As a beginner rider, you may find it challenging to stay balanced and in control while riding – it’s not as easy as it looks!
Despite your enthusiasm, you might find yourself struggling to stay balanced on the horse, and your core strength seems to be lacking.
Your legs aren’t steady, your upper body leans forward or backward, and your reins are slack.
As you watch other riders effortlessly glide around the arena, you feel a sense of envy and frustration. You’d love to be like them.
As your riding instructor guides you through basic exercises and riding techniques, you become more aware of the importance of core strength and balance.
Your instructor explains that the core muscles are essential for maintaining balance on the horse, and without them, it’s challenging to move with the horse.
Your instructor gives you some exercises to do at home, to improve your core strength.
As you continue to take lessons and practice, you start to notice small improvements.
You can hold yourself in a proper riding position for a few strides more, and your legs are starting to feel more stable.
You feel a glimmer of hope that maybe you can do this after all.
Over time, as you continue to work on your core strength and balance, you start to feel more confident on the horse.
You can maintain your balance for longer periods, and your riding position is becoming more natural.
You feel a sense of pride and accomplishment with each small improvement.
The good news is that there are some basic exercises that you can do at home to improve your strength and balance, making you a better rider.
Squats are a great exercise for building leg strength, which is essential for horseback riding.
To do a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and slowly lower your body as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair.
Keep your weight on your heels, and make sure your knees do not go beyond your toes.
Rise back up to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
Lunges are another excellent exercise for building leg strength and balance.
To perform a lunge, step forward with one foot and lower your back knee towards the ground, keeping your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
Rise back up and repeat with the other leg, alternating legs for 10-15 repetitions.
If you need support, you can hold the back of a chair for balance, and do lunges that aren’t very deep.
Now, I personally have a love-hate relationship with planks.
They’re good exercise, but it also gets quite boring to do them. So, I try to do them more often and in shorter bursts, maybe listen to an extra good song while I’m doing it to keep my mind busy!
Having said that, planks are a great exercise for building core strength, which is essential for maintaining balance on a horse.
To do a plank, start in a push-up position, but instead of lowering yourself to the ground, hold yourself up in a straight line from your head to your heels.
Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on your fitness level.
Yoga is an excellent exercise for improving flexibility, balance, and core strength.
Many yoga poses, such as the warrior pose and tree pose, can help improve your riding skills.
Consider taking a beginner yoga class or following a yoga video online to get started.
You don’t have to become a master yogi, just doing a basic yoga routine will benefit you greatly.
5) Cardiovascular exercise
Finally, it is essential to incorporate some cardiovascular exercise into your fitness routine to improve your endurance and stamina.
Walking, cycling, rowing, and swimming are all great options for improving your cardiovascular fitness.
As a beginner rider, there are several simple exercises you can do at home to improve your strength and balance for riding.
Incorporating squats, lunges, planks, yoga, and/or cardiovascular exercise into your fitness routine can help you become a better rider and have more fun on horseback.
Remember, keep it motivating and enjoyable. If it hurts, maybe don’t do that specific exercise. Happy riding!