Fit to Ride

Flexibility is key to becoming a better rider.

Believe it or not, you have to remain flexible or attain flexibility to be a good rider.

When you sit on a horse, your muscles are at work, and that's before you even get moving. Once in motion, a variety of muscles stabilize your body in the saddle. Essentially, you are balancing on top of your horse, not to mention keeping your forward motion. Those two jobs work the musculature of your body, and the nicest thing you can do is stretch it all out. In the winter, just because you are not actively riding does not mean you can take a break from stretches that release the tightness in your legs, abs, back and shoulders.

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Consistently performing these few primary stretches during a long break from riding is the perfect time to help the recovery of overworked muscles. If the muscles surrounding, or even leading to a joint are extremely tight, they can no longer support movement and get weaker. So lengthen out all those tight spots in your body with these moves. You might even go back to your mount
stronger than when you left considering a tight muscle is a weak muscle.

Make sure to keep your breath flowing during these stretches and hold them 15 to 30 seconds to really send the message. Do these every day, and you will see marked improvement in your range of motion.

Remember, as an athlete, it is perfectly normal and healthy to rest and take a break from your sport. It gives the body time to recover, rejuvenate and renew. If you rode all the time, you would never reap the benefits of rest. It is also important to introduce your body to new and different stress, or work, such as the exercises presented here. This will keep your musculature more elastic and able to adapt to the different types of disciplines and needs in the sport of riding. The body is not meant to peak and be at its best 365 days a year.

So take time this winter to introduce a variety of exercises that keep your body thinking about riding without even mounting up.

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