As riders we invest our time and money into improving our horses. However, many of us overlook rider mobility – key to improving riding position.
Pilates is an excellent way of improving core strength, which helps to correct position and improve stability in the saddle. Although pilates sessions aimed at equestrians are available they’re often infrequent – we also appreciate that many equestrians don’t have the time to attend classes in person; we’ve put together three easy pre-ride exercises to help improve rider mobility, reducing your chances of injury in the saddle.
Before carrying out any of the exercises described below ensure you’re sufficiently warmed up.
Hamstring and calf stretches
Begin by crossing your left leg over your right, ensuring that your right leg remains straight and that your left leg is slightly bent at the knee. Next reach your hands down towards your toes, bending over at your hips. You will feel a stretch developing in your hamstring and calf which will help your legs to sit relaxed and for longer in the saddle.
Repeat this exercise on the opposite side by bending your right leg at the knee, and straightening your left leg. Aim to carry out this exercise three times on each side, holding the stretch for 30 seconds.
Stand on your left foot with your toes turned slightly inwards, then place your right knee in front of you on something knee height (a seat or chair is ideal, but if you don’t have one to hand a fence will do). Now hold your arms out straight in front of you and being to slowly raise your arms straight up, squeezing your bum and gently pushing your pelvis forward at the same time. You should notice a stretch in the front of your hip.
Repeat this exercise on your opposite side by raising your left knee and placing your right foot on the ground.
Arms and shoulder stretches to improve rider mobility
Stand approximately one metre away from a fence – arena fencing works great for this – place your feet a shoulders width apart. Next, put your hands on the top rail of the fence, bending at the waist and ensuring your shoulders, back, and arms are flat – all while taking slow, deep breaths and relaxing your neck. Hold this exercise for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Doing these simple stretches before riding should help you to feel more supple in the saddle. If you enjoyed these exercises to improve rider mobility then keep an eye out for another rider pilates blog post coming soon!
If you’re looking to build your horse’s confidence then check out our recent article on using gridwork exercises to increase power and lift.