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Lockdown giving riders a Winning Edge

While it would be very easy for us to sit around the house watching Netflix all day, during this lockdown that has been imposed on us, recent studies have shown that the negative effects that will have on our mental and physical health could lead to long term health problems.

It’s also suspring how these weeks creep up on us and before you know it’s been 8 weeks and the only exercise you’ve had is your hours of walking a day. Or some of us are lucky we can still go and tend to our horses so we get a bit of exercise and a “break from the world” that way. But even if you are still riding your horse the chances are you aren’t working them as intensely, which is great for your horses it saves their legs and their brains! However horses build their anaerobic fitness a lot quicker than humans do, so once we are given the green light for competitions to go ahead again, how long is it going to take you to be ready?

Mental Health

Stress and anxiety levels are at a high for some of us right now, and understandably so, there are added pressures from money worries, loneliness and fear for loved ones. There’s no escaping the fact that times are hard right now, but we have to make the It’s a proven fact that exercising stimulates the release of dopamine, it’s a real mood booster!

Exercise is the most underrated medicine we have access to! Even just going for a walk in the fresh air is enough to lift your mood leaving you in a more positive state of mind.

The quarantine 15

Experts are predicting the average weight gain over this quarantine period will be 15lbs.

Again weight gain in times like this is something that can creep up on us, a few simple things you can do to prevent this is to make a food journal, simply track all the foods you have eaten every day of the week. This makes you more aware of snacks you are consuming that normally we wouldn’t necessarily think about. Different foods affect our bodies and moods differently, bloating or mood swings for example, and by logging your food you can make the connection between this and the foods that might not agree with you. Keep your fluids up, something we all know we should be doing but often overlook this. Simply drinking 3 litres of water a day without changing anything else will aid weight loss.

Eat more regularly, eating little and often prevents the strong hunger pangs we get which makes us make poorer food choices. It is proven if we wait until we are “starving” to eat we crave high carb and fatty foods, which is why you never shop on an empty stomach, you would leave the supermarket with a trolley full of unhealthy food. Fill up protein, fruit and veg first and leave the high carb foods till last.

Think of the bigger picture

Motivation is low for most of us at the moment so we need to set goals to aim for, maybe your horse needs to establish a more balanced canter to score higher marks in the test, focusing on making small steps everyday to achieve this will keep us motivated and give us something to aim for. But think outside the box, what else can you do to make sure you are consistently improving in the saddle? This is where our rider fitness comes in, it’s all good splashing out on regular lessons as we think that’s what we need to improve, and your right it is, but look deeper than that, it’s all good paying a instructor to teach you which buttons to press but if your core isn’t strong enough or your lower leg is weak and unstable, or your upper body collapses when you ask for transitions, then there is only so much a instructor can teach you. These are the things we often overlook but these are core foundations we need to be a good effective rider.

“The art of riding is being a good load to carry” – Richard Weiss

When we work our horses there’s generally a purpose to what we are doing, hacking is good for their brains, fittening work, walking up hills to build strength, polework to keep them supple and build strength etc. We do this because we want our horses to work correctly so they can carry themselves, but how can we expect our horses to carry themselves if we can’t carry ourselves first. Before we start expecting our horses to carry themselves we need to be sure we are being a good load to carry.

As riders we should be incorporating simple strengthening exercises into our workout routines, focusing on building a strong core, back and leg, as well as strong, flexible shoulders and hips. If you spend time focusing on theses during our time in lockdown, once we have the green light to go ahead and start having lessons and competing you will have that winning edge and know you have done your best as a rider to be that good load for your horse to carry and to ride to your full potential.

Author – Natalie Alexander

Qualified Personal Trainer & Online Fitness coach, my specialist area is helping Horse riders lose weight and gain strength to improve their riding performance, without any diet restrictions. Event rider & young horse producer myself, I really enjoy working with like minded people and getting them the results they deserve.


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