There are many things each of us can do on a regular basis to improve our riding and better our horses. You do not need a lot of equipment or expensive gym memberships, you simply need a few minutes every other day. Before beginning any exercise program it is a good idea to consult your physician and it is imperative that you do so if you have any existing health problems.
We all know how important it is to regularly exercise our horses but we often neglect ourselves. Riding, regardless of type, is a very physical sport and requires great muscle control and stability. In this article, I will demonstrate some basic guidelines you can follow to improve your cardiovascular heath as well as your horses’.
The first component to any exercise program is Cardiovascular Fitness. There are many forms of cardiovascular activity, including riding. A good rule of thumb is if you feel winded or out of breath while riding you likely need to improve your cardiovascular capacity. Of course all horses are different and some require you to work harder than others, however if you are fatigued in 15 minutes or less of moderate riding you should consider supplementing your riding with another cardiovascular activity. Some examples of alternate activities include; power walking, running, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, hiking and many more. When participating in these activities you can monitor how hard you are working a number of ways. First, you can take your heart rate which for moderate activity should be between 70 – 85% of your maximum heart rate. You can find your maximum heart rate by starting with 220 if you are male and 226 if you are female and subtracting your age, then multiplying by your target heart rate zone (70-85%).