Warm Up Stretches & Exercises For Horse Riders
It is important to warm up before you engage in any vigorous sporting activity. Riding is no exception. Warming up helps to prevent injuries by increasing blood flow to the muscles and preparing the body for the more strenuous activity that is to come. A good warm up routine will enable you to ride more efficiently and will help you to find your balance and coordination.
The right warm up routine will prepare both the upper and lower body by increasing your heart rate and stretching your muscles. It will improve your awareness of your body, enhance your confidence and boost your energy so you are truly ready for action.
It is important to do several different exercises and to include repetition to build up your strength. Perform each exercise in both directions or on each side of the body for balanced results. Focus on areas where you think you might have a weakness and push yourself when you stretch but not to the point where you might actually cause an injury!
Here are some exercises which should help you to prepare for a ride:
With an Exercise Ball
An exercise ball is an excellent investment and enables you to perform a variety of stretches whilst perfecting your balance.
Place your ball between a wall and the curve of your lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lower yourself around 10 inches keeping your shoulders level and your hips square. Hold your position for three seconds and then stand up again. Repeat 5 to 10 times. This exercise is great for your thighs!
Grab your ball and stand with your legs hip-width apart. Raise the ball above your head and then squat with your arms extended. Hold the squat position briefly and then stand back up. Repeat up to 15 times to work those thighs.
Stand behind your ball with your legs a little more than hip-width apart and with your toes turned out. Squat down low and place your hands on either side of the ball. Press your elbows into the insides of your thighs. Push off with your legs and jump as high as you can whilst lifting the ball over your head. Repeat up to 8 times to work on your glutes and calves.
Lie with your stomach on your exercise ball and walk your hands forward on the floor until the ball is under your thighs. Pull your stomach in and then bend your arms, lowering your body to the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds and then push up so your arms are straight. Repeat up to 15 times to exercise your arms and shoulders and to strengthen your core.
Using an Exercise Mat
Lie on your back and then bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep both of your arms outstretched. Allow your hips and back to rotate with your knees. Repeat several times alternating the direction of fall. Good for suppleness!
Kneeling Quad Stretch
Kneel on one knee with the other leg forward and with your foot on the ground. Push your hips forward whilst maintaining your balance. Then move your hips back to return to your starting position. Repeat several times whilst alternating the leg you kneel on. A good exercise for balance, suppleness and strength.
Stand upright and place the ball of your foot onto a step or raised object. Bend your knee and lean forward. Repeat several times and exercise both legs.
Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
The Wood Chop
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your hands in line with the sternum and clasped together. Lift your arms above your head, hold for 30 seconds, then bring them back down towards your thighs. Repeat 10 times. This one works your arms and abdominal muscles.
Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, glutes (bottom muscles) clenched, and your arms straight up in the air and slightly back. Bend forwards from the hip, keeping your legs straight and reach down between your legs. Then stand tall again, raising your arms up and back above your head whilst clenching your glutes tight. Repeat 10 times. A good exercise for fortifying your posterior!
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, keep standing tall and push up on to your toes. Then lower yourself back down so your feet are flat on the floor again. Repeat 10 times. This one gives your calves a good stretch.