While horses are definitely extraordinary athletes, so are the people that ride them. Horseback riding is a lot more than just sitting atop a horse; it’s a full-body workout involving balance, strength, and determination. You’re going to use a lot of different muscles on horseback, many of which aren’t used to getting worked so hard. You’ll use your thighs to balance, arms to communicate with your horse, and your core to keep you sitting up straight.
Much like you would spend time training before running a half-marathon, you should also get your body ready before embarking on a week-long horseback riding trip. Here’s what you should work on to prepare your body for a horseback riding vacation.
To prepare for your week-long horseback riding vacation, you should do core-strengthening exercises that work your abdominal and lower back muscles.
The low back is the body part that’s most likely to get sore and stiff after a long day of riding. But when you strengthen your core, it’ll be easier to sit up straight, lessons the impact on your low back, and helps you avoid any post-riding pain from your adventure along the trails.
In addition to helping you ride with good posture, strong back and abdominal muscles will also help you stay balanced atop your horse, and will make it easier to do other strengthening exercises, like push-ups and lunges.
Horseback Riding Posture
Good posture is crucial when riding a horse. It’s the difference between an aching back and feeling up for the afternoon ride, and it’s how you keep control over your horse. To prepare for your week of horseback riding at C Lazy U, head to the nearest riding center or start practicing your posture at home.
Sit straddling a bench or a wide chair. Practice sitting up straight and tall, making sure your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel are all vertically aligned. Relax your back and hold your arms at 90 degree angles (like you’re holding the reins), and then, with a foot in each “stirrup,” hold your balance.
Get yourself used to sitting and balancing your weight like this. That way you can avoid straining your muscles or making your horse feel like they’re carrying a heavier load.
Upper Body Strength
Horseback riding definitely engages your lower body more than the upper, making it important you exercise your arms, shoulders, and upper back to balance things out. Plus, by strengthening your arm and shoulder muscles, you can gain more control and coordination of your arm movements, enhancing your ability to communicate clearly through the reins. And by strengthening your upper back and shoulders, it’ll be easier to maintain strong posture while you’re riding.
Some arm and upper body exercises you should incorporate into your pre-horseback riding exercise routine include: tricep pull-backs, upright rows, push-ups, and 30- or 60-second planks.
Lower Body Control
By strengthening your lower body muscles, you can improve your leg control and coordination. This is important when it comes to cueing (communicating) with your horse, as well as sitting safely in the saddle. And strong hamstrings can help you keep your feet positioned properly: under your center of gravity, in line with your shoulders and hips.
The lower body muscles you want to target in particular include: the quadriceps (front of thighs), gluteals (buttocks), hamstrings (back of thighs) and calves. Some leg and lower body exercises you should try include: squats, lunges, step-ups, inner-thigh press, and cross-stepping.
Adapt Exercises for Horseback Riding
As important as it is to prepare your muscles for a week of horseback riding, it’s even more important that you modify exercises to match the sport you’re training for: horseback riding!
For example, when you’re doing squats, you should stand with your feet horse-width (rather than hip-width) apart, toes turned out slightly as in stirrups, and knees slightly bent. And when you’re doing standing lunges, you want to take a wider stance (horse-width) so make sure you’re targeting and strengthening the muscles you’ll need when you’re in the saddle.
Book Your Dream Horseback Riding Vacation at C Lazy U Ranch
C Lazy U is a unique Colorado vacation for experienced horseback riders, but also for non-riders who are excited to try a new activity and release their inner cowboy or cowgirl. So even if you’ve never ridden a horse before, a vacation a C Lazy U Guest Ranch is definitely for you!