Unless you happen to have a string of horses at your disposal (along with the time to ride them all daily), chances are you could benefit from these super easy excercies to improve your form over fences. Equitation and proper position is the basis for many successful riders, and regardless what your discipline is, your core will thank you! Benefits include a stronger core, increased balance in the air and less “junk mileage” on your horse to get it. Sweet!
1. Squat with plyometric box
Select a plyometric box, chair or bench around knee height. Keep feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders back and eyes up. As you fold your hips backwards toward the box, imagine your seat lightly touching the saddle (don’t plop or fall backwards; GM would not approve). Tip: Keeping hands also shoulder-width apart, reach your arms forward while folding your hips back.
Using a 55-65cm excercise ball, place your forearms shoulder-width apart on the ball while kneeling. Using your abs and arms, roll the ball away from you until your body is almost straight from head to heels. This will resemble a plank position. Hold for 5 seconds, and roll back again. Tip: After a few weeks of these, progress to balance on your toes instead of your knees.
3. Squat with exercise ball
This really works the core and those lower back muscles, similar to holding a two-point position at a trot or canter. Using a small (55cm or smaller) exercise ball, place the ball high between your knees and keep feet shoulder-width apart. Do a squat (arms reach forward as per exercise #1 if you want) and concentrate on keeping your hips back and shoulders tall and down. Tip: Keep your eyes up to prevent leaning forward onto your toes.
Do these three excercises 3x a week and you will feel some serious improvement in your core, calves, back and thighs. Being a stronger, balanced rider really helps your horse do his or her job over those big oxers and tight turns. Perfect practice makes perfect!