Equestrian Fitness with Kelly from Western Workouts - Horse Riding Holidays and Safaris

Equestrian Fitness with Kelly from Western Workouts

In the spotlight

Globetrotters, we are SO EXCITED to present this video with Kelly Altschwager – horsewoman, personal trainer, nutrition coach, equestrian fitness guru and founder of Western Workouts. Prepare to have your mind BLOWN as Kelly talks through everything you need to know to get saddle fit for your horse riding holiday and beyond. Oh – and keep reading for a very special, Globetrotters-only discount on an equestrian fitness plan tailored especially to YOU!

The way you train in the lead-up to a Globetrotting holiday will depend on a number of factors including your personal health and fitness level, whether or not you have regular access to a horse, and the intensity and duration of your trip. As Kelly says, even if you’re lucky enough to have horses in your backyard, finding the time and energy to ride regularly isn’t always easy because, well, life happens! BUT having something big like a multi-day ride to work towards makes a HUGE difference.

For all the details, you simply must watch the video above, but for those who can’t spare the time or appreciate having some notes to look back on, here’s a summary:

Off the horse

Stretch your quads and hamstrings! This is one of the simplest yet most transformational things you can do for your body as a rider.

Round out your frame! Just like when we ask our horses to round out their frame, by tucking our chin and pelvis, we can use our back and glutes more effectively. And just like when you’re in the saddle, during standing exercises, focus on pushing down through your heels.

Work your legs individually. Standing split squats, Bulgarian split squats, and single and double-leg hip thrusts are great exercises. When doing split squats, try to maintain a 90 degree angle in both legs at the lowest point of the squat. This ensures that all the major muscles in your lower body that are needed for riding get worked: inner and outer thighs, hamstrings and glutes.

Pull your belly button into your spine. This is something you can do throughout the day, whether you’re driving, sitting at work, cooking, cleaning or doing chores. Simply pull your stomach muscles in and back, hold, release and repeat. You’ll feel your pelvis and hips move automatically into a healthier, stronger position.

Strength training is everything! Kelly calls it the ‘fountain of youth’. It improves your body control, balance and spatial awareness, increases and balances your strength left to right (no more lopsided saddle seat!), and increases your bone density so that should you fall, you’ll be more likely to brush it off than break something. Whether you try CrossFit, head to the gym or simply lift weights, you’ll reap the benefits (and don’t worry ladies, you won’t bulk up if you don’t try to).

Pilates and yoga still have their place. For increasing your mobility and range of motion, which may be of particular concern for those of us with desk jobs or those who are older, Pilates and yoga can be an important part of rider fitness. However, these forms of exercise shouldn’t replace strength training.

If you’re starting from scratch, in the lead-up to your trip, start by doing do three rounds of 12-15 reps of your chosen exercises three times a week. As the date draws nearer, do three rounds of 20 reps four or five times a week. This will build muscular endurance so you can ride longer without getting sore. At first, when you start this routine, you might need to ride less while your body adapts; listen to your body, and ride more as your muscles stop screaming so loudly!

On the horse and in the stable

Ride bareback! Especially for Western riders who will be riding English-style on vacation (or vice versa), hop on your horse bareback. Work on your balance and inner thigh strength by riding at a walk, then building up to a jog, then a posting trot, then a two-point seat (yes, you can ride two-point without stirrups! It’s all in the muscles). You might like to start in the arena, then head out to the paddock or the trails once you feel in control at a posting and a two-point trot. Then have a go at cantering in two-point! If you can achieve even some of these things, you’ll be comfortable riding in just about any sort of saddle.

Keep an open mind. This applies to both horsemanship and fitness: if you keep an open mind and try as many new things as you can, ultimately, you’ll find what builds your inner fire. Variety is the spice of life!

‘Mind on the muscle in motion.’ Whether you’re pushing a wheelbarrow of manure, moving a hay bale or swinging a saddle onto your horse, keep your mind on the muscle in motion. Move with purpose and engage the muscles you can feel moving. This might make your everyday tasks feel more challenging at first, but it will greatly reduce your risk of injury and boost your strength at the same time.

The nail-pulling technique. Guaranteed to make you laugh AND tone your glutes! Any time you have to use your butt, imagine you’re using your butt cheeks to pull a nail out of the floor (or the wall, depending on your position). ‘It’s so goofy, but if you think about it and visualise it, you will move with different purpose,’ says Kelly, and you will squeeze your cheeks like you’ve never squeezed ’em before! This also keeps your core super engaged and protects your spine.

On your holiday

Hydration is key. Stay hydrated during and after the day’s riding to help fuel your muscles and your recovery.

Stretch your quads and hamstrings. Single leg chair stretches are fantastic for stretching your outer thighs and hips. Child’s pose and downward-facing dog are two great poses for stretching out your shoulders and your lower body at the same time.

Protein fuels muscle recovery. Riders need protein just as much as the next athlete. Whether you source your protein from supplements, protein bars, shakes, vegetables or animal products, ensuring you get adequate protein will make a HUGE difference in your recovery day-to-day.

And finally…

Kelly has been immensely generous in offering globetrotters a 20% discount off your own personal fitness program, which she will customise to suit your goals, lifestyle and interests! Get in touch with Kelly via her website or email her directly at kelly@westernworkouts.com and mention the code KELLY20GT to redeem.

A BIG thank you to Kelly for sharing her time and expertise with us! We hope you learned some valuable tips to take into your world, whether you’re preparing for a horse riding holiday or just trying to improve your horsemanship.

Want to know more about rider fitness? Check out these articles:

How to Get Saddle Fit for a Horse Riding Holiday

Equestrian Workouts You Can Do at Home

Getting Fit for the Scottish Borders Ride


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