So you’re stuck at home for a while, huh? It sucks, we know – but why not use this time to improve your saddle fitness with rider-specific workouts? Both you and your horse will feel the benefits – and you don’t even need a saddle, let alone a horse!
The following online resources will guide you through every aspect of off-the-horse fitness, from fitness programs to anatomy lessons. Most are free, although some require an investment. Whatever you choose to read, learn from and put into practice, the important part of all of this is having a go. What’s that phrase? The first step is the hardest? And at least we have great motivation at the moment – just picture jumping back on your beloved horse, fit and ready for action, communicating better than ever before.
Dressage Rider Training
This site deserves the first mention because it has SO many amazing resources that apply to all equestrians – not just dressage riders. There’s a huge library of free articles, a free downloadable fitness guide, and if you feel like taking things further, a comprehensive 12 week Dressage Rider Training Program. This article about workouts to improve your riding is the perfect starting point.
Strides for Success Equestrian Fitness Challenge
Now we haven’t personally done this challenge, but it’s free, has great reviews, and your guide is Irish equestrian coach Lorna Leeson. You’ll work on your fitness and mindset with one simple workout each day, five days a week, and a short daily video to help bring you into the best possible mindset for riding.
We recently spoke to equestrian fitness guru Kelly Altschwager about all things rider fitness and to be honest, it was mindblowing. Check out the video and article here: Equestrian Fitness with Kelly from Western Workouts. Kelly has also written two great articles for Horse and Rider: 30 Small Fitness Changes to Improve Your Riding and Out of (Saddle) Shape.
Over at the U.S. Eventing Association, John Sanford has written a great muscle-by-muscle exercise guide for riders.
We also love this workout walk-through with American equitation star Taylor St. Jacques. Some exercises require a piece of equipment or two, but most of Taylor’s routine could definitely be done at home.
Saddle Strong Rider Fitness Program
This six-week program with horsewoman, personal trainer and nutrition coach Kelly Altschwager costs USD $119, and promises to develop your strength, endurance and confidence in the saddle, no matter what level you’re at.
If you’re ready to take it to the next level or have specific requirements, goals or injuries that you want to account for in your training, head to Western Workouts to work directly with Kelly Altschwager on a personalised program designed especially for you. And yes, English riders are welcome too!
Fit & Focused in 52
Fit & Focused in 52 is the title of equestrian coach Daniel Stewart’s book, a week-by-week companion for horse riders to help train both the mind and body. There are some excerpts available to give you an idea of what to expect, and there’s also an online taster featuring trot pole squats. The hardcover book sells for USD $27.95 + shipping, which we think is pretty reasonable for a year’s worth of coaching!
The Fit Equestrian
The Fit Equestrian provides simple, effective exercise programs and nutrition guides tailored specifically to riders. There’s a lot of seriously valuable content available for free, so be sure to scroll through the blog as well as downloading their free guides: a weekly fitness planner and a goal setting guide. Although you do need to pay for their fitness programs and nutrition guides, these range in price from $8 to $35, so you don’t have to break the bank.
The Fit Equestrian also has a fitness video on YouTube – check it out here. For rider-targeted yoga, there’s a 30-minute class by Yoga with Adriene and two 30-minute yoga practices for dressage riders here and here. We also found some awesome videos on the FEI’s Health & Fitness playlist, lots of Pilates exercises on the Kerrits channel, a five-exercise at-home workout, and a quick yoga-inspired workout.
We had so much fun compiling this collection for you, globetrotters, and we hope it supports and inspires you to get riding fit at home! And if you have a horseback vacation lined up once we’re all free to travel again, be sure to check out our articles How to Get Saddle Fit for a Riding Holiday and Equestrian Fitness with Kelly from Western Workouts.