While the season of conditioning our equine athletes is upon us, the sun is starting to shine warmer and our horses are in full shedding mode, what are you doing to better your athlete?
In this blog, you will learn how you can drastically improve your horse's movement, and performance, by considering your own fitness program. Learn from kinesiologist and #TeamVE therapist, Caroline, on how you better your horse, by bettering yourself!
It's Riding Season Y'all (Photo by Rockin A Photography)
With the incredible rise in equine health and wellness, it has become commonplace to see horse owners bettering equine performance by providing a gold standard of care for their equine athletes. By making sure they are sound, with regular veterinary visits, making sure they are fit, with an intentional training program, and of course helping their muscles function optimally, with a cheeky #TeamVE massage ;) It's awesome. BUT.... ....what are you doing for yourself as a rider to help better your equine athlete’s performance? Similar to horses, humans develop a variety of muscle imbalances depending on their everyday routine.
Depending on the season, our everyday routine changes and it is during this time that we need to intentionally target our own personal muscle imbalances. These imbalances can be as simple as being left or right hand/foot dominant. When you don’t strengthen your muscles equally during everyday tasks, you can form even the smallest imbalances which could directly impact the amount of pressure placed on the bit or even the amount of weight distributed in your stirrups.
While we are always preaching about core activation in our equine athletes, it is also one of the most important areas of focus for us as riders. Did you know, that there is more to your core than just the infamous 6 pack… which I am still personally working on…and probably will be for years to come. But, yes, it’s true!
The smaller muscles, such as the transverse abdominals (TA’s) play a very important role in the position of your pelvis and its stability during riding. I would take a random shot in the dark and say the majority of riders do not know how to activate and stabilize the TA’s while competing. Do you? Which means that other muscles from the hip, glutes and back will need to work harder during exercise to compensate for the TA’s.
Does this sound familiar to your equine athlete? Have you been provided with activations or stretches for your athlete from #TeamVE, targeting core activation and lumbar tension? Oh ya, and that’s because we need their core, their entire core activating, in order to reduce this pelvic compensation, that can inherently sneak it’s way into our routine.
If this persists for a period of time us as riders will find a way to over-compensate to relieve some of the extra work and in turn our back, glutes and hips are over-performing. It is these small adaptations in our riding we take to protect ourselves, in turn that affect our equine athletes and their musculoskeletal patterns as well.
Now many of you can be very active and avid gym members, which is honestly amazing ! But are you performing exercises in the gym with your equine athletes in mind?
If not, why not? We specifically condition our horses to perform, how come we aren’t doing the same for ourselves.
Human biomechanics, if acknowledged is an open book of information, it can be discovered simply by observing. If you are wanting to see how an individual’s musculoskeletal system functions, do what we do with your horses, and observe them, or rather observe YOURSELF.
Watch how you stand while your horse is getting a massage, how you walk down the alley way of the barn, or even how you mount your horse. What are you doing?
On top of that, many of us have also started to work from home the last few days, or many of us are unable to visit our horses at their barns for the next two weeks. Take this opportunity, to consider your postural preferences, your strengths and weaknesses. Take a closer look at your own musculature, and in turn you will help your horse’s muscular imbalances.
If you are looking for some TA strengthening exercises (for humans) or other rider strengthening exercises, feel free to contact me! I have worked in a physio clinic for years working with human athletes, and I totally get it. I ride 7 horses a day, man! But really, feel free to reach out, I would love to help you, and in turn help your horses with some rider strengthening exercises.