January 2010 Newsletter

Jump Start Your Horsey Fitness in 2010

Here are some excerpts from the January 2010 newsletter. If you would like to receive the full newsletter each much then join my mailing list.

Stretching, Stretching and More Stretching
Take your riding to the next level and make it your new year’s resolution to stretch daily.

Below is just one stretch you can do while at the barn by putting your leg up on a fence. Check out the rest of my exercises in my e-books for even more stretches.

Hamstring Stretch on the Fence

Goal – To increase balance and stretch the hamstrings and calves.

Application to Riding – This is a warm-up stretch focusing on an area of the body that tends to get tight while riding. When your hamstrings and calves are too tight you loose some of the muscular control you need to effectively cue your horse. Tight legs also make it more difficult to move them without disturbing your seat and could cause unnecessary leg movement that might confuse or irritate your horse. Stretching the hamstrings and calves helps balance the front and back of the legs, relieving the tension and occasional soreness we experience there.

Movement
1. Inhale through the nose and lift your right leg up on the fence.
2. Exhale through the mouth as you hinge from the hips and bend your upper body forward. Place your hands on your right thigh.
3. Hold for a count of 10.
4. Return to start.
5. Repeat 3 times in three positions: parallel position of the leg (the first two pictures), external rotation of the leg (top picture of the foot). Internal rotation of the leg (bottom picture of the foot).

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

External Rotation

External Rotation

Internal Rotation

Internal Rotation

Repeat on the other leg.

Notice – As equestrians it is common for us to have tightness in this area of the body, and often we twist and turn our bodies to compensate. Pay careful attention to the rest of the body when you assume this position. Are you keeping your shoulders out of your ears? Are you keeping your hips parallel? Are you leaning too much to one side or do you have even weight throughout your body? Maximize the use of the core, pelvic floor, hamstrings and calves. Minimize the use of the shoulders.

The Importance of Flexibility for the Rider

Bottom line: flexible muscles and joints give the rider the ability to move freely on and off the horse.

One of the most important skills in riding is learning how to allow your body to flow with the movement of the horse. This gives the appearance that the rider is not moving at all!

Inflexible muscles and over all tension in the body can cause bouncing and gripping and prevents us from communicating clearly to our horses.

Make it part of your new year’s resolution to stretch 5 minutes before and after you ride. You’ll be amazed what a difference this commitment can make!

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