We are all guilty of it. Our horse gets the best nutritional diet, they regularly see a physio and they are exercised regularly to work towards our goals for them. Meanwhile, we don’t feed ourselves properly, we let aches and pains go on untreated and don’t take our own training anywhere near as seriously as our horses. But when we don’t look after ourselves as well as we look after our horses, we can actually be letting them down.
I think we all know now that rider weight can have a big impact on not only the horse’s way of going, but also their wellbeing. Studies have found that when you are too heavy for a horse, you can cause temporary lameness as well as back pain. Studies differ on what the perfect weight ratio for horse and rider is. But typically they say between 10% and 20% of the horses bodyweight. I personally like to aim for 15% as this gives you wriggle room to include the saddle, hat etc. This means that for a horse weighing 600kg, the rider should be around 90kg.
Horse riding can require quite a bit of cardio fitness. If you are expecting your horse to be fit enough to school for 45 mins, you need to be fit enough to do this too. Not being fit enough means you won’t be an effective rider for your horse. But it’s not just cardio fitness you need to ride horses, you also need core and leg strength. Just how fit and strong you need to be depends on the level you are riding at. Someone who just goes hacking a few times a week doesn’t need to be as fit as someone who is schooling 5 or 6 times a week.
Luckily, riding regularly will help you build your strength and fitness up naturally. But if you find you are struggling in the saddle, there is plenty you can do out of the saddle to improve yourself. Whether it’s running, swimming or even walking to improve your cardio or Gym or home workouts for strength training. All of these things will help you feel better in the saddle and make you a better rider.
When you own horses it is hard to rest. So when you do pick up a minor injury, it is tempting to just keep going through it. Back pain is very common from lifting heavy things at the yard. But carrying these aches and pains can make us stiff in the saddle, which can stop us being effective and can even block our horses movement.
But there are some quick things you can do to prevent and treat your aches and pains. Before you injure yourself, think about how you are working at the yard. Are you bending your knees before you pick up something heavy? Are you setting your shoulders? Are you engaging your core? All these things can help stop you from injuring yourself in the first place.
When you do pick up an injury, find a way to give yourself a bit more of a rest. Can you swap some favours with other people at the yard to give yourself a break? Or maybe even just take it a bit easier for a few days. If your aches and pains linger, you can look at seeing a physio to help level you out.
Diet is the building block
It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that having a good, balanced diet is the first step to improving all of the above. If you are a little over the rider weight ratio for your horse, having a closer look at your diet can be an easy solution to help you get closer to where you should be. Can you swap out a takeaway or two for a healthier meal? Can you swap your afternoon chocolate to something healthier with less calories? Can you cut back on the alcohol or swap to lower calorie options?
Making sure you are getting the right ingredients is important for improving your strength and fitness. You might need to have a bit more protein for building muscle. If you are significantly increasing your exercise with cardio, you might find you need to increase your calories to maintain your weight. Eating more varied vegetables can help you get a wider range of nutrients, which can help your body recover from exercise and injury quicker.
I am certainly guilty of all of these things and do need to give myself a bit of a kick up the bum to start looking after myself properly. Not only will it make Scottie’s life easier. I know it will also make me feel better in other aspects of my life.
Last Updated on 22/10/2021