Why stretch and warm up?
We all know about warming our horses or ponies up before intense work, walk first, trot both reigns than canter before you jump or gallop. However, how many of us give time to warming ourselves up? As a rider we are athletes and until we finish riding the horse or pony, we don’t know exactly what strain out bodies will have to endure. Your horse may be pulling or lazy, spooking or stumbling or just fresh and it’s so important our bodies as well as our horses are loosened out and warmed up!
It is crucial that you know your weakness to be able to ride in harmony with your horse. This is why when we are not riding we should be working on the areas that need strengthening and the areas that need loosening.
Stretching is important to bring mobility to muscles and get the most out of your body. Every athlete should do a proper warm up including stretches and movements to help the body prepare for the job ahead.
The benefits of stretching:
- Reduce pain and injury
- Decrease post riding stiffness
- Reduces tension
- Promotes circulation
- Elasticity in the muscles
- Better movement and posture
- Hamstrings – Prop your heel on a chair, bucket or haybale making sure it is lower than hip level. Flex your foot towards your body, hold, switch legs a few times and hold for no more than 3 seconds.
Hamstring – forward hang: Stand in a comfortable position your feet naturally with a space between them. Gently bend forward from your hips, letting your arms hang towards your toes. Hold for no more than 3 seconds.
- Calf – stand facing a wall but 2-3ft away from it with one leg in front of the other (in a staggered position). Place your hands against the wall and lean against it until you feel the stretch in the back leg/calf. Hold for a few seconds and switch legs.
Calf – stand facing a wall but 2-3ft away from it with one leg in front of the other (in a staggered position). Place your hands against the wall and with your heel on the ground place the ball of your foot against the wall with your toes facing up. Hold for a few seconds and switch legs.
- Quads – Stand on one leg, bend the knee (you’re not standing on!) and gently bring your heel towards your buttock. Use your hand to assist the final pull so you feel the stretch, hold and repeat.
- Shoulders – bring one arm across your upper body and hold it straight, grab the elbow with your other hand and gently pull towards your chest. Hold for 10+ seconds and repeat with the other arm.
Wall sit – Great to sculpt and strengthen your thighs, hips, calves, quads, hamstrings, gluts and core. Start off with a few 5 – 10 second attempts and go from there. Simple and effective!
Blog credit: Grace O’Rourke BSCH sports and exercise science and pilates instructor.