4 Tips to Assess Your Fitness as a Dressage Rider…
Riding your horse requires you to be fit enough to attain your goals. Our horses need to improve their fitness levels as they progress from Training Level to Grand Prix; strength, flexibility, core awareness and cardio. As a rider, you also will need to set your fitness goals to improve your riding as the requirements of the training gets more demanding. A fit, body aware rider is able to apply her aids more accurately and then be a more effective, empathic rider.
To ride a Training Level test requires a certain level of fitness on your part but to ride a Grand Prix test requires a whole different level of fitness. Set your training goals for your horse and assess your fitness level. Be honest with yourself (no one is listening to your analysis but you :)). Find a fitness program that will work for you and that you’ll have fun (for the most part) committing to and stick to it for the whole season. Your horse will thank you (and so will your coach!!!) and it’ll be reflected in your scores on show weekends. Your rides will be more enjoyable and you’ll look good as well!!!
1. Do you feel balanced when you stretch; left/right, front back?
As you stretch your body, check for balanced body in your flexibility. Are your hamstrings tight and your quads not or vice versa? Are your gluts and hip flexors balanced and flexible? Can you side bend same to the left as to the right? Is your spine mobile from your head to your tailbone? Or are there flat spots that don’t flex?
2. Do you plan your workout thinking about a balanced body when you strengthen your legs, arms, core, back?
Are you as strong in your abductors as you are in your inner thighs? Are you strengthening your back as well as your abs? Are your biceps and triceps balanced in strength? How about your gluts and hip flexors? Is your left side as strong as your right side…legs, arms, obliques?
3. Can you work in flexion, extension and rotation in your core/ab work?
Core work is the key for all athletes and especially dressage riders. Balance is again the word. Does your core workout include flexion, extension and rotation? (If you don’t understand these terms, get help from a friendly, informed fitness expert :)) Are you adding strengthening sessions to your core workout to balance out any weaknesses in flexion, extension or rotation?
4. Is there a cardio component to your workout schedule?
Having a cardio component in your workout schedule makes all the above items a bit easier to work effectively. As riders we’re don’t need to be marathon runners. To ride a smooth test, the cardio required is needed in bursts (interval training). As the test gets more difficult, the cardio intervals get longer and harder. Are you planning your cardio workout appropriately?
Now, we’re not all going to riding Grand Prix (not this year, anyway) but riding requires fitness. Pick your level and set a goal. Zumba, boot camp, yoga, work out at home or our favorite rider workout, Pilates. It’s up to you. Find something that works, is fun and check that you work in balance. Your dressage horse needs to ridden in balance so riding in a balanced body is key for you to be an effective rider.
Sweat is good, have fun!!!!
Lindsey and Vickie