Improve your riding through fitness?

20 April 2023 ,

Improving your riding on foot to improve your seat, to fix your leg or to improve your jumping position. It is possible with the fitness practice.

Training program for a rider

Horse riding is one of the sports that solicits most muscles. Spending weeks without riding is enough to see all the stiffness you have when you are back on horse. Therefore, if you are beginners, amateurs or even professionals, working on your physical condition is very useful to improve your ride.

Cross-training and fitness to ride better

Olivia Minicucci, rider and nutrition coach, exposes in that blog post all the benefits of physical conditioning combined with horse riding. It is by passion but also to perform on horse that Olivia has chosen cross-training. Discover all her advice and exercises to improve your ride.

When it comes to improving your riding performance, physical conditioning and cross training are a must. It allows riders to isolate key elements for their riding without needing endless time in the saddle.

From a physiological perspective, a rider should aim to have balance, core stability, and muscular endurance. Keep in mind that some factors may be even more important depending on the type or number of horses one rides per day. For instance, a colder horse may require more emphasis on leg endurance while a hotter horse may need their rider to have a strong upper body. So, it’s important to tailor your fitness to match your performance goals.

“Not sure where to get started? Check out these exercises to match your riding needs!”

Olivia Minicucci Fitness

Fitness exercises linked with your needs on horse

Mix and match different components to create your own personalized regiment. However, be sure to feel comfortable with the form to prevent injury. If you are new to cross training, start slow and work your way up!

Improveing your balance on horse by focusing on core

Working your core is necessary to insure balance while jumping and at the landing. Here are some exercises for core training.

The plank, a core strength exercise on the elbows where the body has to remain straight, or the leg lifts on the back where the legs have to be tight and have to lift alternately to solicit the abs (that should remain tight). The inverse crunches where the leg swings works on the core and improves your stability for jumping.

Fixing your leg by working your legs

Creating impulsion and giving a message to your horse is essential. Here is how to strengthen your legs and winning in stability.

Helped by a step, the calf raises during which you will put yourself on tiptoe and go back to normal, the sumo squats or the lunges will focus on your leg resistance and gaining in fixity.

Gaining in stability by building a strong back

Having a muscled back gives you more stability for dressage and jumping. It is really important especially when you shorten your strides.  It also improves your shock absorption, which contributes to reduce chronic back pains.

The seated row helped by a  gym machine, the back extensions in which you have to raise your legs and arms while landing on your stomach, or the deadlifts helped by a bar (which is on the floor) will solicit the mack muscles and help you to strengthen it.

Having a good position on horse by working the upper body

Improving your posture involves tonic but also muscled shoulders and chest. This will be useful with any horse. To muscle them, here is a list of exercices that should help you.

The Arnold Press that consists in lifting your arms and bendind them help by the press machine, the Reverse fly, with the chest flat, the arms that move aside, and the Svend Press will help you to tone up your upper body. Therefore you will improve you posture on horse.

Olivia Minicucci Horse Riding


Thank you Olivia for this advice! You can learn more on the athlete Instagram account: @_minifitness.

You now have all the keys to improve your riding level without riding! You can massage your self at the end of the day or/and after your training session to avoid stiffness. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day is also a good solution to avoid them. Indeed, Olivia is talking about the benefits of nutrition in a former blog post. Finally, you can take cold showers to prevent stiffness apparition.

That’s it for today! See you soon for another blog post about dealing with stress and emotions.