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  • Core Fitness Exercises to Help You Improve as a Rider

Core Fitness Exercises to Help You Improve as a Rider

Core Fitness Exercises to Help You Improve as a Rider

Core Fitness Exercises to Help You Improve as a Rider

Core Strength

‘A rider-centric core fitness regime could be a ticket to improved rider symmetry, along with increased equine comfort and performance,’ researcher and dressage rider Alexandra Hampson told Practical Horseman following her 2016 study into rider fitness. ‘Horses move with longer strides and more freedom in their backs after their rider completes core strength training.’ Hampson believes that core fitness helps riders sit more symmetrically, which evens pressure out across the saddle, increasing your horse’s comfort and subsequently, their performance.

The plank position is a great one to incorporate into your workout for core strength and suppleness. Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine demonstrates how to do one here.

Equestrian Sit-Ups and Push-Ups

Sports scientist, international riding instructor and writer, Daniel Stewart, is regarded as an leading expert in rider fitness. Having published several books on the topic, he’s also released a rider bootcamp DVD ‘E-90-EQ’ – but in this video from the United States Eventing Association Convention, he demonstrates how minor modifications to simple workout exercises can help develop your core strength. Watch it here.  

Yoga and Pilates 

‘I think if you want to be a good rider for the long term, with a strong and effective position, maintaining core strength through Pilates and yoga is essential,’ says Mary Hanna, the first Australian dressage rider to qualify for the Grand Prix Special. Indeed, many riders agree that yoga and Pilates are great ways to develop your alignment and body control, improving balance in the saddle. Yoga With Adriene is a great place to get inspired, and you can do your sessions from home as all her videos are on YouTube! Check out her channel here.


If you’re not a jockey, you don’t need to be as light as a feather, but keeping extra weight off can benefit both yours and your horse’s comfort when riding. Running provides a cardio workout to burn calories and can also help with acclimatisation – exercising out in the elements helps you to get comfortable with concentrating in a variety of weather conditions, as you may be required to do on horseback. Running 4km to 8km several times a week will have a rapid affect on your fitness as a rider, and you’ll no doubt feel better for it.


If you don’t enjoy running, why not try swimming? Another great sport for cardio work outs, there’s no impact in the water so it’s great for people that may suffer from the lasting effects of an old injury. It also forces you to focus on breathing, and trains you to be more efficient with your energy spend.

Other things to consider

Stay hydrated. ‘I really believe hydration is one of the biggest things to influence performance and this should be a constant focus,’ says Charles New, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons. ‘Often riders won’t feel overly hot because there is a constant airflow over them but you can be sure you’re losing fluids.’ Always drink plenty of water when exercising!

Don’t overwork any particular muscle group. Even-toning across your body is the goal when it comes to rider fitness – it’s all about core strength.

Always warm up and cool down when undertaking a physical work-out. Stretching is a great way to do this, particularly in your legs, groin and thighs.