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Quick tips for riders - a little fitness goes a long way pt 2

Thanks for tuning in for my second Fitness Fridays installment!I’m not going to reinvent the treadmill here – but I do hope to pass along some ideas and inspiration at the very least.  Staying fit as a rider and horseman is very important. Not only to bring out the best in yourself but to offer it to your horse as well. When you are fit you look good, you feel good, you ride good. Don't forget to tag your self on Facebook or Instagram #Fitnessfriday and follow me @_IntegratedEquine_ ! 

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Ballet at the Barn[/caption]

Last week we kicked your “I don’t have enough time” excuse to the curb. Now it’s time to sift through more common reasons we choose not to exercise. And you better believe that I am a culprit of each one of those so called “reasons” myself!

If you are like most horse people you justify horseback riding and barn chores as your exercise for the day or week.  While sources claim you actually can burn up to 200 calories mucking stalls, 200 for a half hour bucking hay and 400 calories riding for 1 hour. In face this is a great post by Horse&Rider. I’m saying it’s simply not enough. You might be burning a load of calories, but what about in terms of cross training and actually exercising with being a better rider in mind? Once I heard a wise horseman quip something about being “quicker than a fox and more athletic than a chimp” when referring to starting colts efficiently.  We can’t all be swinging monkeys – but we can identify our natural aptitude for exercise.

Let's first find where you range from physical fitness scale:

Knitting granny?

Savvy Speed walker?

Low impact yoga connoisseur?

High school football champ?

Hockey in the big leagues?

To be completely transparent with you I range somewhere between a granny and speed walker concerning my actual interest and desire to exercise. I’m lucky enough to have my physic reflect otherwise, but smart enough to know I need more than a casual schlep around the barn. Here are some ways I combat my acute laziness and unrealistic desire to be athletic.

Don’t force myself to do something I do not enjoy doing.Find something I do love or enjoy and MAKE IT athleticDo it regularly enough to make a difference.

Since my interests do not lie in mainstream sports, I decided to employ my extensive dance background. Ballet 2-4 hours a week has greatly benefited my ability as a rider, and horsewoman. First, I love dance and always have. So it wasn't hard for me to find the motivation to find a local studio and join and adult class. I've enjoyed reconnecting with the art and taking time away from my business and passion that is horses. Consequently I have found many similarities between dance and horseback riding!

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Dance and riding? You better believe there are similarities![/caption]

Ballet takes a lot of BALANCE, strength and flexibility. Just within the proper alignment of the basic 5 foot and arm positions, can be a strain if you aren't flexible and strong! Going into movement from the basic 5 positions requires precision and control. I might get cocky holding on to the barre but when it’s time to move across the floor it when the truth comes out! Along with discipline in the body, you have to have enough rhythm to be free in your body with the beat of the music. It is a full body work out indeed.

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Arabesque in 3rd position[/caption]

Riding horses also needs a lot of balance, strength, and flexibility. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that! Staying on at a trot or buck need balance, controlling a 1,200 lb animal needs strength, and leg yields need flexibility! Talk about precision and control – what about riding isn’t? Usually things go awry when you aren't in control and you don’t aim for some type of precision.  And if you can’t keep to the rhythm of your horse’s footfalls then good luck trying to get a lead change. A full body work out for horse and human wouldn't you say?

Maybe dance isn't your thing? That’s okay. My challenge to you is to find something that you enjoy and make it benefit your riding. Knit on an exercise ball and engage your core, pass the football a few times a week to enhance your focus, find how the flexibility in your yoga moves applies to your horsemanship. Make your cross training individual for your and your horse!

**Fit tip: Good better best never let it rest, get your good better and your better best - Pat Parelli.**

Tell me what fun ways you try to enhance your horsemanship below! Are they mainstream or more obscure? Don't forget to tag your self on Facebook or Instagram #Fitnessfridays and follow me @_IntegratedEquine_

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