The Equestrian Is An Athlete

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From backyards to Olympic stadiums, equestrians around the world dream, train and chase goals of all sizes. Rooted in military tradition, today’s equestrian disciplines are often described as a combination of art and entertainment. But in order to perform, both horse and rider must be athletes – developing endurance, strength and skill.

the equestrian is an athlete - show jumper

Internet memes aside, being an athlete is about more than logo jackets and sweaty rides.

It is treating your horse like a respected partner. It is always being willing to learn more – about strides, about conditioning, about horse management. It is investing in yourself – your nutrition, your fitness, your wellness.

If riders train like athletes, we can begin to fight some of the dark and dangerous corners of our sport. At every level, there is body shaming, skewed body image, low self esteem and bullying. This can most effectively be countered by empowering ourselves and each other as rider-athletes.


Your own fitness is just as important as your horses. It’s not about your breech size, fitting a specific silhouette or having the “Big Eq” body. Training like an athlete gives you the body control to positively influence your horse. Building your core strength makes it easier to stay over your horse’s center of balance in the air. Improved flexibility and a strong, supple back keeps your position steady and consistent.

Looking to improve your fitness for better performance in the saddle? Check out the articles from Kathlyn Hossack.

Kathlyn Hossack has a BSc. in Kinesiology, is a certified strength and conditioning coach (CSCS through the NSCA) and took the exam to be certified as an Athletic Therapist (results pending).  She runs Katmah Training and Performance for both equestrian athletes, and people of all backgrounds looking to improve their athletic performance, daily lives, and prevent and rehab injuries. Using an integrative approach with aspects from the field of biomechanics, strength and conditioning, and injury prevention, Kathlyn gives clinics and works with equestrian athletes to improve their movement in and out of the saddle for a better performance in the ring.


Just as we carefully assess our horse’s nutrition for balance, energy and condition, we should fuel ourselves in the same deliberate way. It’s not about a “diet” or a number on the scale. In a sport riddled with disordered eating, we owe it to ourselves to learn about the value of healthy, whole foods. Riders fueling themselves like athletes have better endurance for the long days and more strength for the hard rides.

We know it’s challenging to navigate eating choices so we’re bringing you easy and delicious recipes, cooking techniques you need to know and the information you need to make educating choices about your own nutrition with Kristen Smith.

Kristen Smith is a lifelong equestrian, avid foodie and enthusiastic cook. Through out her junior years and college, Kristen balanced her riding with travel and school soccer teams including playing on the Wesleyan College soccer team while pursuing a degree in Marketing. Since then, her interest in delicious food and the role nutrition plays in our overall health and athletic performance motivated Kristen to continue her education. She holds multiple nutrition certifications including Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 Elite Nutrition Certification, NASM Personal Training certification and is currently in Precision Nutrition’s Level 2 Master Class.

Take The Challenge

Whether you are headed to Ocala, Wellington, or Thermal this winter or taking the off season to work on next seasons goals, improving your fitness and nutrition should be a priority. Because it’s more fun together, Stable & Spice is putting together the WEF Sweat & Fuel Challenge in January 2016. Sign up at the top of the website or bottom of this post to have workouts, meal plans and recipes delivered straight to your email. Then, share your sweaty selfies on Instagram and Twitter with #WEFSweat so we can cheer you on. Need some healthy eating accountability? We’ll be right there with at #WEFFuel.

Are you ready to train like the athlete we know you are?

Digital strategist Kristen Smith, author of If The Saddle Fits, offers equestrian bloggers a place to learn, grow and connect with Blogging From The Barn. She holds multiple nutrition certifications and at her day job, helps equestrian professionals and businesses to harness the power of social media at KLSmith Creative.

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