Fitness: Find Something You Enjoy Doing!

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It is safe to say that anyone who participates in competitive equestrian sports does so because they are passionate about horses and the sport itself. These sports are too time consuming and expensive to participate in if a competitor only has a mild affinity for it. Equestrians are passionate. It only makes sense that these athletes would be willing to do everything in their power to be a competitive participant in their own discipline.

Get Fit with something you enjoy and

Dancing At The NAJYRC party

Unfortunately, physical fitness of the rider is often overlooked in the same disciplines that require peak fitness of the equine participant. It can be difficult to find the time and motivation to work out after a long day at the barn. Working out doesn’t provide the same thrill and excited anticipation that sailing over a four foot fence does, but it can. The problem is that all too often ‘working out’ is associated with running on a treadmill or lifting weights, activities that are seen as tedious and boring for many, but fitness can be achieved through many different activities. The solution is to find activities that the equestrian athlete looks forward to almost as much as they look forward to getting in the saddle.

Ideally a work out regimen for an equestrian competitor will include both strength training and cardio work. While a mixed schedule of running and weight lifting may be the most obvious option, there are so many more ways to achieve this balance.


Cross Fit does a great job of combining both elements into one work out. These gyms also work by doing group classes so that participants motivate and support each other.

Martial Arts:

Another less common type of gym is an MMA gym, or Mixed Marshal Arts gym. These specialize in many different martial arts, but the two most common are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a grappling sport, and Mui Thai, a form of standup that includes punching, kicking, and take downs. These classes are also taught in groups, and the memberships for most cross fit and MMA gyms are very affordable. Additionally MMA provides the added benefit of self-defense training, which is important, especially for young equestrians that often have to travel alone over long distances for their competitions.


Another great workout that doesn’t often come to mind is dance, specifically breakdancing and hip-hop. Both are very active, cardio and strength intensive forms of activity. Many universities have breakdancing or B-Boy groups that are free to join and participate in. Additionally, there are many websites and video channels dedicated to teaching these forms of dance so that busy equestrians never have to leave the barn.

It is important to think outside the box when it comes to fitness. It is much easier to stay motivated when an athlete loves what they do. Attaining a greater level of fitness will only improve riding technique as fatigue will no longer be a problem, and the confidence gained from becoming more active will only help in competitive situations. If an athlete can find a fitness they love, working out becomes a lot less work.

What do you do off the horse to get fit?

Diane Portwood

2015 NAJYRC CCI** champion. I'm currently competing at the advanced and 3* level of eventing, and am a huge proponent of rider fitness.

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