Conditioning Plan… For The Rider

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We all set specific conditioning plans for our horse and our goals for them. However, we can often get a bit lackadaisical when it comes to doing the same for ourselves. These are tips on setting a conditioning plan for yourself that will be a breeze to stick to.

1. Specificity: Set goals specific to yourself and your goals- not anyone else’s. The physical needs of a dressage rider and a steeplechase rider are both completely different, and by following in a lead not your own, you can often get stuck in a slump.

2. Avoid Generalizations: Avoid setting a plan for yourself with a phrase like “workout more”. Generalizations are impossible to pinpoint and easy to “accidentally” forget to do enough. Set goals that have set terms specific to you such as “do yoga 30 mins a day” instead of the vague “do more yoga”.

3. Do What You Enjoy: While it is good to branch out and try activities you may not be a fan off, constantly incorporating them can lead you to skipping over or “forgetting”. If you know you love jogging but aren’t a fan of bike riding, by all means incorporate jogging to help guarantee you will do it.

4. Write it Out: Don’t simply commit to memory what you plan on doing, write it down in a calendar or planner. With it written down, you are forced to stay accountable for it.

5. Diet: I believe that a healthy diet follows the recommendation of intake for foods like fruits and veggies, but also leaves room for treats in moderation. Pay attention to see that you are eating a majority of foods that have health value. This will assure that you will be properly fueled for whatever conditioning program you create, making it easier to follow.

6. Include “Wild Cards”: While some do best with strictly set guidelines, many feel restricted by them. Set “wild card” days in your schedule where you can try a new physical activity you have always wanted to in order to mix things up and keep you interested.

7. Remember What It’s For: With a society so focused on image, it can be easy to fixate yourself on setting a conditioning plan to help you lose weight or fit into a smaller size of clothes. The goal of your conditioning plan should, however, be based on performance and not aesthetic. If you are riding better, who cares if you still look the same?

Nicole Ponte

Avid eventer from New England with a soft spot for off-the-track Thoroughbreds.

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