The influence of an 8-week rider core fitness program
When training our horses we mainly focus on their physical capabilities: are they strong enough to execute certain exercises, are they able to canter a straight line,… . However, we barely ever stop to think about how our own physical condition influences our horse’s performance. Hampson et al. executed an 8-week exercise trial to examine this effect.
10 horse-rider duos were recruited and tested twice: once before an 8-week training plan for the riders, once after. Left-right mean pressure difference, maximal overall force exerted on the equine back and equine stride length were measured.
The video-based fitness program consisted of a 20-minute session, aimed at improving core strength, hip stability and flexibility. The riders were asked to execute this training 3 times per week, for 8 consecutive weeks.
After the program there was a significant decrease in left-right mean pressure difference: the riders were more symmetrical. The other two parameters did not change on a statistically significant level, which makes it impossible to draw any conclusions. Additionally, several subjective changes were noted: both riders and coaches reported seeing and feeling improvement in seat, stability and strength of the rider, as well as improved performance and enhanced straightness of the horses.
How about you? Do you pay special attention to your own fitness to improve your riding performance?
Expert opinion by Charlotte De Bruyne
The methodological quality of this study is B level using the GRADE quality of evidence score. This implies that the study design was not optimal, but this does not mean that the results cannot be of use. Larger studies are necessary to provide waterproof evidence; however, it is very likely that working on your core strength and stability will benefit the performance of your equestrian team.
> From: Hampson et al., Int J Perform Anal Sport 15 (2015) 1145-1159. All rights reserved to Informa PLC. Click here for the online summary.