DID YOU KNOW ... 70% of the UKs population are classed as overweight! And us horse riders can also be known to carry a few extra pounds! According to recent research, one third of recreational horse riders are too heavy for their horses. This can put horses at health risks including, bad backs, arthritis and lameness. The study consisted of 152 horses from Devon and Cornwall and found that just 1 in 20 riders were within the optimum weight range. As well as overweight riders causing health issues, it has also shown to cause behavioural issues in horses, such as bucking, rearing and disobedience.
Excess baggage however does not only affect the horse! Extra weight puts much strain on your own joints, lungs and heart! The amount of energy an overweight person has to use is much greater than someone of a normal healthy weight. This extra weight that is being carried whilst your riding can cause you to get tired quickly, out of breath, place extra strain on your joints and extra strain on your vital organs.
We all know its not easy to loose weight, and the biggest hurdle of all is to start trying! Get over that and your half way there! Take small steps at first, small changes to your diet and more exercise is a great start!
Horse riding is a high-risk sport in which, so often, we prioritise our horses welfare over our own!
As riders we spend lots of time and money exercising, training and caring for our horses every day - and our horses usually have the best treatment and are on best form and in tip top condition; but in order to be the best combination possible, and to work successfully as a team both you, the rider, and your horse need to be in peak physical condition.
So why is rider fitness so important?
Horse riding, like ALL other sports, requires a certain level of fitness and energy to carry out the activities within the sport. Purves (2006) stated that the rider should be as fit as the horse for the task they need to complete in order to have a successful partnership. We could not agree more!!!
Physical fitness is an important factor in horse riding. It is important to enable riders to move in balance with the horse with free and flexible movements. It is important that riders are fit as it will enable them to ride more safely, reduce risk of injury and pain, be effective with their riding and develop mental confidence. The fitter the rider is the quicker they are able to respond and so the risk of injury is reduced!
There are several key components that are very important in horse riding.
So maybe its time to start thinking about getting yourself fit for the season and not just your horse!