Exercising to improve your riding

A few years ago I was a presenter at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. At the end of the event my mom drove down from Maine and picked the boys and me up and took us to her house. Jesse drove the horses back to Ohio and stayed their for a couple weeks before driving back to Maine to pick us up. It was a great trip for catching up with aging grandparents and family. It was one of the rare times we have enjoyed Thanksgiving in my hometown. But there was one drawback; no riding.

I’m sure I could have ridden a horse if I had tried. My mom had a rideable horse and so did friends but the weather was cold and I had ridden all summer, the break felt good and we kept busy.

When I returned home and began riding again I was surprised that I could feel a noticeable change in my riding strength. I could still do everything…but it was physically harder. After about a week I went for a deep tissue massage and mentioned that I was unusually sore. Her comment was, “Your not 20 anymore. You can’t sit down and expect nothing to change.”

Although this statement seems obvious, I can honestly say that during my time off visiting family I did not consider having any side effects. This time around I am considering what extended time off from riding will do. Using this knowledge I am also being proactive to prevent loss or even improve my fitness during this time.

I have never been one to workout. I never played sports (willingly) as a child and my only form of exercise was riding a horse. I have struggled with back troubles from the time I was a teen but even back then I noticed that I had fewer back issues during the summer as compared to the winter. When I was in high school my chiropractor also noticed and explained that a loss of muscle tone over the winter was causing my problems. This fit because I did ride less in the winter due to the heavy snow in Maine.fitness and horseback riding

Once I became a full time horse trainer I rode all winter. Fitness problem solved…but age also began to sneak in. I still required semi regular chiropractor appointments but I also learned that massages helped my adjustments stay longer. Both professionals also suggested stretching.

Now I do yoga and have found that by doing regular stretching and strength building I can maintain myself much better. I aim to do yoga every other day. I have never been to a yoga class because we travel so much but instead I follow along with a DVD. This particular DVD has five, 20 minute sessions on it which I rotate through.

I have been doing these yoga sessions for several years now and I am impressed at how much flexibility I have regained. It has also made me stronger and improved my balance.

Horseback riding is still my preferred method of exercise. I would rather ride a horse for two hours than spend 20 minutes working out in a gym…but I’m not 20 anymore, so I realize I might have to work a little bit more to fully enjoy it.


Several of you asked which yoga DVD I use so I am listing it here with a link for more info:



  1. Gerry Elias on September 11, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I have recently discovered Pilates to help a friend that needed a low-impact ease into exercise routine. I really just started to help her, but was amazed at the strength and endurance increase I noticed when I ride! I really prefer anything horse (I’ll run in the free-lunge arena before I jog for exercise) over deliberate exercising, BUT I believe we’ll be doing Pilates this winter!

  2. Sara Starkey on July 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I use the Balance Rider and love it. I get the core strength and spinal flex attributes enhanced, but it also reduces the back pain AND my arthritis is not as inflamed. Posture is better and I have more confidence/balance. (I am 64, and riding is not easy for me, anymore.) It is a little tricky at first, but it is easy and sweat free. Makes the other exercise (upper body) easier for me, too.

  3. Tom Shull on June 25, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Simple, regular yoga helps my back, but calisthenics and weightlifting help, too. I couldn’t imagine riding without conditioning — but then, I’m not 20 anymore either.

  4. Gail Ottoman on June 24, 2015 at 1:15 am

    I have chronic pancreatitis because I was born with a defective pancreas. I have a very well trained wonderful 13 triple reg. Gelding who is very smooth and kind but I have been afraid to ride after 58 years of riding. I need to know the name of the yoga classes that you use with the stretching because I got a twisted colon and I had to have emergency surgery but I didn’t recover like I should have. I also need to checkout your website because I am a big fan of yours. Thank you! Gail

  5. Nancy on June 23, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Stacy, what tape do you like to do yoga to with the 5 workouts?

  6. Lynda on June 23, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    As a massage therapist I totally get how maintenance increases as I age. I too love to ride for exercise but as I get older, strength training & yoga helps support my legs and core/spine. I look forward to trail riding with my grandchildren. With prior preparation I hope to keep myself in the saddle!

  7. Chris on June 23, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I like you Stacy have never been into exercise. Being a rancher there are all the ranch aerobics that are on going and then I ride. Later on in life though I have slowed down on some of the ranch chores and have found 2 things that I think have made a world of difference in what I can do and how I feel. Zumba (I love to dance and think it’s fun, even if it can be very hard work) in the winter and yoga (more so winter but also try to go a couple of times a week in the summer). Great for body and mind.

  8. Ellen on June 23, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    We even promote it in our lesson program!

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