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Equestrian Advice & Guides Beginners Advice
Let’s talk about cars for a second… and not just any cars; I’m talking Formula 1 racing cars. Why? Just bear with me here…
I think it’s safe to say, unless you are a fan of Formula 1 and follow the sport closely, you could say all the cars look exactly the same and do the same job; they all drive super fast round a track for hours on end, right? At the end of the day they are just machines.
Yet each formula 1 team has a highly trained pit crew, a team that works on finding the best tyres and the best temperature those tyres perform at, fuel experts to make the car quicker and more efficient, mechanics ensuring the engine is functioning to its best, geniuses behind the scenes designing and redesigning the shape and aerodynamics of the vehicle… the list goes on! There are literally thousands of people all working to get that one machine to handle the best, to be quicker and lighter than everybody else’s. All this work and hundreds of millions of pounds spent on shaving what comes down to just 0.005 of a second off the lap time to gain a qualifying position.
Now, let’s get to my point before I lose you and you check that you are still reading an equestrian blog...
All this attention to detail goes into shaving a mere 0.005 seconds off a lap time.
It’s a machine but it takes all this work to achieve the slightest improvement.
The horses we ride are not machines. So why do we overlook the small details when it comes to improving our horses' way of going?
Yes, we may change his bit, a different saddle pad, a comfort bridle with the headpiece cut away, a fluffy girth… but what about us as riders? We make up 50% of the partnership, yet we don’t focus on the detail when it comes down to ourselves.
Details such as our diets, our aches and pains, our fitness levels, our strength and mobility – just like the car, the list is endless.
If we can focus on one point at a time, slowly, the whole partnership will flourish.
Start with building a strong core. A rider's core is like a car's chassis; without it you aren't going to be able to support the rest of the vehicle, the wheels will be wobbling around and you won't get from A to B in the most efficient way. Build your core and then you will develop an independent hand; you don’t need your hand to balance yourself anymore, making your horse relax over his top line.
A simple way to do this is to start doing a plank twice a day for just 30 seconds and build yourself up over a couple of weeks. The plank is a great exercise as its low impact, so even if you have joint pain you should be able to do a plank. Once you can hold the standard plank for a minute, increase the difficulty by tapping your shoulders or reaching away with the opposite hand and foot; concentrate on keeping your hips level and this will also improve your stability.
To see these in action – along with a couple of other variations – and get an idea of what you're aiming for, you can watch this little example video I uploaded to my Instagram account > NMA Fitness - Planks For Equestrians
I challenge you, as a rider, to focus on the detail and watch your partnership with your horse improve.