How Pilates can help you become a better Horse Rider

Our blog posts are often about exercise specific fitness. However fitness is only one parameter of performance. Neuromuscular control or skill is also a massive element to performance. Horse riding clearly requires a certain level of fitness. However depending on the discipline, it doesn’t require the riders to be the fittest or strongest athletes. But the skill level required to ride a horse either over jumps, on the flat or to essentially dance with the horse in dressage is extremely high.

This level of skill is required principally for safety first i.e. to stay on the animal. Then it is required to be in harmony with the horse and to guide it in the direction or at the speed required. For example the rider’s body position needs to be in the correction alignment to allow the horse to operate at maximum efficient whether that be executing a turn or jump or moving fast in a straight line. All the while the rider needs to remain on the horse to prevent negative impacts on health and score/position in the race/event.

Rider using her core strength to guide and control the horse

The rider’s central body position needs to be held still but at the same time be able to move and flow to accommodate perturbations as the horse moves. The relative stillness of the rider’s body allows them to use their upper and lower limbs unimpaired by any jolting or change of direction force that may be applied to them during the horse’s journey around the course.
High skill levels are not unique to horse riding but if rating the relative mix of skill and all physical fitness parameters required for a sport, horse riding especially show jumping would require a greater proportion of skill training than fitness training.
The core control required for effective horse riding can be trained by using Pilates exercises. It is of course possible to become very strong using Pilates exercises but the main element of this type of exercise is learning to control movement and move smoothly. Pilates emphasises smooth movement of arms and legs on a stable but not rigid trunk, which would be perfect for getting in to neuromuscular shape for horse riding.
For more information on Pilates at Back in Action UK, call us on 020 7480 5976.
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