Why should I train off my horse?

Training Considerations for Horse-Riders

Horse riding is a skill. Nothing will take away from the skill which you learn from being on top of a horse, and that, of course should be any horse riders number one priority. There are however a number of things riders can do, from the ground which will transfer towards ridden performance.

Here are some of the reasons below, ask me questions by commenting below for more information!

training considerations

Psycho-emotional stress:

High levels of anxiety (positive or negative) will cause high heart rates. Horse riding is mentally concentrative and riders will be exposed to this type of stress. It has been proven that the fitter you are the better you cope with emotional strain and high heart rates.

Off-Set Injury:

If you have read the long term participant development document, or just by observation you will know riders have longevity in athletic career. It is an early start late specialization sport. Age 3-60+, that’s a long time to develop and accumulate injury. A stronger, healthier body will off-set these injuries.

Horse Riding bears minimal loading. It is advisable for riders to include some loading, running, jumping and listing weights. There are reports of riders having strong muscles and weak bones. Not a great combination…..snap!

 Skill and co-ordination

If you are fitter, you will ward of those nasty fatigue metabolites that make you feel a bit woozy and light headed. No one can make good decisions under the effects of fatigue. The fitter you are, the less fatigue you accumulate. The less fatigue, the better your skill and decision making, kind of important when your sitting on the back of half a tonne of animal with its own free will!

You are an athlete too!

Its vitally important riders work on themselves. It’s hard to become straighter, more symmetrical and stronger when you are working on the horse at the same time. It’s fairer to your horse to work on yourself without compromising the aids to them.


We already mentioned that you ride for a long time in your life; sometimes it gets a bit repetitive. Burnout and drop out are common as riders enter the ‘training to compete’ stage in their riding career.  Training off the horse can add another dimension to your equestrian athleticism.

Coping with physiological demands

Ill bore you with my PhD findings some other time. The breakdown is that horse riding IN COMPETITION is hard. Heart rate is high, blood lactate is at threshold levels etc etc Truth be told, many (not all) riders train for longer durations on multiple horses but at less intense work rates than what they do in competition. To be competition fit, you need to expose your body to those levels above which you expect in competition. Off horse training can achieve this without overdoing it for your horse.

So, lots of reasons to get your butt in the gym, or start exercising at home. I have plenty of options to help you and by commenting any questions you have I will start posting regular question and answer videos to support you further!

x Jenni.

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