Desperate to go skiing but struggling to justify such an expense so soon after Christmas? Here's several reasons skiing can help with your riding, and ensure a guilt free holiday!
Active Family Holiday
Many horse riders are accustomed to an active lifestyle and dislike sitting still (or sunbathing!) Skiing offers an active, exhilarating and sociable holiday. You can enjoy skiing guilt-free because you will be having a holiday, keeping fit and improving your riding simultaneously. Sounds too good to be true, but (apart from the price tag) it's not!
Skiing involves moving all 4 limbs separately, whilst keeping your torso strong and centred, exactly as riding does. Practising skiing helps you to develop an independent seat because you learn to separate the limb movements from each other and from your core.
To stay centred over your skis, you have to be in perfect balance. If you lean too far back you will go too fast on your skis; too far forward and you will fall on your face! When we ride, minute imbalances in the rider don’t always cause a significant or immediate change in the horse’s way of going (particularly on a less reactive horse), which makes it difficult for the rider to learn when they are in perfect balance and when they are not. In skiing, if you aren’t in perfect balance you will fall over, so you have no choice but to perfect your balance very quickly!
Good skiers turn in an even rhythm, constantly shifting their weight from one leg to the other. This closely mimics riding lots of changes of rein, or doing lateral work on both reins. Riders that ride only one horse tend to find that they and their horses become accustomed to each other’s crookedness, and compensate for one another. With skiing, the live element of the horse is eliminated so if lateral imbalances exist you will fall over. Skiing forces you to learn new movement patterns that are equal on both sides.
If you haven’t skied before, it can be very daunting at first. Whilst you are finding it difficult to turn, keeping in rhythm and balance, experienced people are flying past you at speed, often far too close by! Sounds a bit like a showjumping warm up?! This forces you to keep focused on your own performance and to stay ‘in the zone’, otherwise you will fall over. So, skiing is great practice at keeping your cool in intimidating situations, which can only benefit your competitive riding.
Do you find that skiing helps your riding? Do you have other ways of keeping active on holiday?
Lucy Field-Richards : Lucy owns Ride Fit Equestrian, and is from Nottinghamshire.
Qualifications : First class BSc (Hons) Equine Sports Science (Equestrian Psychology), BHSAI, Diploma in Equine Sports Massage Therapy
Lucy is a lecturer in Equine Science at Nottingham Trent University.
More EQUESTRIAN FITNESS HERE