Horse riding is an underestimated sport. Riders need to have strong quads and a stable core to ride for long periods of time without tiring. Along with fitness comes the importance of bodyweight as well, which has an effect on one’s performance. So let’s take a look at fitness and diet tips from the UK’s top horse riders that riders of any level should consider.

Keeping active

With more riders taking part in competitions, they need to stay constantly active and in top shape. Equestrian Lizzie Kelly told The Guardian how she exercises frequently in order to keep on top of her weight. In describing her daily routine, she says, “I work[out] 7am until 1pm and 4pm to 6pm every day when I’m not racing, I’m very active and that always helps as you are constantly burning whatever you are eating.” Her training routine is what helped Kelly become one of the world’s best riders. As a result, Lizzie Kelly is now considered one of the UK’s most iconic sports stars due to being the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 National Hunt race in Britain. She understands that in order to win, you need to put in the hours outside horse riding. A typical high-intensity interval training session could involve box jumps, kettle bells or dumbbell swings, bear crawls, and skipping. Incorporating a few repetitions of these kinds of exercises will improve your fitness and stamina levels, which will have a positive impact on your riding ability.

Diet and weight

Horse riders these days control their dietary intake to perform at their very best. Dr. Sue Dyson of the Animal Health Trust discussed the potential risks to horses when their riders are too heavy, such as lameness and discomfort. However, keeping yourself at a healthy weight is often as simple as being aware of the quality and quantity of the food you eat.

Charlotte Dujardin is a three-time Olympic gold medallist in dressage. She's known for winning the gold in both the single and team dressage events in the 2012 Olympics. In a separate interview with The Guardian, she said that she works with a trainer to get the right amounts of protein, carbs, and fats, making sure her diet is attuned to her activity for the day. She often has an egg omelette on wholemeal toast for breakfast, a chicken wrap and a salad for lunch, and a healthy meal consisting of meat and vegetables for dinner. Any rider can improve their diet by eating more fruit, vegetables, and grains for low calorie alternatives that don’t compromise your health. By having a healthy weight you will be able to rider for longer without causing discomfort to your horse.

The importance of days off

While keeping constantly active and eating well is essential, this doesn't mean you shouldn't have any days off. Rest is what allows our bodies to heal from the constant strain, and it's also what helps keep our mental stamina in check. The British show jumper Amanda Derbyshire has won several competitions such as the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3*, and currently has her eyes set on the 2020 Olympics. Despite her intense training regime and big dreams, she still finds the time to take a breather. She told Horse and Hound, that she often takes Mondays off to go to the beach and drink margaritas. Equestrians of any level still need to find the time to take a break and relax, because this is what allows them to get back on the horse stronger than before.
Sophie Amber
Published in Trot On Blogs