So, are you fit for purpose?

Horses are fed according to their needs, and that their diet contains the correct feed and supplements necessary for their workload, so apply the same rules to your diet too. We need protein, fats and carbs to correctly feed our bodies. The brain requires fuel in the form of glucose, and carbs easily provide an available supply, but the damage comes if this comes in the form of sugary foods. If protein is added along with correct carbs, you’ll stay fuller for longer and won’t reaching for the biscuits tin. Fresh fruit, salads and vegetables are also important, so if you need a snack after ride, try grabbing some nuts or fruit. Remember, remember and remember to stay hydrated, preferably water and at least two litres per day. Sports drinks contain large amounts of sugars, so be careful.

Did you know that each and every day you are overweight, your joints, lungs and heart are continually put under strain? Losing weight is not easy, so make sure you do it for yourself, not anyone else.

Maintain your physical fitness and body strength and consider including some fun activities such as skipping, running, cycling, swimming and weight training into your schedule.

Your horse will thank you if your suppleness and balance are under control, as he will not have to carry a rider who is slouching and thumping about in the saddle!

Pilates is a fitness system recommended by many riders. It develops good core muscle strength, which helps to achieve and maintain good balance and alignment. Yoga is recommended for improving flexibility. Check fitness centres and village halls for classes. They’re good fun too!!

Balancing on an exercise ball in a riding position while watching TV can aid balance and improve core tone. Plus you could learn a lot about your riding faults too. Do you roll to the front, side or back and which side do you favour, right or left and what muscles to you have to stimulate to steady yourself?

What about that core? Your core is not just your tummy – it’s your whole trunk. It controls the position of your hips, seat bones, shoulders and posture, so now maybe you can see why it’s essential to balanced riding.

Many people favour one side of their body and will unconsciously lean slightly to one side? This can cause issues with the fit of the saddle as the rider will not be putting equal pressure on the stirrups due to their body position.

Try this exercise next time you’re on your horse. While he’s at halt stand up straight in your stirrups – no leaning or hovering – and maintain your balance. Then progress to walk, trot and canter whilst still standing!! You’ll certainly put those core muscles through a workout. Also why not have a go at mucking out on both sides, to help even your body up.

If you are unfit, your horse will not perform well, as you will not have the strength or stamina needed to ride him correctly. However, on the up side, a fit and balanced rider can help a horse to improve.

Finally - that Saturday/Sunday ‘morning-after’ feeling when you can’t remove your head from the pillow, but you know you have to get up to see to your horse. A large glass of wine, or pint of beer, contains around three units of alcohol, while a glass of spirits is one unit.

If you weigh 60kg (9st 4lb) and have a glass of wine, you will almost be at the UK legal limit for driving, plus it will take three to four hours to get out of your system. Two glasses and you will be having fun and slightly tipsy, but the alcohol will now take more than five hours to clear. However, when you become intoxicated, maybe drinking around six glasses through the evening, you will remain legally drunk for the next ten hours. Plus….you can be charged with being drunk in control of a horse!!

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