Rider Fitness | Developing Riding Fit Legs

Planning for Success


Whether you actively compete your horse or ride for pleasure, the fitter you are the more pleasure you will get from your riding. Improving the quality of your riding experience will also reduce those aches and pains and out of breath moments at the end of a cross country course or during a lesson.


The exercises are designed to be worked in the home environment but as with all things in life you only get back what you put in. As the workouts are shorter this enables the rider to make the most of the time allocated to their training session and psychologically it becomes both more manageable and achievable. This is in turn creates an increased feeling of self-control and the ability to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. ‘Sticking to it’ and not being distracted will yield phenomenal results.


1. Ankle Stretch


This is an excellent stretch for the equestrian athlete because of thecompression caused by having your foot in the stirrup and pressing theball of the foot on thestirrup iron. Just place the outside toes on the floor and allow the front of the foot to got towards the ground. This will stretch the front of the ankles.

Ankle Stretch for Equestrian Athletes

Rider Fitness- Ankle Stretch


2. Split Squats


  1. Stand up straight with your hands on your hips, shoulders pushed down.
  2. Step forward with your one leg, taking a slightly larger than normal step.
  3. Then lower your body until the front thigh is parallel to the ground (only go half way if you find this
  4. too hard).
  5. The back knee should be bent and lowered to the ground but don’t let it touch.
  6. Keep your upper body upright position at all times by contracting your glutes and abs.
  7. Repeat this ten times then change legs.
Rider Fitness - Split Squats, The Equestrian Athlete

Rider Fitness - Split Squats

The Split Squat for The Equestrian Athlete, Rider Fitness

Rider Fitness - The Split Squat


3. Tube Walks


  1. Take the band and place it under the soles of the feet, ideally under the arches
  2. Start with the feet hip width apart.  Lift leg as if lifting over a match box, pushing the leg away from the body
  3. Then lift the trail leg in exactly the same manner, so you are back at the start position
  4. Keep the knees slightly flexed throughout.
Leg & Hip Strength for The Equestrian Athlete, Rider Fitness

Rider Fitness - Leg and Hip Strength


4. Hip Ups


  1. Lay on your back with your hands out wide with your palms facing up in the air.
  2. Your back is flat on the ground, Knees bent and feet slightly apart but also flat.
  3. Push the top of your back into the ground, whilst at the same time squeezing your glutes (bum) and push your hips up into the air.
  4. Ensure the emphasis is on squeezing your bum rather than just lifting your hips.
  5. Raise up until your shoulders, hips and knees are in line.
  6. Hold for 2 seconds at the top before and lowering.
  7. Return to the start position and repeat.


The Hip Up for The Equestrian Athlete, Rider Fitness

Rider Fitness - The Hip Up



By using exercises that open up the hip and lengthen the short hip flexors (on the front of the hip) you will develop

and maintain excellent hip mobility. Also, by mobilising the ankle joint you will lessen the compression in the joint.

Short hip flexors and ankles that are compressed cause lower back pain and reduce leg strength. This is so important

to all Equestrian Athletes, due to the Range Of Movement needed about the ankle for rising or sitting trot, canter and

for that matter every phase and transition.

Have a great day and enjoy your riding by being fit to ride.

My Best



Author of The Equestrian Athlete Plan




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