Simple exercises can help you keep fit during the winter when there is less time in which to ride, says HORSE magazine

Doing extra exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when it’s dark and cold outside. But shorter days mean less time to ride making it easy for riders to stiffen up and lose body tone.

However, simple exercises lasting around half an hour, two or three times a week, is all it takes to keep your riding muscles toned. Here are two exercises from HORSE magazine’s exercise programme which has been designed to help keep riding muscles toned.

Relax your shoulders

Riding with an incorrect shoulder position can cause many problems with your rein contact, as the arms and hands transmit tension directly to your horse’s mouth.

Sitting on a chair, roll one shoulder at a time, forwards, up and back, then both together. This will help release any tension in yourshoulders. Stretch through your upper body and keep your head still as you do this exercise. Concentrate on returning your shoulders to the back-and-down position in between the rolls.

Next, lift one shoulder then the other, then both together. Relax. Repeat these movements four times. The shoulder shrugs will increase your ability to keep your shoulders down and relaxed.

Improve your contact

This exercise will help you to feel what your arms and hands are doing when you ride and work on developing a more subtle feel for the contact.

Hang your arms down by your sides, then bend each elbow in turn to a right angle and lower again. Repeat with the other arm, then with both, to bring them into the correct riding position.

For more advice on staying riding fit this winter, see the eight-page fitness special in the December issue of HORSE magazine, on sale now. Click here to subscribe to HORSE magazine at a special pre-Christmas rate.