Here are a few suggestions for making 2016 your best horsey year yet.
1. Beat confidence demons
Confidence issues? If anxiety has stopped you doing as much as you’d like in 2015, now is the time to get on top of it. The Rider Confidence Course run by the Centre of Horseback Combat is highly recommended by many riders, as it combines neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques with the practical experience of being taught how to fall safely from a moving horse. Jenni Winters and Amanda Kirtland-Page are amongst the NLP practitioners that also have a good track record in helping riders through confidence issues — more information can be found about them on their websites.
2. Increase your potassium
According to HealthFitnessRevolution.com, which offers fitness advice to equestrians, potassium — a mineral we consume every day — aids muscle contraction and prevents cramping, so can help you maintain a better hold on your horse with your legs. It’s found in bananas, white beans and sweet potatoes — so eat more of them!
3. Take up pilates or yoga — or equilates
If you really want to improve your core strength which is so important for maintaining a good position on your horse, then pilates or yoga is a great way to go. Equilates is even better, as it’s been developed with an understanding of the issues horse riders face. Sitting in the saddle for hours on end isn’t really a natural thing to do, and places strain on our bodies. If there isn’t a class anywhere near you, then check out eventer Gemma Tattersall’s Equestrian Pilates DVD at www.gemmatattersall.com/equestrianpilates, also available from Amazon.
4. Join your local riding club
Riding clubs are awesome. Not only do they usually offer discounted lessons with excellent instructors to members, but you’ll also get access to clinics, camps, competitions, and of course the social side. True, too much of the social side might have a slightly adverse effect on your riding but the good news is, it’s only temporary! Visit www.bhs.org for details of your local club.
5. Learn the biomechanics of riding
Do you constantly experience a niggling riding problem such as your foot slipping out of the stirrup, or your knee coming up? Biomechanics is the study of how the body moves, and rider biomechanics specifically addresses issues like these, looking at why they happen and how to correct them. Level one coach Fran Griffin is running a rider biomechanics course at Brandy House Farm, Wales in June (www.brandyhousefarm.co.uk) and Centaur Biomechanics has a full programme of courses and clinics in Warwickshire (www.centaurbiomechanics.co.uk).