Get riding fit: improve your leg strength

  • Welcome to part four of our six-part video series featuring exercises to improve your flexibility, strength and fitness for riding. This series is brought to you in association with Dee Holdsworth of Dynamic Sports Therapy

    A rider’s lack of flexibility, strength and fitness can severely limit their ability to perform, but by following the exercises in our videos, a relatively small investment in time can have far reaching positive effects on your performance as a rider.

    You should warm up your muscles by taking a brisk walk, or similar, after riding before performing any of these exercises. If you suffer any ongoing physical issues, we recommend you speak to a health professional before you start.

    Each exercise is shown at three different levels of difficulty, so you can choose the version that is most suitable to your current physical condition and then progress through the levels as you improve.

    How to improve your lower leg strength

    Control and strength of your lower leg is key to being an effective rider. The following exercises will benefit riders of all standards as they will help you to become more symmetrical in your leg strength. If you are weaker in one leg you will typically find that leg feels tighter on the horse as you are lacking stability.

    Exercise one: hip extension on the ball This helps you to build strength in your glutes and lower back in conjunction with the hamstrings. This will improve your ability to extend your leg from the hip while keeping the lower spine stabilised.

    Exercise two: wall squats These exercises will increase strength in your quads and glutes, which are vital when jumping and riding cross-country at speed.

    Exercise three: banded clam This exercise focuses on the flexibility of your outer hip to increase strength and stability of the pelvis. This will improve control of your leg, particularly while riding shapes and lateral work in the school.

    About Dee Holdsworth

    Dee is the founder of  Dynamic Sports Therapy. A keen rider, she has competed at national level and was part of the small stables team at the London 2012 Olympics. Dee works with some of the world’s leading horse and rider combinations, including some of those on track for Rio 2016.

    Dee is an equestrian sports science graduate from Hartpury College and went on to complete the International Therapy Examination Council Diploma in equine sports massage, delivered by veterinary chartered physiotherapist Mary Bromiley, and now stands as the ESMA Chairman.

    Dee is a level four sports massage therapist with the Sports Massage Association. She also holds certificates in human and equine kinesiology taping and muscle energy techniques, as well as using deep oscillation therapy.

    This video is brought to you in association with www.fitnesstroop.co.uk (Katie Brighton-Jones) www.shadowplay.co.uk (Philip E James) and www.performbetter.co.uk.

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