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Cross Training for Improving the Equestrian's Endurance and Coordination

Julie Frykman

Posted on November 26 2014

Winter Cross Training by Suzannah Simon of SKS Dressage

As I am sitting here on this unseasonably chilly November afternoon, I can not help but think about this winter to come.  Though the 3 pairs of socks and 2 thick layers of insulated breeches should do the trick in keeping me toasty, I shiver at the thought of being confined to an indoor!  So, how do I keep the cabin fever at bay throughout the chillier months…CROSS TRAINING!  It is important to continue to school regular movements, but cross training can help build horse and rider agility, endurance and coordination by the addition of complementary or cross training.

Lunge line lessons…yes you heard me right, it’s not just for beginners!  Winter can be a great time to go back to the basics and prefect a confident lower leg, quiet hands or isolating seat. This is something that I personally do in order to build a stronger core and lengthen my lower leg (yes we all can find something to work on)!

Suzannah Simon riding

Keys for success:

  1. Like all things equestrian, SAFETY FIRST!
  2. Have a trusted pair of eyes on the ground that can lunge efficiently and give you good advice as to how to improve your overall position.
  3. Always use a horse that has lunging and side rein experience in order to create a safe and successful environment for both horse and rider!

Poles, Cavalettis and light jumping…whether you are an advanced jumper or opt to have a hoof on the ground at all times, pole and distance exercises can be a great way to mix up your ride and help your equine partner possess confidence.  Poles and small jumps can also build strength and coordination for the rider as he or she learns to be conscious of riding all four (4) corners of the horse as well as overall balance.  I have also noticed that after a few lines of correct jumping, my horses and I generally communicate better, with less aids needed and more accuracy.

Keys for success:

  1. Have preset distances in mind that are appropriate for you horse or pony. Every stride is different!
  2. Know your limits. If you are jumping, be conscious of you AND your partner’s skill level.
  3. Always jump with a buddy or let someone know that you will be taking fences. It’s more fun and promotes a culture of equine safety.

Hit the gym or pool…now is the perfect time of year to start getting into the habit of frequenting the gym, yoga studio, or indoor track.  It does take time and commitment, but we owe it to our equine partners to be the best riders possible!  Personally, having a set time and schedule each week devoted to off-horse training which really helps me to be consistent!  Also, having an accountability partner that pushes or challenges me can make all the difference in my regiment. 

Keys for success:         

  1. Have a plan. Find the workout that works for you.  Not only will it be more fun, but sticking with it will be easier.
  2. In whatever you do (lifting, swimming, running) make sure you have the right technique to reduce the chances of injury & never be afraid to ask for help.
  3. Find a buddy! As I said before, personally, it helps to have someone that not only keep me accountable, but also challenges me to work harder and be the best I can be!!

In closing, stay warm, and don’t forget that spring is just around the corner ;)

Until next time my fellow Equestrianistas,

Suzannah K. Simon


Dressage competitor/trainer - Suzannah Simon. 




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