Whether you are an avid or casual rider, you become quickly aware of the impact that horseback riding has on your entire body. From the bottom of your feet all the way through the palms of your hands, the body is forced to absorb the movements and impact of the animal underneath you. Without balance, strength, stamina and endurance, the activity would be painful! Preparing your body with Pilates is a great way to ensure that you are ready to ride.
Here are a “hand” ful (horse pun intended) of exercises done on some of our favorite pieces of Pilates equipment that will help with balance, strength, stamina and endurance:
(beginner to advanced) Facing the Reformer Risers, hands in neoprene handles, arms extended at the shoulders, palms of the hands facing the footbar, seated or kneeling; Pull the straps an even pace by the side of the body, maintaining balance and length through the rest of the body, control the movement so the carriage doesn’t hit the stoppers. Play around with a smaller range of motion for the first 5 repetitions and then see how big you can make the moves for the last 5 repetitions.
Tricep Presses on the Reformer
(beginner to advanced) Facing the Reformer Risers, hands in neoprene handles, seated or kneeling; Flex and extend at the elbows to pull the straps an even pace by the side of the body, maintaining balance and length through the rest of the body, again, control the movement so the carriage doesn’t hit the stoppers. Alternate turning the palms of the hands into the body and facing the footbar. Advanced option to hinge at the waist during tricep presses. Do at least 5 repetitions of each variation.
Single Leg in Straps on the Reformer
(beginner to advanced) On your back on the reformer, one foot in the strap at a time. Start with scissor kicks, separating the long legs apart in opposition (like scissors). Next do Legs Lower Lift, in parallel and external rotation followed by leg circles, keeping the legs on the same schedule during all the movements. Do at least 5 repetitions of each then switch legs.
Thigh Stretch at the Spring Board with the Bosu
(beginner to advanced) Kneeling on the Bosu, Facing the Springboard, 2 yellow springs, handles at the #4; Pull the springs back at the sides of the body, keep the springs at the sides while you hinge at the knees to lean the upper body back in a straight line. Repeat 5 times then maintain the upper body hinge as you hinge at the waist to bring the glutes to hovering above the heels then back to the hinge position. Be careful not to lean forward on this one.
Horseback on the Ladder Barrel
(intermediate to advanced) Side Seated on the Ladder Barrel with the legs on either side of the barrel, arms extended long by the sides with a slight hinge at the waist; Laterally rotate the palms of the hands and arms upward while the inner thighs squeeze the barrel & the pelvis tilts back into a neutral position then lift the glutes off the barrel and hover above the barrel like your “off the saddle.”