“Wellington is basically a fantasy world for horse lovers.” This is the conclusion drawn by the writer of a recent article in The Business Insider. It is a lengthy piece highlighting the celebrities at Wellington, complete with photos of their gorgeous homes and barns. Then the article gets to the heart of the equestrian sport, “succeeding in competitions requires some combination of hard work and a love for the sport.” The writer observed, accurately, that the equestrian athletes at Wellington had two things in common, an “intense work ethic and an obsession with horses.”
Off-Horse Fitness Training
The 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival at Wellington ends it’s 39th year on April 1st. That means now is the time for riders who are serious athletes to focus that intense work ethic on their year-round training plan. In addition to plenty of time in the saddle, making it to the elite equestrian levels requires off-horse fitness training. Ideally, rider fitness training will focus on stamina, endurance, strength, and flexibility. The athlete should grow in their “muscle sense”. Muscle sense is the ability to sense the position and movement of their body and it parts. This usually takes 60-90 minutes of training, three or four days a week. In Wellington, there is a need for an equestrian fitness program that can transform elite riders into champion riders.
Strength and Body Control
Competitive adult riders know that off-horse training must enhance and increase their skills when they are back in the saddle. They also understand the need for strong legs, a strong core, and flexibility. But this focus can cause the equestrian athlete to downplay the importance of things like upper body strength, proper symmetry, body control, and powerful lumbar muscles in the lower back.
The English Rider Handbook devotes a lot of space to physical fitness. The section on the importance of lower back strength makes several important points. “To support the rider’s back and pelvis, the rider needs very good core strength. The core muscles which support good posture are in the rider’s stomach, sides, back and pelvis from the tailbone and floor of pelvis, up to the occipital joint where the rider’s head and neck connect. From a skeletal point of view, the low back is a human weak point where, for a few inches of the torso’s length, the entire human structure is connected from top to bottom by a few inches of spinal column. The opportunity for injury in the lower back is tremendous because it is the most foldable section of the back.”
Five Star Riders
In addition to building strength in key areas, an effective equestrian fitness training program will identify all the movements associated with top athletic performance. It will then systematically train the rider to perfect them. Every equestrian athlete’s goal is to become a 5-Star rider. If you want to get to that level in competition, you have to train at a certain level off the horse. At Resilient Fitness, our staff understands through first-hand experience what competitive riders need to have in their workouts to experience unbroken progress toward the top level of the sport. We know that you are an athlete and you need to train like one.
As the Festival comes to a close here in the “Equestrian Capital of the World“, we invite you to schedule a time to talk with us about your year-round training needs. We want to see you at the top of your event as much as you want to be there.