What Sort Of Fitness Training Is Best For Dressage Riders

As dressage riders, focusing on your fitness off the horse is often the missing ingredient to improve how you perform as a team. If you’re lacking in strength or your body’s alignment is compromised, this is going to affect your dressage riding and your horse’s movement.

By taking the time to improve your fitness and stretching to improve your mobility will not only help your dressage biomechanics but will also help extend your riding lifetime by keeping your body functioning optimally.

But just how much exercise should you do?



Every dressage rider is unique and so are their fitness needs

Figuring out exactly how much exercise you need to do in order to experience a difference when you’re in the saddle depends on a few factors:

1. Your current fitness level
2. How often you’re riding
3. Your daily movement

It’s important to understand, every dressage rider is unique and so are their fitness needs and level.

You see a rider who is working one horse twice a week may need to work on their fitness a little more than a rider who is working three horses every day.


Everybody is different.

What’s important is to understand how you move and how your body feels on and off the horse. If you spend most of the day sitting in an office, then your body will benefit from additional exercise off the horse to improve your biomechanics. Likewise, if you work in a job which requires you to mainly move only one side of your body, focusing on your strength and balance will help to correct your poor alignment. Or maybe you have had an injury in the past and you know you are stronger on one side than the other, ignoring this will only in time show up in your riding, because our horse ultimately reflects what is going on in our body with theirs.


Exercise will help prevent injuries

For those working at a desk most days, your hip flexors are likely to be tight. If you spend your day moving your body in one direction, you’re going to have one side very tight.

Just like when you’re servicing a car, exercising can help correct your biomechanics to improve your riding and prevent injuries. If you’re uneven or tight in areas, this puts a lot of pressure on your joints and ligaments, particularly when you’re riding with your horse’s strong movement underneath you.

If you think about when your car’s wheel alignment is off, damage can be done to the bearings and make driving a more difficult task. Same goes for us riders. Our body is not only struggling to freely move when tight and out of alignment, it’s also struggling to absorb the impact of the movement of our horse.

This causes undue stress on the body and over time you’ll experience wear and tear that has the potential to cause pain and injuries in the joints. Unfortunately, this is a common reason why many rider’s careers are cut short.

So, while there is no ‘one size, fits all’ rule when it comes to how much or how little you should exercise off the horse, we know it’s important to do some exercise. Obviously, the more you focus on improving your riding fitness, strength and balance the greater the results you’ll experience.

This is not only going to keep you in the saddle for longer, it’s also going to enhance your riding and thats what it is all about. I am yet to met someone who doesn’t have a tightness here or there and a weaker or stronger side to their body. This is normal and this is why we as riders work on our strength, balance and suppleness off the horse because this is what dressage is about. The straightness, balance, strength, suppleness and softness you are trying to create with your horse has to begin in you.

This is why I created our Dressage Rider Training program. Not to turn you into an olympic weightlifter or bendy yogi doing handstands. Its to help you perform efficiently as a dressage rider. Improving the right sort of strength, fitness and mobility to really improve your riding and to make it more enjoyable. Learn more about the program here.



The Ultimate

Dressage Rider Training Program

Join other participants on our 12-week 'step-by-step' online rider
training program. Improve the 5 components of your riding.

Only available 3x per year.

see full details & register your interest