Strength Training For Dressage

Learn why strength training is so important as we age and why we must pay attention to deliberately incorporating it into our lives.

DRT is now 6 years old and I have become extremely passionate about helping riders enjoy their riding more. With our average participant aged 55, and our eldest 81, I think I can shed some light into the importance of strength training and its impact it can have on your riding.

Ask any older horse owner whats important to them and you will receive answers like remaining independent, being able to ride pain free, confidence in the saddle, being mentally sharp and staying active enough to ride and continue to ride as long as they choose.


Active aging

Active aging that supports a high quality of life to include riding doesn’t happen by accident. This is especially true when it comes to riding.

Less exercise and activity means weaker bones, reduced muscle strength and flexibility, which leads to health problems that make riding that much more difficult.

So, while riding is a great form of movement, in order to be able to maintain that movement ability long term and to a standard where you feel safe and confident means you need to ensure you are doing something to combat the ageing process. Because as we age, we get weaker, unfortunately there is no escaping this.

So to combat this, strength training is key.

By strength, I’m not implying we need to be olympic weightlifters and lift crazy heavy weights in the gym. What we do need to be focusing on is enhancing our body’s biomechanics and preserving muscle mass. This will ensure you are maintaining muscle mass and fighting the inevitable ageing process.

(Also as a side note, don’t fear getting bulky, because do not underestimate how hard it is to build muscle and how extremely hard it is for females in particular to put on muscle mass and retain it ;)).

The muscle mass you build today is what will help you in your later years. Have a read of this article here going into more detail on this.

Now the strength I am talking about, isn’t about extremes, it is instead about preserving and maintaining your ability to enjoy your life, remain independent and most importantly keep riding.

I have said it before, that I want to be still riding on my 80th birthday, so what I do matters today.


Maintaining functional strength

One of the biggest reasons the elderly lose their independence and need to go into care is through losing their ability to perform everyday tasks, that require strength. Like squatting to go to the toilet and lifting heavy objects around the home.

Now when it comes to riding, often the first thing to go is your stability and your coordination. Your ability to react quickly, after this then comes the gradual decline in strength over time. It’s inevitable unfortunately and just something we all have to deal with as we age.

So in order to maintain your confidence and ability as a rider into your later years and to continue to ride safely we need to actively age well. We all know what anti-aging skin care does for our skin, well anti-aging in the terms of your physical ability is your strength training and mobility work.

Doing this regularly today as your daily routine as you would your skincare regime.

To be able to continue to put the saddle on, muck out and do the general chores around owning a horse requires a dedicated and delibrate practice.

Not a quick fix.

It requires fighting the process and doing something about it today, actively ageing to give you more time in the saddle later.

The muscle mass you do create today, will pay off in your later years, so don’t hold off and don’t underestimate the power building your strength has on your riding.


“Strangely life gets hard when you try to make it easier.

Exercising might be hard, but never exercising makes life harder.

Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding conflict is harder.

Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder.

Easy has a cost.”

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