Becoming A Dressage Athlete
I want you to really shine as a dressage rider and in order for this to happen its important that attention is paid to your fitness levels. Fitness is a huge aspect of dressage and often riders are out hunting for hugely athletic horses to ride, yet they don’t think of themselves as the athlete also. I really want to see this change and for you to start to see yourself as an athlete also.
When it comes to competition often the riders at the top have such a small margin for error when it comes to riding their test and again this doesn’t matter what level you are at. If you want to win your tests and have the edge above other riders you need to not only have the skill, but also the fitness, strength and mental focus to make those winning extra points. Its the complete package.
Even if you don’t compete at that level and you are just competing to take part, heading out to an event requires fitness, strength and endurance. The adrenaline that pumps through your body when you are out on a new horse in a new environment doing a dressage test for the very first time is taxing on your body. It doesn’t matter what the score ends up being. The fitter you are, the easier you will be able to cope with this sort of day without it completely shattering you. Then the more you do them and the fitter you become the more you can work on your arena craft and taking those 6’s up to 7-8 and higher.
Even if you don’t compete, the truth is you owe it to your horse to be fit. You don’t want to be the weakest link. We expect our horses to be fit and strong, so its really not fair if you aren’t putting in the effort to this partnership.
Time For A Change
Its time to start treating yourself and your horse as an athlete, again no matter what level you are at. Once you get in this mindset and you start looking at your training and your horses training in this way, this is when you will start becoming the best rider that you can be and that is what it is all about.
Dressage is an incredibly skillful sport, you have to be aware of your entire body, what muscles are working and how to control all of them, without showing that you are moving. This awareness of your body is what sets you apart from other riders and helps you improve your aids and horses natural ability.
Your body needs to be as quiet as it can be, while at the same time strong and supple. It is then from the position that you are able to give those subtle aids to ask the horse to move. This requires a certain tension in your body, a core stability and flexibility. Its not about tightness or being rigid. This combination needs to both present in horse and rider, but often the riders neglect in their own bodies and are all to often just focusing on the horse.
Become The Dressage Athlete
When you start to put the effort into improving your own fitness, strength and suppleness you are then able to bring more knowledge and understanding to how your schooling is going to affect your horses body. Often I see people going round and round and round in circles on their horse and wondering why they are getting worse and worse. Often the rider just simply doesn’t realise that horses get tired just like we do and they to need the breaks and the variety in their work. They also end up schooling doing the same thing day in and day out. Having a plan and a training program helps you improve and become a much more successful rider.
When we ride we are often just thinking about the horse and this is a great thing, however as some point we need to put the effort to think about our own body and fitness so that when we are riding well we can just ride and enjoy it without our fitness or strength holding us back.
Taking It To Another Level
Another part of becoming fitter is that when you can just ride you can then focus on your breathing and breathing correctly. If you are unfit, weak and unbalanced you will be puffing and wobbling all over the show. But if you are fit you can then focus on really riding. Often riders unable to keep up in a lesson or just day to day schooling, the riders stiffen up in the shoulder, breathe high in the chest and their entire body tenses up. Breathing needs to be deep, shoulder relaxed and this in turn helps you balance and relax on the horse. When you are able to get to this stage you can then really channel in on that mental focus and arena craft when you are competing.
So no matter what level you are at or what your goals are, I simply want you to be able to enjoy dressage and riding and in order for both you and your horse to be happy, healthy and fit that means you to need to take care of your own health and fitness. Treat your body and your horses like you are both athletes.
To get access to workouts, nutrition and core programs to help take your riding up to a new level without even leaving your home, check out the dressage rider program. Get access to yoga, mobility, stretching, core workouts, HIIT workouts, strength training and so much more. All the tools to help you become the dressage athlete. Learn more here