As you can gather from the video, riding horses takes not only an athletic rider, but also an athletic horse. It requires some skill at all levels, be it beginner, intermediate or advanced.

I have always been amazed when I just watch the jockeys at a racetrack. I study them and marvel at their lean muscles, strength and endurance. Their level of fitness is incredible because it’s like they are running the race along with their horse. They work out for hours in the gym developing their entire body and their cardiovascular fitness. Just imagine standing up in your stirrups for one and a half minutes or more as you balance yourself on top of the locomotive beneath you.

Imagine the strength and level of fitness needed to ride cross country. Think of how you are using all of your muscles. Your arms for steering and pulling up and balance. Your legs for gripping, signals, jumping and keeping you in the saddle. Your stomach muscles for core strength, agility and balance. It’s a whole body experience, no doubt!

Personally, I ride for pleasure. Simple trail rides whenever I can break away or I am in a new area. Anyone would think, “Oh, that’s easy, all you do is sit in the western saddle and the horse will do the rest.” This is completely untrue. I am using all of my muscles as I ride along. I need my leg and stomach muscles to mount up and to keep me on when I am in a trot or canter. My arms are constantly engaged, gathering the reins to prepare for a canter or letting them loosen to cross a stream. My core keeps me balanced as I walk through a forest keeping alert for anything that may spook my horse and cause me to come out of the saddle if I am not prepared.

In conclusion, riding is nothing short of a sport that requires a level of fitness from both the rider and horse. If you don’t believe me, go take a trail ride and let me know how your body feels the next day:) Happy trails to you!

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