stretch - to lengthen the large muscles at the back of the thigh for a deep
seat and long leg. Stand keeping one leg straight. Bend the other leg slightly
at the knee and move its foot around the front to the floor on the outside of
the other foot. Bend at the waist and reach for the floor. You will feel the "burn"
at the back of your straight leg.
stretch - to elongate the side of your body, especially beneficial for a rider
with a collapsed side. With your feet hip-width apart, raise one hand over your
head. Reach for the ceiling as you stand on your tiptoes and feel your entire
Lunge - to strengthen
the quadriceps and stretch the gastrocnemius and Achilles tendon for "heels
down". Place one foot 2 feet ahead of the other. Bend the knee of the front
leg, keeping the back leg straight and the back heel on the floor. Hold your arms
out to your sides, horizontal to the floor, keeping your back straight. You should
feel a strengthening in the quadriceps of the front leg and a stretch of the gastrocnemius
and Achilles tendon of the back leg. Repeat with other leg.
The stirrup stretch - to improve the balance, coordination,
and stretching of the obliques required for mounting. With one foot flat on the
floor and the opposite hand on your hip, raise the other leg with the knee bent
so the thigh is at least horizontal. Reach the opposite elbow toward the knee.
Hold. Repeat with the other leg.
stance - to improve your overall balance, symmetry and poise. You'll need
a mirror or a friend to critique you. With your feet placed wider than your shoulders
to approximate the position on a horse, arms out horizontally from shoulders,
tuck your buttocks as if to sit. Keeping your lower back straight, squat as far
as you can toward the floor while keeping your correct position. Regulate your
Calf stretch - to
stretch your gastrocnemius and Achilles tendon in order to help you ride with
a long leg and low heel. Stand with your knees straight and the balls of your
feet on the edge of a 2-4-inch step. Let your heels stretch down. Hold five seconds.
Rest or raise above the step on your toes.
stretch - to stretch your lower back and hamstrings for preventing a hollow
back. Lie flat on a floor or mat. Bring one or both knees to your chest. Clasp
your hands around your upper shins and hug your legs toward your chest for a better
stretch. Keeping your back flat, slowly raise your head and touch your nose to
your knees. Hold for five seconds. Slowly uncurl. Repeat. Don't forget to breathe.
Lower back relaxer - to stretch and relax your lower back
and hamstrings and round your lower back. This exercise is convenient in the arena
or along the trail. Use it before, during, or after riding. With your feet flat
on the ground, squat so your seat reaches for your ankles. Clasp your arms around
your legs, rest your chin on your knees, and let your muscles relax. Once you
have practiced this relaxer, you will find your body remembers it and will automatically
configure in that position when you squat to put bandages or boots on your horse's
legs or to clip his legs.
strengthener - to tighten and strengthen the abdominal muscles for protecting
your lower back as you ride. With knees bent and feet flat on floor, your back,
shoulders, and head flat on the floor, point your arms forward toward your knees.
Exhale and slowly begin lifting your head, one vertebra at a time, to raise your
shoulders off the floor. Inhale as you let yourself down just as slowly.
Lateral leg lifts - to improve the range of motion of the
hip joint and to strengthen the thigh muscles for effective leg aids.
Lying on one side, support your upper body with a bent elbow. Keeping your lower
leg extended on the floor, raise the other leg. With your foot parallel to the
floor, alternate extending your toe and heel.
B. In the same position, bend your upper leg and place the foot on the lower
leg at the knee. Raise and lower the lower leg. The added weight of the upper
leg creates more work for your lower leg.
Hip stretch - to stretch and relax some of those difficult-to-reach
hip and buttock muscles that can get tight as a result of riding. Sit on the floor
with your legs in front of you. Bend one leg at the knee and cross that foot over
to the outside of the opposite thigh. Draw the leg close to your body, keeping
your back straight. Hold.