Make It Work (and Work, and Work, and Work)

Photo courtesy of Madi Hunter.

Photo courtesy of Madi Hunter.

As equestrians, we are notoriously busy. Whether riding is your main job or something you do on the side, we are all busy.

Riding is also a sport that demands a lot physically from both horse and rider, and as riders don’t always have the extra time to get fit ourselves outside of the barn. I understand how difficult it is to get motivated to work out outside of the barn or outside of what you already do, so I’ve come up with a list of things you can do at the barn while you are completing all your other chores! 

  1. When walking to the paddocks to either bring a horse in or turn a horse out, do lunges. It may take a little more time and your horse may look at you a little funny, but you have to get the the paddock somehow! 
  2. Resistance bands are easy to pick up and cheap to buy. There are tons of exercises you can find to do with them as well. While standing at the end of the day and cleaning a large pile of tack, slip a resistance band on and do a little bit more work! 
  3. When cleaning stalls, fill your whole wheelbarrow. Don’t fill it most of the way — fill it to the top and then keep filling. Not only does it give you more to lift and push, but you have less trips to the manure pile to make. 
  4. Always push your wheelbarrow, don’t pull it. Just like when your horse is working you want them pushing and not pulling, use the same work ethic for yourself. And if you have access to them, use a wheelbarrow with one wheel instead of two! It tests your balance a little bit more too! 
  5. When sweeping or raking your aisle, do so with a purpose. Don’t lazily sweep your rake — really put your body into it. It may feel a little silly and like it isn’t making a difference, but I promise you, it does! And on that note: Do everything with a purpose! 
  6. Go for a jog, but bring your horse. This way, you both get a workout! I had a friend who did this multiple times a week and it really helped her fitness as well as that of her horses. It’s also a lot more fun to go running if you have a buddy to do it with! 
  7. When your stacked hay becomes slightly disorganized, take the whole thing down and then stack it all again! Sure, it may seem like a waste of time, but hay bales are heavy and hard to handle which benefits your muscles in the long run. And having a neat stack of hay just makes things look cleaner — it’s a win-win! 
  8. If you have a hose to fill up water buckets, stop using it! Take each bucket to the source, fill it all the way, and carry the full bucket back to its stall. Heavy and awkward, but you can pretty much watch your muscles grow with each bucket you carry. 
  9. Also regarding water, while your buckets are filling (hose or not) do some high knees. Instead of just staring at the bucket fill, which we all know makes it take longer, be a little productive! 
  10. Here’s an obvious one: Sit the trot more. Do more no-stirrup work. Yes, I know, ouch — but do it anyway! 
  11. For those of you with stiff or locked hips, invest in a dollar store hula hoop! This idea was given to me by Lisa Marie Fergusson and it’s a great idea for helping you find a better seat in the saddle. 
  12. Do squat jumps onto and off a mounting block or bags of grain. With the bags of grain, you can change the height and really make yourself work harder!