This App Can Help Take the Guesswork Out of Rider Fitness

The equestrian-focused Performance Refinery app.

If there was an industry to invest in pre-pandemic, it was in-home fitness and the concept of app-based programming for working out. As the coronavirus took hold of the world, gyms and yoga studios found themselves in a dire situation. Sadly, many of these facilities may not make it through to the other side of the coin – whatever that may look like. In the void left by the closure of some in-person gyms, more technology has stepped up to give consumers a fitness boost without having to leave their homes.

For most equestrians, life at the barn may not have changed as much as some other areas. Horses still needed caring for and exercising. As a result, while some may have found themselves with an extra bit of time from the cancellation of competitions, there still remained a packed schedule each day. This often leaves little time for exercise out of the saddle.

Britta Pederson wanted to change this. Through her equestrian-specific work as a Registered Senior Physiotherapist and equestrian-specific Performance Trainer in southern California, Britta has improved many a rider’s relationship with her own health and wellness. Now, she’s offering app-based, customized workouts through her Equestrian Rider Performance Program geared specifically for riders looking for a boost in the saddle.

Britta Pederson works on a student during a Performance Refinery clinic. Photo by Sally Spickard.

It’s true that riding horses is tough on our bodies and demands a certain level of physical fitness and strength. But is riding enough to get “fit”? The jury is still out, but most physical therapists and personal trainers will tell you that integrating at least some supplemental exercise will only help your performance in the saddle.

I’ve been working out using the Performance Refinery app for about two months, and it’s become the perfect program for my always-changing schedule and the fact that gyms in California remain closed.

Each month, Britta tailors participants’ workout programming specific to the goals and benchmarks set out at the beginning. Participants fill out a questionnaire detailing their exercise experience, fitness level, and goals for the program. From there, Britta fills in a schedule that works for each individual’s schedule – I have mine set to five days per week, others may only have two or three workouts scheduled.

My focus for fitness has been twofold: building cardiovascular endurance and building lower body strength and muscle definition. Using these goals and my schedule, Britta designed a lower body-focused program that integrates exercises complete with instructional videos for each.

The Performance Refinery app also pulls in stats from a connected smartwatch for heart rate and syncs the information to a health app such as Apple Health for ease of tracking.

A sample week of my tailored programming.

Another added bonus of this program is its equestrian-specific nature. Britta divides participants up into EQ Rider Squads which means we all have access to a running chat where we can cheer each other on or provide other support. The best part? Almost all of us are riders, which means we “get” each other. I don’t have to tell you twice how motivational it can be to be around “your people”.

Brooke Wadsworth, an eventer who has been a part of the Equestrian Rider Performance Squad for four months, says the program has been invaluable in getting back in the saddle after undergoing a cesarean section. “The Performance Refinery app has been helpful as a busy mother and longtime fitness guru to have my month of fitness growth already planned out and prepared along with pushing me outside of my “go-to” routines,” she said. “Britta tailors my program to adjust to my personal imbalances and physical needs to keep me improving in and out of the saddle.”

If you’re seeking a way to up your fitness game in the saddle this year, why not work with someone who knows exactly how the body works during a ride? I’ve really enjoyed my experience as a part of the Equestrian Rider Performance Squad – suddenly, fitness isn’t just about finding time to go to the gym or struggle through making up my own workouts. It’s easy, simple, and easier to track progress using all that technology has to offer while also staying healthier and socially distanced.

Click here to learn more about The Performance Refinery.

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