Your Turn: Getting ‘Riding Fit’

Karlie Mitchell explains that rider fitness isn’t about looking good in your breeches — it’s about being a good partner to your horse.


Flickr/Justin Liew/CC

From Karlie:

Recently I’ve been seeing a ton more articles on rider fitness. My opinion… it is 100% necessary. I’ve heard a fair share of people not impressed with this push for rider fitness. The main thing to remember is it is not telling you that you have to be a size zero “skinny girl” living off 200 calories a day to be a good rider. What it is about is being fit to be an equal partner to your equine athlete. It is not measured by a number on the scale or your breech size. Simply because you can be a tiny 100-pound girl and still throw your horse off their best performance. Let me break it down from my perspective.

I’m going to focus on my recent goal of moving from just working on show jumping to also working on cross country to eventually try eventing. Show jumping takes a lot of strength, skill, and hard work. BUT eventing… now let me tell you that takes it to a whole new level for me. I know my super athletic Thoroughbred is up to the job, but am I? I do not want to be the hindrance in our partnership so before I get galloping I’m getting running. It’s cold and super wintery right now where I live in Canada. I signed up for an eight-week boot camp fitness class to whip my behind into better shape before I even think about putting him into a training program. It’s not about getting into a smaller pair of breeches to look good. It is about strengthening my core, legs, arms, back, improving my cardio, etc. so I can work with my horse in training not against him. When I need motivation I think of him and how awesome he is after being on a training program. Now I want to be there too at that level with him.

On top of that having to run/jump/lift and so much more of this physical treachery will give me a tiny taste of all the work ahead of me this summer working towards my new goal.

Don’t just get riding — get riding strong and fit!

About Karlie: I am from Alberta, Canada and live on a farm with my equine crew (a Paint, QHx Arab, and two OTTBs). I mainly do English and jumping, but also enjoy western and trail riding. I love riding, training, learning about Equine Science related topics, and having a great time with my horses.


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