Tara La Bree discusses the importance of a well-rounded team that supports both horse and rider.
We often think of riding as an individual sport, but it’s not. Whether you know it or not, you are part of a team. Don’t believe me? Look around. Your team consists of:
Your horse. Granted, this team member can request a trade at a time or just refuse to get on the bus on game day, but he or she is still part of the team. A very important part, unless you choose to ride something other than a horse.
Your friends. They don’t necessarily know anything about riding but just bought some super cute boots that look just like yours!!!
Your family members. They know you love team member #1, but don’t quite understand it and might or might not think this horse obsession of yours is just a drain of time and money. Especially money. So. Much. Money.
Your trainer, your vet, your farrier, your equine chiropractor, your equine nutritionist, your equine acupuncturist, your equine masseuse, etc. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume this group is just fine with the whole money drain thing.
You. Without you, none of the other team members have anything in common. You are their glue, their nucleus, the rightful center of their universe. Despite the clear and undeniable truth of this part, the other team members typically reserve the right to dispute the importance of your role at any given time.
Wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, that’s your team, and yes, that’s a good thing.
They congratulate you when things go well, and console you when they don’t. They dust you off and put you back in the saddle after a bad day (remember that team member #1 is not contractually obligated to cooperate with that part). They lend you a shoulder or two, or twelve, to cry on when team member #1 goes on the injured reserve list. They keep you motivated, on track, and sane (again, the other team members reserve the right to dispute that), and there is no way you could make it through your daily grind without them.
By now you are thinking to yourself, “That’s nice — I think — but what does this have to do with rider fitness?”
I’m so glad you asked!
At this point, you’ve heard plenty of of people (including Beezie, Denny and George, and they know a little something about riding) say that your fitness level is an important component of how you ride, and either you’ve already implemented a fitness program into your daily routine or you’re thinking about one.
If you’re in the latter group, it’s important to understand that rider fitness is also a team sport. Why do you need a team for that too?
You will have questions about how to start, when to start, where to start, and why you should start at all. You will have days when you can’t wait to share how much stronger you’ve become, and you will have days when you just need someone to tell you to get off the couch, put down the bag(s) of chips and chocolate, and walk away. You will need a rider fitness team to keep you motivated, on track, and sane (previously noted sanity dispute rights will apply to this team as well), because there is no way you will make it through your daily grind without them.
Don’t have a rider fitness team? Send me an email. I’ll be happy to add you to mine, although I should warn you that we’ve all already decided that the sanity thing is overrated. Just ask my team member #1.
Tara La Bree is dedicated to improving rider fitness and became a certified personal trainer to help others on their own rider fitness journey. She is also the barn manager at Equestrength LLC and a certified host of Ride Fit Challenge boot camps. Email [email protected]