Since becoming a horse rider, I have always tried to stay fit and healthy to help me to become the best rider I can be. Unlike football players, soccer players, dancers, and gymnasts, horse riders use and activate different muscles. We have to learn how to properly stretch those muscles not only to benefit us, but our horses as well.
My goal has always been to become more flexible. I strive to at least stretch once a day and honestly, it has really helped my overall health as well as my muscles. I have definitely noticed a difference in my riding as I am more loose, flexible, and relaxed. There are many benefits to stretching and making it part of your daily routine.
Today, I am walking you through my top 5 stretches for every horse rider, young or old (flexible or not). There are also modifications to these stretches if you are just starting out. If you complete these stretches once a day or even a couple times a week, you will definitely see an improvement in your riding. I have included pictures of myself doing the stretches to help you understand each stretch a bit better (creds to my sister, Kassie, for taking the photos).
Stretch #1: Low Lunge
The first stretch is called the Low Lunge. This is a super helpful exercise to stretch your inner thighs as well as improve your posture. Your thighs are a very important part of riding your horse. When you are able to strengthen your thighs, it can improve your riding significantly. When completing this stretch, make sure to go deep into the stretch by leaning into the front leg, engaging your core and sitting up tall, and reaching your hands to the sky. Stretching is all about pushing yourself just a little bit outside your comfort zone. This will help you to become even more flexible.
Stretch #2: Lizard Pose
The second stretch is called the Lizard Pose. The Lizard Pose targets your inner thighs as well as your core. When completing this stretch, again, sink deep into the stretch to get the best results and engage your core. Also, make sure to look 3-5 inches in front of your mat. To modify this stretch you can take your hands to the inside of your leg and not move onto your elbows. Another modification is to place your back leg knee on your mat or with a slight bend. See pictures below for modification examples:
Stretch #3: Quad Stretch
The next stretch is called the quad stretch. This stretch is great to stretch out the quads and thigh area. As a rider, I definitely use my thighs a TON when I am riding. It makes up almost 100% of my ride. So, I always have to make sure that when I am done riding to stretch out the areas that I worked hard. This prevents myself from getting super sore the next day. So, to complete this stretch, arch your back just slightly and bring your leg closer to your body to get a deep stretch. To modify this stretch, you don’t have to bring your leg all the way back, just bring it halfway.
Stretch #4: Butterfly Stretch
The fourth stretch is called the butterfly stretch. This is definitely a well-known stretch to stretch out your legs and inner thighs. To get the most out of this stretch, makes sure to lean forward as far as you can to lengthen your spine. Hold this stretch for about 15-30 seconds to get a good stretch. To modify this stretch, you don’t have to come all the way down to your feet. Just go as far as you can.
Stretch #5: Hip Stretch
The last stretch is called the hip stretch. This stretch is used to open up the hips and stretch the legs after a hard ride. As you can see in the pictures above, the first picture shows me not pushing on my leg and the second picture shows me pushing. This is how you are going to start. You are going to slowly push down until your leg is touching your other leg in the picture. Hold this stretch for about 15-30 seconds. This is a great stretch to do right before you go to bed or right after you ride. To modify this stretch, you don’t have to push down on your leg as hard and go as far. Refer to the pictures above to complete this stretch.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and most of all learned something new! I encourage you to try at least one of these stretches out and maybe it will become a part of your daily routine. All of these stretches have definitely helped me, not only in riding, but also when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. If you tried out one of these stretches, send me a pic! I would love to chat with you and see your progress! Until next time… don’t forget to hug your horse!
What is your favorite post-riding stretch?