Exercises for equestrians

Looking for exercises to improve your riding? Look no further!

Calf raises help with flexibility of keeping your heels down, which is essential for good leg position while riding.
Calf raises help with flexibility of keeping your heels down, which is essential for good leg position while riding.

The peak of show season tends to be in the summertime, when the weather is ideal for outdoor activities. It’s easy each winter when the weather gets rough to put the blankets on and take a break for a few months. While we like to think things will go back to normal once spring rolls around, it’s quite the opposite. Not only are our horses out of shape, but so are we! We can’t quite hold that two-point position as long, posting takes a little more effort and those legs just don’t want to stay in position! The best thing to do is not take that time off and to continue riding, but sometimes the weather just won’t permit it, especially if you live in Michigan. As equestrians, we need to maintain strong cores and legs while staying flexible. Here are some exercises you can do during the off-season.


I love yoga. Not only is it a great stress reliever, but it helps with flexibility and posture, two very important aspects to equestrians. There are many great apps out there that have great routines, including:

  • Yoga.com offers many great routines and is personally my favorite. It is $3.99 at the mobile app store, or you can purchase a membership to the online site.
  • Simply Yoga is free for Apple and Android mobile devices. The free app offers a few routines, but you can also purchase the app for many more routines.

Leg workouts

Having strong and flexible leg muscles will help you become a more stable rider. Additionally, you’ll be able to more effectively support your horse through more difficult maneuvers. Looking to increase difficulty? Just add some weights!

  • Calf raises will help with the flexibility of keeping our heels down, a key feature of good leg position while riding.

Calf raises
Calf raises

Wall sits

Sumo squats

Adductor raise

Core workouts

  • Supermans are a great exercise to strengthen your core. Having a strong, stable core will enable you to ride more effectively and quickly adjust your weight and center of balance based on your horse’s movements. To amplify this and work out different parts, you can move from step two and alternate hands around to your buttocks. This will cause you to rotate slightly and work out your obliques.



Flutter kicks

As you do these workouts, it is important to start with low repetitions and then increase over time. Doing this will prevent your body from plateauing. Also, you could alternate the workouts so you are not doing everything all at once and your body can recuperate.

For more information on equine exercises, see the following Michigan State University Extension articles: Equestrian exercises for the off-season: Part 1 and Equestrian exercises for the off-season: Part 2.

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