Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Ridefit program. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, please submit it through our Contact Us link, and we’ll answer your question on this page!

What is Ridefit?

Ridefit is a fun and challenging fitness program designed specifically for horse riders, performed with minimal equipment, in the riding arena, in normal riding clothes.  It leaves the rider warmed up, flexible, and ready to mount up and ride.

What makes Ridefit different from every other fitness program?

Most traditional personal training and exercise programs focus primarily on large muscle groups, cardiovascular training, and minimal flexibility.  Ridefit supports the unique fitness needs of riders by combining traditional strength and cardiovascular training with exercises that improve neuromotor control, balance, flexibility, and proprioception (one’s overall sense of body position).  Additionally, advanced stretching techniques (PNF stretching) are incorporated to leave the rider’s body optimally relaxed and ready to ride after each session.

Why do I need Ridefit?

Equestrians are athletes.  However, we often neglect our own fitness while we religiously care for our horses’. While cardio and strength training are important for physical fitness, flexibility, proprioception, and balance are especially important for riders. Unfortunately for us, there are three realities that work against us:

First, just riding does not make us the best riders we can be. Regular riding certainly makes us better riders, but eventually our bodies develop ingrained patterns and habits that we become unaware of, and our innate crookedness becomes habitual if we aren’t actively addressing it off the horse.

Second, there is no other sport that has the same physical requirements as riding, so even if we do exercise regularly – whether on our own or with a fitness coach – we may be overstrengthening muscles that actually prevent us from riding our best. Or, we may be unaware of tightness that we are building up in our joints in which movement on the horse is essential to a safe and comfortable ride – for both rider and horse!

And third, for many of us at the end of the day we have a choice between spending our precious off-work hours going to the gym or going to the barn. Usually, the choice is a no-brainer for we who love horses!

Most riders struggle with similar issues:

  • Difficulty staying with the horse (getting left behind or leaning forward)
  • Sitting the trot (and/or riding bigger gaits)
  • Natural crookedness and one-sidedness
  • Tension in neck, shoulders, back, hips or legs
  • Back or neck pain
  • Old injuries leaving joints less flexible
  • Loss of confidence

 Even professional riders who ride many horses a day and “natural” riders whose bodies just seem to naturally move with the horse in the right way may experience injuries over time that leave lasting impacts on their ability to move fully with the horse.  Age and injuries become insurmountable challenges, and can result in loss of riding time, loss of income and potentially end riding careers.

 Regular and consistent Ridefit workouts can improve all of these issues by increasing range of motion, reducing riding-related pain, and increased stability on the horse, which will translate to greater confidence and relaxation while mounted. All of these things will also translate into more relaxed and confident horses, because in the end, it all comes back to doing what we can to keep our horses happy, healthy and as pain free as possible.

What should I expect from a Ridefit workout?

Ridefit workouts are group classes and held right in the stable’s indoor or outdoor riding arena (weather dependent).  Clients can wear their normal riding attire, including riding pants and boots*.  Exercises are performed using body weight for strength, mats and balance balls for proprioception, flexibility and core exercises, and on foot for the cardio portions of the workout.  Upbeat modern music is played to give a feeling of positive energy to the workout.

 Each class begins with a thorough warm-up, to get the major joints moving and the heart rate elevated.

 Once riders are warmed up, exercises switch approximately every 60 seconds, and rotate between upper body, core, lower body, proprioception/balance and cardiovascular exercises.  This way, no one muscle group gets overworked, and even the most challenging exercises can be performed by all participants.

Active conditioning exercises are followed by a thorough stretch and cool-down of all the muscle groups worked during the class. Warm muscles stretch much more readily than do cold muscles, so this portion of the workout is critical to reduce strain and prevent injuries.

 At the end of a Ridefit session, the rider should be tired, but not exhausted, and should be able to mount up and ride, preferably after some form of recovery nutrition.  Some soreness the next day is normal, and speaks to the effectiveness of the training.  Many riders comment that they feel muscles they didn’t know they had.

What if I have old injuries or am recovering from an injury?

Assuming your doctor has cleared you for exercise, be sure to let your Ridefit instructor know about any injuries or pain you may be experiencing before you start to workout.  The instructor will provide modifications for any exercises that might stress your area of injury, until the area is strong enough to sustain a normal level of activity.

I have never worked out before, how do I know I can do Ridefit?

Before starting any exercise program, you should talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program.  If you are physically able to ride a horse, you should have no problem with the Ridefit workout.  The Ridefit instructor will provide modifications for any of the more challenging exercises that will allow you to perform them regardless of your current level of physical fitness.  With consistent Ridefit workouts, your body will quickly adapt so that you will find yourself more readily able to perform the exercises.

Is it safe to do Ridefit?

Because Ridefit puts so much emphasis on working out at your body’s individual fitness level, strength exercises are body-weight only, and Ridefit instructors are educated in the safest way to perform each exercise and can provide you with modifications for exercises that are too difficult, Ridefit is a very safe workout program. Your Ridefit instructor is fully certified in the Ridefit techniques, understands the benefits and challenges of each exercise, and is RedCross certified in CPR.

The exercises in Ridefit are intended to challenge your body’s coordination and balance in order to force it to adapt and create new neural pathways.  Because some of the exercises can be awkward and present balance challenges, your Ridefitinstructor’s highest priority is safety and injury prevention.