Healthy Rider, Healthy Horse

Rider with VeggiesAfter being heavily involved with horses for nearly 30 years, I have long noticed a disturbing trend: when it comes to the horse’s health, we horse people will do just about anything – suffer any inconvenience, pay any price, use any equine specialist, buy any hay/grain/supplement, special saddle pad, saddle, boots, bit, bridle, training, lessons, boarding, etc… to maintain and/or improve our horses’ health. Yet, when we are asked about our own health, we “don’t have time”, “can’t afford to”, or “don’t have the energy” to take care of ourselves. Say what?!

How can we, as the caretakers of these magnificent athletes, justify not taking care of ourselves? Who’s going to take care of the horses when we get sick? How long do we really think we can keep up with the horses if we aren’t physically fit? Entropy is a law of nature: “Use it or Lose it” is just as much reality for we horse riders as for every other human being on the planet. And, injuries? They are part of the territory, AND they have significant consequences for the long-term sustainability of our equestrian activities. Even the fittest individuals can be taken down by injuries.

Top riders nearly always have a health and fitness program beyond simply riding – even though they  may ride 8 to 10 horses (or more) a day! They understand that in order to stay at the top, their body must perform at its absolute best. Improper nutritional (fast, cheap food) and lack of cross training just won’t cut it. They recognize that their own physical conditioning is just as important as that of their equine partner’s.

What about when our health impacts the horse more directly? Every weak, unstable, crooked, out of balance step we take on our horses directly impacts their physical health just as surely as if they aren’t eating the right food, getting proper shoeing, or wearing a properly fitted saddle. If we ride with pain, our bodies automatically “guard”, creating imbalances we may not even be aware of. Over time these imbalances create compensations in the horse’s body as they try to adapt to our weakness, injuries, lack of mobility, or guarding behaviors. Ultimately, we may end up treating them for lameness that started with our own lack of physical fitness. How insane is that?

The reality is that we all have the same amount of time. It’s up to us to prioritize our own physical health right along with our horses’. It is in the best interest of ourselves as well as or horses to maintain physical fitness and health/well-being, so that we are the best riders and caretakers for our equine companions. After all, if we aren’t healthy riders, our horses will never be truly healthy horses!

Start taking your own health and physical fitness seriously today! Ridefit can help. Contact us to find out how!

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