Dismounted Exercises to Help Improve Your Riding Between Lessons.

Hi. It’s me again asking more questions about getting back into riding while in South Korea. So I’m only three lessons in since restarting lessons after a three year hiatus from riding due to my mare being retired and I should probably be more patient with myself but I’m honestly a little frustrated with myself. There’s a few things I’m struggling with that I haven’t struggled with since I was tiny and a few things I’m now struggling with that I have never struggled with when riding before. I realize its gonna take some time to get back into riding but I’m only able to ride twice a week and I don’t like not doing anything during the other 5 days.
I was wondering if anyone had any ground exercises that will help with improving my hands and seat. I’m already doing planks twice a day. I know my core is weak right now and that that is basically riding kryptonite. I’ve also been stretching my caves so that I don’t have to think as much about dropping my heels which seems to be helping a bit so far. I’m also doing a lot of stretching since I have a pension to be very stiff through the back and legs after years of running 5Ks.
If anyone has any dismounted stuff that can help me with not leaning forward at the canter that’d be really amazing. (I’m not collapsing since my back stays straight I’m bending at the waist like I’m trying to go into two point without lifting myself out of the saddle.
I know a lot of this stuff come from overtime practicing in the saddle but anything I can do on the days I don’t get to ride that can help to expedite the process would be much appreciated! Also advice on softening my hands? I never struggled with to much movement in my hands with my mare but she was really smooth and had a smaller stride than my lesson horses (My mare is a 15.2 Appendix mare and my lesson horses have been at least a hand taller and OTTBs) Thank you.

As far as cross-training to improve your riding, I highly recommend yoga. I find when I teach and in my own struggles, not only is strength important, but also body awareness. (Knowing where you are on your horse, catching tense shoulders, twisting your body.) In Yoga there is such a strong focus on alignment and straightness, I find it correlates really well when I’m riding.
(One of my favorite UL riders was actually the big push for me to start taking Yoga. )


Practice your posture all the time.

I found I was tipping forward in the saddle because I had a tendency to tip forward sitting, driving, even walking especially if I was carrying a heavy book bag or the ground was icy. Oh and mucking stalls tips you forward!

I have been trying to check my posture every 10 strides. I figure if I can’t stand straight on the ground, it won’t happen in the saddle.

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I really like balance boards - they’re great for simulating how you react to motion under you without throwing yourself off balance. I do other core exercises, but I always feel like the balance board drills have a really direct affect on my riding. They also make your legs & core work together, which is nice when you’re too busy for a longer workout!

If you get a slightly wider board that lets you get into a wider squat, you can practice holding a two point, or moving smoothly in and out from a standing position to a two point & back, to see if you can get through the full range of seats without losing your balance. I also like holding a small medicine ball for a little more resistance, & just drilling how my core & legs would need to react to different situations - can I twist side-to-side, can I push my hands really far forward in a release and still keep my shoulders up, etc.


I’ve somewhat recently gotten hip-stretching exercises from my massage therapist which seem to be helping. Riders tend to get stiff in the hips and uneven, as we squeeze in (thighs together) but not press out (thighs apart).

You can look up exercises to stretch the hip adductors and abductors, piriformis, and gluteal muscles.

An excellent exercise for your calves and ankles is to stand on a step (the bottom one, for safety reasons), facing the stairs and move both your feet so that the balls of your feet are on the edge of the step, and your heels are off the step. Slowly raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, then slowly back to level, then let your heels go down below the step, then back up level. Then rinse and repeat. It is advised to hold on with both hands, so best it there is a banister on both sides to hold on to.

Thank you all for the advice! Im gonna try these especially stretching im stiff from distance running for 10 years so im verys stiff which im sure doesnt help also gonna look to see what equipment i can get my hands on that wonttake up my entire studio apartment .

the fit equestrian is great! their equitation bootcamp is very effective. they also have programs for certain areas of your body


this link is for which program is best for you^

YOGA!!! I just DVR www.waiLana.com and do it in my living room. I can’t even tell you how much it has helped. I also have DVDs which were in expensive but our DVD player broke so I just use the episodes that I have DVR from public television. Yoga is amazing! It has helped my ridingso, so very very much. Three or four times a week for 30 minutes in the comfort of your own living room or bedroom or wherever you have a bit of space and peace and quiet and you will notice a huge difference. I have been told by my dressage coach and my jumping coach how much my riding has improved.


Strength training. Lift heavy. I have done it all over the years: aerobics, yoga, palates, biking/spinning, swimming, stretching, fitness ball routines and multiple “equestrian focused” exercise plans–you name it I’ve probably done it. Nothing and I mean nothing has had the positive effect on my riding like getting under a barbell and doing back squats and dead lifts–full body exercises, under weight, demanding strength and balance. The older you are the more highly I would recommend it.


Thank you for all the suggestions! I’ve definitely been working on a few of these with the limited time and resources. I’m already starting to see some improvement.

Go to Walmart or Costco or whatever equivalent and put yourself in the longest, slowest checkout line.

Do this regularly and you’ll learn patience and patience will get you everywhere you want to go with horses.



This made my day, and it’s only 10:00!

I like the balance boards too. They were part of some physical therapy I took for my ankle.

I like rollerblading for cardio. The leg motion is more outward to the side so you will strengthen the thigh muscles for lateral motions compared to running. Also, the gliding motion is low impact if you have bad knees. I try to guess the number of strides before I skate over sidewalk cracks so I get extra practice at looking up approaching a distance while moving fast.


This sounds really fun! I want to go buy rollerblades now!