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Women & Horses by Mary D. Midkiff - horseback riding fitness techniques for women

Women & Horses, knowledge for the female equestrian; female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

QuickTips - by Mary D. Midkiff

QuickTips are for inspiration. Please send me feedback
by email. Suggestions are welcome too!

1. Especially during the Spring when hormones are running high, try aromatherapy on your horse. There are several companies such as Chamisa Ridge which sell the oils which can help calm the anxious horse, focus mentally, minimize pheromones, etc. I put a small amount on my mare's nose and a tad in the opening of her nostrils before we train. This has made her very happy and much more willing to enjoy her work. I refer to it as her perfume! Give it a try, it's one more way to enhance your partnership naturally and pleasantly.

2. In order to balance out your body and your horse's body much more evenly, mount from a different side each day. Always mounting from the left, torques the horse's withers and shoulder to the left and triggers the right hind muscles to support the pull. If you are doing that the same way throughout your horse's life don't be surprised if he is uneven in his work, develops left front/right hind lamenesses, and/or has difficulty bending evenly.

3. Do your stretching and strengthening exercises (especially those ab crunches) to support your back at least 5 times per week. It should only take 10 minutes of your day or evening and prevent back pain and injury.

4. Get a lumbar support pillow for your truck or car. Even if your car seat features a lumbar support, it is not effective enough to give your spinal curvature the correct position for all the many hours we spend behind the wheel.

5. Make sure your office chair is supportive to your lower back or add a pillow to the chair to make it anatomically correct.

6. When you travel by air please add a pillow to the lower part of your back. If there aren't any available use a folded up sweater or blanket to fill in the empty space. The people who make airline seats have not had contact with a human body yet!

7. While you watch TV make sure you put a pillow behind you to fill in your lower back, otherwise your back is improperly strained while you try and relax.

8. When doing your floor stretching exercises place a book (about 1 inch thick)or something similar in thickness under your head. You will be lining up your spine to get the best effect from your stretches.

9. If you can, add a deep muscle massage to your monthly schedule.

10. "The accepted essentials for success in sport are speed, stamina, strength, flexibility and mental approach. To these should be added correct posture and the prevention of posture related injuries." Excerpt from "Posture Makes Perfect" by Dr. Victor Barker

11. The more lordotic (arched back) your body type the more you will need to think about keeping your hips and knees open while riding and staying away from the tendency to want to pinch or compress with your knees. This especially applies in the half halt where compressing with the knees takes your seat up and off the saddle instead of deeper.

12. Use your elbows and shoulder joints as a pulley connection with the horse's mouth with soft hands instead of breaking your wrists or tightening into a fist.

13. Tune into how your body behaves during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is the last third of your cycle or the week prior to menstruation. It is during this time that the estrogen level is very high and you may experience joint laxity or a change in the way your hips and lower back move or don't with the horse's motion. Be aware of it, make sure and do your stretches regularly and ride comfortably with it in mind.

14. Did you know… …Doing everyday physical activities like walking for 30 minutes several days per week is as effective in the long run for lowering body fat, improving blood pressure and boosting aerobic fitness as doing more traditional structured exercise three to five days a week, according to two recent studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (USA Today, Jan. 27, 1999)

15. "When someone tells me there is only one way to do things, it always lights a fire under my butt. My instant reaction is, 'I'm gonna prove you wrong.' " - Picabo Street

female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

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