In this article I share specific dressage exercises that will help you fine tune your own strength and balance in the saddle.
As riders understanding what is going on within our own body can help us when we are in the saddle. Often we may feel that the horse is really stiff and weak on one rein and while this may be true, it’s important to not overlook the fact that you may also be stiff and weak on one rein too, these dressage exercises will help you address those weak areas and help you build on your riding posture by helping with the strength of your lower back and legs.
We work on our horse’s symmetry, strength and balance through dressage, so paying attention to all these factors in ourselves makes sense. Not just for the picture this creates, but also for clarity of aids and prevention of wear and tear in the future.
These series of specific dressage exercises are all about helping to strengthen the muscles that stabilize our pelvis and lower back. While doing them you may then discover your “weak rein” and parts of your body that need a little more attention.
By working on making sure you are even and balanced you can then truly help your horse with their training and take any rider imbalances out of the equation.
Exercises To Improve Lower Back Strength And Balance
Try these exercises throughout your day. You could do one exercise at a time or put them into a workout to do a few times a week. Improve your balance and strength off the horse and notice how it improves your time on the horse.
For each exercise aim to do 10-15 reps of each exercise at a minimum, have a rest and repeat again.
1. Lower Locust Leg Squeezes – Great for toning and strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. If you are new to this sort of exercise, start with just one leg or do two and rest after each rep.
2. Bridges – Great for toning and strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
3. Bridge Single Leg Lifts – Great to progress on after the bridge pose. This is also great for toning and strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings but ensuring we are even on both sides. So often we will have one side stronger than the other and this will really help highlight any imbalances.
4. Horse Stance Pointer Combo – Great for improving balance as well as muscle coordination through our cross link chain of our postural muscles. Again this is a great exercise to highlight any imbalances and understand which side of your body is weaker than the other and where the work needs to be put in.
5. Chair Squats – Being able to squat is incredibly beneficial for not just your riding but for all the day to day tasks of horse care. So if you havn’t squatted in a while start with the chair squat and then work your way towards taking this away and doing full squats without it.
6. Toe taps – Another great exercise to highlight how good your balance is and show case any imbalances. Start with back foot on the ground as you tip forward and progress to lifting this up and keeping it up for the entire set.
7. Step Lunges – Great exercise for developing lower body strength and working on even balance through both sides. Start by just lunging on the spot, then progress to step lunges. Be sure to push through the front heel and keep the body upright.
These exercises are great for improving overall strength and balance around our lower body and all the muscles that help support our pelvis. Too often we spend all our time focusing on our horses balance and strength. Notice what happens when you put just as much effort into your own balance and strength.
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