The Elderly Horse Rider Tips to Be Safe
Horse riders over 40 years need some special advice to stay safe and enjoy the sport to the max. Everybody knows as we age we have changes in our body that we want to ignore. Our flexibility becomes significantly less. Our muscle strength reduces. Our reflexes are not as sharp and our posture tends to slump somewhat. This changes can make us very nervous on a horses back.
Horse riding requires a good strong posture and especially a good strong core muscle and function. Riding also needs a flexible lower back and mobility through the shoulders and hips. The calf muscle must be long and the hamstrings efficient.
Taking up horse riding in the second half of your life does require a lot of work and dedication. I have spoken to and coached many in their 60s just starting. The passion these riders have is truly inspirational and certainly the key to their success.
I know many riders in this age bracket have been wanting to ride all their lives and for various reasons have not had the opportunity. One lady I spoke with told me her husband had banned her for their whole married life from owning a horse or being involved in any way. He died and she bought a horse. Sad but true.
So how does the older rider prepare for horse riding?
Certainly a level of fitness is required so walking or participating in any other sports is a good idea. The key to success and safety is training the horse riding muscle specific for horse riding.
The Lower Back
Increasing range of movement and flexibility is essential. The lower back in so many people is stiff and riding requires a mobile lower back. Start with simple lumbar rotation exercises on the floor DAILY. Sitting on a gym ball and rolling it around is the best exercise yet.
Abdominal s and Core Muscles
Absolutely a must to be safe and effective in the saddle. A strong core area will allow a rider to have strength and stability through all paces and aids. This muscle must be exercised and trained specific for horse riding. Again the ball exercise and pilates are great for this. I also teach specific movement patterns for horse riding to train this area specific for horse riding.
Shoulder and Upper Back Muscles
This area is quite static and stiff in riding. Movement is happening all the time but it appears still. Training the upper back in strength and endurance is important. Exercising using some resistance theraband is ideal for this. Sitting on a ball and using the theraband will prepare the upper back and shoulders for the horse that pulls and resists alot.
The hips in the elderly are usually tight into external rotation (toes point out). Riding requires good range into internal rotation so the rider with tights hips must stretch them.
Try standing with your toes pointing to each other for many seconds at a time. In sitting put yours knees together and feet wide apart. This is an important stretch and will allow you to keep the toes forward when riding.
There are many more muscles to cover and train for horse riding. For the full program have a look at Applied Posture Riding. This is a pilates based program that will train any rider to ride better. It teaches you to asses yourself and then fix yourself. We all have different problems in our muscles and posture.so self assessment is essential.
Training the muscles for riding is something every rider needs to do.
The older rider needs to focus on increasing flexibility first and then strength. The younger rider needs to focus on control and endurance. Either age every person can assess and address their own individual problems by following this program. Good luck and have fun while being safe