Fit to Ride

11th October 2019

Researchers have found riding as a sole mode of exercise is not adequate to improve fitness. The rider needs to find time away from the horse to participate in a fitness programme consisting of aerobic and strength training. With this in mind we thought we would explore the most important fitness components in equestrian sport and how we may work to improve these away from the stables!

Gym Sit Ups

Cardiovascular Fitness

Regardless of whether you are practicing sitting trot for the first time or jumping around a 4* Cross Country course, you will be using your cardiovascular fitness! If we can improve our cardiovascular fitness, we can offset the effect of fatigue and therefore perform our activity at a higher standard for longer and more effectively.


Balance is essential skill to all equestrian athletes. It is our balance that keeps us sitting in the centre of the saddle and distributing the weight evenly down each stirrup.  It enables us to recover and regain a central position when things may have gone a little pear shaped!  A rider that is balanced is more able to ride with an independent seat and hand as they are not relying on external aids to balance.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular Endurance the ability of a group of muscle movement over a length of time. This is an important fitness component in equestrian sport as many movements in equestrian sport require prolonged muscular activity.


As equestrians something you will often hear in a coaching session is… “Sit up straighter, tighten your core”. Our ability to sit up straight and maintain a good posture on board comes from our core strength and balance.

So now we have looked at the key components that we would like to work on, let’s see how we can target them in a quick, simple workout….

Work out

If you are undertaking exercise after a period of inactivity, please visit your GP to have a health check and adjust the workout accordingly.

Always remember each session can be scaled according to your fitness level…scaling isn’t failing!

Run 400m

Remember runs can be scaled according to fitness levels. If you are unable to run and have access to a rowing machine this can be a good alterative.

20 Air Squats

This is just your regular squat. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Drop your hips and sit back until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Then drive through your heels and lift your body upwards back to the starting position.

20 Sit Ups

Lie on the floor with a slight bend in your knee and your feet placed firmly on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Use your abdominal muscles to raise your upper body into an upright position. Slowly lower your upper body back to the floor and repeat.


Lie on the floor with elbows directly beneath your shoulders and legs fully extended. Raise your torso into the air until it makes a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Tighten your stomach, squeeze your butt and hold this position for the desired amount of time.

Box Jump

Stand in front of the box with feet directly under the hips and hands by your side. Lower yourself into the jumping position by bending at the knees and hips.

Explosively jump from the crouched position whilst swinging the arms. Land softly on the centre of the platform absorbing the impact with your legs. Stand tall. Scale the height of the box accordingly. If you do not have access to a box do 20 Burpees.


Start with your feet spread shoulder-width apart, head up, shoulders back. Squat and place your hands on the floor. Place all your weight on your hands as you jump your feet back to Plank position. Jump your feet forward until they are beside your hands.

Warm Up

  • Run OR Row 400m
  • Stretch and Mobilise

Work out

  • Run 400m
  • 20 Air Squats
  • 20 Sit Ups
  • 20 second Plank
  • 20 Box Jumps OR Burpees

1 MIN REST (Scale accordingly)

  • Run 300m
  • 15 Air Squats
  • 15 Sit Ups
  • 15 second Plank
  • 15 Box Jumps OR Burpees

1 MIN REST (Scale accordingly)

  • Run 200m
  • 10 Air Squats
  • 10 Sit Ups
  • 10 second Plank
  • 10 Box Jumps OR Burpees

1 MIN REST (Scale accordingly)

  • Run 100m
  • 5 Air Squats
  • 5 Sit Ups
  • 5 second Plank
  • 5 Box Jumps OR Burpees

1 MIN REST (Scale accordingly)

Don’t forget to stretch off! Be sure to time yourself and let us know what you thought of the workout and how you got on!

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