Horsemanship By Martine du floo When I entered the equestrian world, I was amazed that riders and amazons were constantly working on the condition of their horse. Training, nutrition and the environment…… it is all well studied and put into place to enable our horse to become a top-athlete. But it surprised me that the riders and amazons mostly completely forgot to work on their own condition. A lot of riders are untrained and/or over-weighed which has a negative effect on their own performance as well as the horses’ one. In my professional world as a dancer, it is of the utmost importance that the dancers are in good condition to be able to perform individually, but also for the performance in group acts, being extremely fit is mandatory for a good cooperation and performance. This is a responsibility of each dancer. In the equestrian sport, the cooperation is between the rider and the horse, a there the rider/amazon should take up this responsibility for both himself as for the horse to train and obtain a good condition. But apparently, most of the attention on this subject goes to the training of the horse, where the own wellbeing of the rider is less important. The fitness of the rider has a big influence on the cooperation between the rider and the horse and their performance together. Only a fit horse and a fit rider can reach the state of a true bonded identity. Furthermore there will exist an understanding of how the body works during and after a work-out also concerning the training of the horse. Martine (Silvana) du Floo is personal trainer, author and initiator of multiple fitness programs for special target groups and was the first trainer in the Netherlands of fitness-instructors. Next to that, she is human and veterinary classical homeopath and sports masseur and behaviour therapist for animals. She wrote articles for several magazines regarding the importance of fit riders and amazons and was personal trainer of Emelie Ängus, a Swedish dressage amazon. Emelie Ängus During one of the horse-relates events in the Netherlands, Martine conducted a special riders-workout, which was a big success. Both the consumers/trainees as well as the attending physiotherapists were enthusiastic. Ideally, when a person wants to take up riding lessons, the conscience of a riders own fitness should be brought to the attention immediately. By doing so, one can gain knowledge about the usage of different muscles during riding and the importance of a good condition for good teamwork and lots of fun with your horse. Often however, personal fitness and training only become an item within the professional sports. Since every professional riders once started out as a beginner, let’s act together and make personal fitness an item from the start in the equestrian sport! Because of her vast experience in dancing, sport and movement, Martine has made several programs specific for riders/amazons, which can help you to grow with your horse to the desired performance. These trainings consist of the following elements: Core-stability, coordination, balance, suppleness and muscle/cardio-condition, rhythm and reaction and use exercises from the following disciplines: Dance Condition training (tae-bo, bootcamp) Pilates Fall breaking (bootcamp) Fitness. Below you will find a basic home work-out which will start you off building you own condition. Example home-training (twice a week) Warming up: Powerwalking(with the horse) or jogging Ideally outside for 20 minutes as a warming-up. For a shorter indoor training, you can also jog stationary for 3 minutes while waving your arms. Perform the following exercises with 1 minute rope-jumping in between. Exercise 1: Push up: 1 minute This exercise can be done with your knees on the ground or with stretched legs (harder) Bend and extend your arms while holding your body straight Exercise 2: Pull over: 1 minute Extend your arms vertically and move them back and forwards. To add some extra weight, you can use a water filled bottle. Exercise 3: Squat: 1 minute Bend and extend your legs, while keeping your body as vertical as possible. Buig en strek de benen Exercise 4: Lunges: 1 minute Step forward with one leg and bend the other knee. Change leg each time Exercise 5: Crunches: 1 minute Move your upper body up and down (without pulling on your head) Exercise 6: Waist: 1 minute Describe half a circle, starting low next to your leg, going up in front of you and low to the other side. Use a water filled bottle a weight. Exercise 7: Shelf:1 minute Extend your arms while standing on your toes. Rest on your elbows or hands and stretch your body. Keep this position for 1 minute A stretching cool-down is recommended to finish the training. The more intensive elements of a work-out, like Pilatus and falling techniques and exercises on the horse are more suitable to be incorporated in a personal tailored program. With a personal program, one can specifically target the workout to improve the personal “painpoints”.