In order for us to be effective horse trainers, we need the fitness and strength to make the movements easy for our horses to perform.
Your core is essential for you to stay in balance with the horse.
If you look at famous grand prix riders such as Charlotte Dujardin, you can see how strong she is, but also how flexible she is too. She is not rigid, but also not floppy. Therefore she is using her core effectively. This is what we are all trying to create within our own riding.
There are several reasons as to why we need to look at having good core strength.
The first is for the good of your horse.
If you cant move in balance with your horse and are bouncing around on his back, the tendency is for the horse to stiffen through the back which prevents the horse from swinging and using himself to his full potential.
The second is for safety.
All horses have the potential to spook or jump. If the rider has no stability there is a good chance they could fall off. Stability is improved by strengthening the core muscles. This also makes the rider more reactive, and able to respond quicker.
The next reason is for the physical well being of the rider.
If your core is working well, generally your position is better and the rider is in a good alignment. This leads to better shock absorption and less stress on the riders joints and muscles. So less physical issues like lower back problems for the rider.
The other reason is that its not pretty!
Dressage should be harmonious. Horse and rider should look like a partnership. It doesn’t make for a good picture if the horse is all tense and tight with a rider behind the movement or bobbing around on top of the horse.
Its very easy to take for granted how physically demanding dressage riding is. We are starting to realise that to be the best in this sport, it is not enough to simply ride. There needs to be more time dedicated to the physical aspects of the rider.
Lets make sure its not us, as the riders of our fabulous equine friends, that are the weak link in our successes!