Bluebird Lane Blog
Bluebird Lane Blog

Posts in Category 'Rider Fitness'

The Paradox of the Growing Heap

by Lori Albrough on September 5th, 2012

There’s this philosophical argument called Sorites Paradox, also known as the paradox of the heap. Sorites (pronounced so-rite-ees) is a Greek word that simply means “heaped up”. The argument goes like this:

Suppose someone dumps a large sack of rice on the table. On the table now sits one heap of rice. Now suppose you take one grain of rice away, and set it at the other end of the table. How many heaps are there now? One grain of rice can’t be said to be a heap, so there is still just one heap, the original one. Now take another grain of rice, and relocate it to the new spot. We get the same conclusion, two grains is not a heap. The same with a third grain, and a fourth.

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Cardio Interval Training for Better Riding

Sprint!

by Lori Albrough on August 1st, 2012

It was just over twelve years ago that I showed up for my first dressage lesson. Excited and eager to learn proper technique from an accomplished coach, this was my first intro to true dressage riding, although I had been a rider for 25 years at that point. Less than ten minutes into the lesson, however, I found myself huffing, puffing, and overheating, and the only thing I was eager for was to take in enough oxygen and shed my top layers of clothing. And THAT was my introduction to what a physical workout riding can be!

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Rocks, Pebbles, Sand and … Stretching

by Lori Albrough on June 20th, 2012

We keep talking about the importance of stretching for riders, and about suppleness being the foundation of our position. And I know you agree, but what I hear from you is that sometimes you find it hard to fit it into your day.

This got me thinking about Stephen Covey’s Big Rock analogy. In case you haven’t heard it, I’ll start by sharing it.

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The Third Pillar: Fitness

by Lori Albrough on May 23rd, 2012

The Three Pillars of Your Riding Foundation is how I describe the basic building blocks that you use to create a strong platform for your success as a rider.

  • The first pillar is Focus, and it’s all about your mindset and the power of your attention in making daily progress towards your goals.
  • The second pillar, Fundamentals, is about true mastery of the basics, for both your horse and for yourself.
  • And today’s Pillar, Fitness, covers the whole physical side of things, ensuring that you are preparing your body to be able to actually ride the way you want to.

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Back Extensions: Core Strengthening for Riders

Back Extension with Twist

by Lori Albrough on April 18th, 2012

How do you build a strong foundation for your position so that you aren’t moved one little bit if your horse spooks or stumbles or even TRIES to pull you out of the tack? Where do you start with strengthening your body so that you can be that unshakeable in the saddle while offering your horse a soft, steady, sympathetic connection with your hands, without gripping, pulling, or tightening up?

The answer lies in core strengthening! But it’s not just about getting six pack abs like Brad Pitt flaunted in Fight Club. For a rider, or any athlete in a functional sport, training the core involves working ALL the muscles around the torso. Weak lower back muscles are often paired with weak abs, so this back extension exercise is a great place to start your core conditioning.

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The Habit of Daily Stretching

Fold, Drop, and Roll Stretch

by Lori Albrough on March 28th, 2012

The foundation of a horse’s training are rhythm and relaxation, sometimes expressed as rhythm and suppleness. These elements form the base upon which all the more advanced work is built. Similarly, for riders our foundation is suppleness, or flexibility.

For riding we are also going to need core strength, cardiovascular stamina, muscle tone and balance, but without that base of suppleness then tightness in our body will have us constantly working against ourselves. The tension or tightness will block the horse’s motion and have us essentially fighting against our own bodies in order to sit properly and use our aids correctly.

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Master Your Posture for Effective Back Training

by Lori Albrough on February 29th, 2012

Last month we talked about some stretches to loosen the chest muscles to help you improve your posture on the horse. Shoulders that are rounded forward and downward are often being pulled in by tight chest muscles. Once you have loosened up your chest muscles, you can start to strengthen the muscles of your back that support both good posture and good riding.

Three back exercises I like to use are the Bent Over Forward Raise, Bent Over Reverse Fly, and the Bent Over Row. These work the mid-back muscles and the muscles along the spine. Today I will talk about the first exercise, but first, in order to perform them properly we need to master the correct training posture.

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Training Straightness in the Rider: The Side Plank

Side Plank

by Lori Albrough on February 8th, 2012

Training straightness in your horse is important. So important, in fact, that “Straightness” rates it’s very own place on the training scale, right up there at the tippy-top underneath “Collection”. So it’s both a very advanced concept, and at the same time, very fundamental.

If we are not aware of, and working towards correcting, our horse’s intrinsic crookedness from the very beginning, we are in effect training his imbalances, reinforcing his crookedness, and making it more firmly entrenched.

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