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So after lunging, hacking and arena work I have my horse pretty fit and ready to start polishing what she already knows and adding new things after an easy winter of riding. The problem is that I'm behind the fitness curve and she's ahead of it. I can ride for an hour in the arena or do a few hour trail ride and school some issues or "fresh" behaviors. But 15 minutes of intense dressage work or jumping and I'm breathing like a racehorse and need a long walk break before I can get back into it. I was wondering if anyone had any at-home or at-barn exercises to help re-build cardio, flexibility, muscle tone, etc. I know that mucking stalls and carrying buckets helps, and that riding also builds muscle and cardio but that's not cutting it for me. Apparently I need more of a boost than normal chores and daily activities are giving me to get back into "riding fit". Any suggestions? Hopefully some other poor out of shape rider can benefit from this as well.
 

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I am currently in a similar situation. I am way out of shape, and I need to change it.

One of the things I've been doing lately is schooling my horses on the lead. I want them to be respectful and to lead right next to me. So I practice walking and trotting, and even do pivots, backs and setting up. (I even do this with some of the other horses in my barn.) Anything to get your heart rate up. If you have access to a swimming pool, that's great for cardio. Added benefit: it's easy on the joints.

For flexibility and muscle tone, I'd recommend yoga. It improves your balance, flexibility, and muscle tone. An added benefit for yoga is the improvement in your breathing and ability to relax.

Another thing I'm doing for cardio is helping my son practice baseball. Just playing catch and chasing all those stray ones (he's got control issues, LOL) burns a lot of calories. Walking the dog is also an excellent way to go. (I have an overweight doberman, and her weight is NOT controllable by her diet alone.) I'm sure I'll be able to think of more in the morning when my eyes don't feel like sandpaper. ;)

I'm interested in what other people recommend, too.
 

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I second the walk/trot with horse and/or dog suggestion - especially if you have a Bossy Collie, who refuses to let you slack off :)

Another thing that's good for cardio is biking, especially if you can use it for trips (like home-barn) that you might ordinarily drive, so you're replacing drive time with exercise time. (And saving gas money :))

Either way, just remember that you have to push yourself a bit to get the most benefit. (Look up target heart rates.) For biking, getting a speedometer/computer works for me. You find yourself trying to beat your previous times...
 
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