April is a time when many horse lovers are eager to hop into the saddle for their first spring ride. Horseback riding is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors with our friends and family (human and equine). Some of my fondest memories of country life are of riding with my dad on our beautiful horses, Tex and Shadow.

 To get the most out of your riding season, it is best to do some pre-season conditioning for your body. Muscular strength and endurance, balance and good posture are necessities of good riding. An effective tool for training the core muscles is the stability ball: ball work will improve balance and core strength. Leg exercises should include calf and inner thigh training as these are muscles that get a lot of work while riding.

Upper body exercises for your back, shoulders, biceps and triceps will also be helpful: use resistance bands and free weights for optimal results. Proper conditioning can also help prevent and manage back pain, which is a common ailment for riders. Postural strength, full body flexibility and an understanding of the movement mechanics between horse and rider are keys to avoiding pain and injury. So before riding off into the sunset, talk to a personal trainer or exercise specialist to help set up a conditioning program for your horseback riding season.

--No hour in life is wasted that is spent in the saddle—Winston Churchill

About the Author

Fitness Tips as published weekly in the PG Xpress Fit for lifecolumn

M. Gregor, B.A.

Chief Instructor and Fitness Trainer

Shadow Martial Arts: HapKiDo,

Self Defense and Cross Training

Martial Arts instruction for all ages.

185 Dominion Street. Call: 564-4025