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These 7 Muscle Groups can Make or Break your Riding Performance

Lesson 2: Key Muscle Strength & Flexibility Requirements for Riding

Whether you are a showjumper, barrel racer, dressage rider, eventer, or polo player the ability to control a 1200+ pound horse requires a great deal of strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility. As you learn to ride you will develop the movement patterns required for your particular discipline, and your muscles will start to improve their strength. As an experienced rider you will typically have the strength required but may start to pick up bad habits due to muscle imbalances that begin to creep up if you don’t take your overall rider fitness seriously.

Let’s take a look at the key muscle groups involved in riding and why they are important. I’ll split this into upper body, abdominals, and lower body components.

Upper Body:

Scapular Stabilizers: These are the muscles that help stabilize your shoulder blades (scapulae). This includes rhomboid major & minor, serratus anterior, levator scapulae, and the trapezius group. These muscle groups are an important part of maintaining riding posture whether you are in full seat or half seat position. Strengthening these muscle groups will help prevent rounding of the shoulders as well as provide strength when dealing with a strong-willed horse.