Endurance Rider – Laura Graham is a 3* FEI Rider who is passionate and dedicated to her sport. As an NHS Senior Manager who works extremely long hours, finding time to exercise is challenging, especially when you have 3 horses in work.
Laura has worked on Rider Fitness for a long time. Attending Rider Pilates classes as often as she could. Pilates has helped her a great deal but it wasn’t a complete program. It lacked strength development and cardiovascular improvement. Both attributes that riders need. Especially Endurance Riders competing long distances.
A change of approach to reach FEI 3* level in Endurance
Laura applied for a joint sponsorship with RiderCise and although she wasn’t selected, her application won her a sole sponsorship. Laura’s application noted that she believed she may have been the reason her horse ‘Farrah’ failed the final vet gate in their first 160km attempt.
As an Endurance Rider who dedicates everything to ensuring her horse is fit, happy and healthy for the task ahead. Laura felt that she had neglected her rider fitness despite having a sporty background and regularly taking part in Equipilates. Laura felt she was not able to support her horse when it really mattered. Given that her aim at the time was to qualify for an FEI 3* Championship, something had to change.
Let’s hear more from Laura Graham, about her background, aims and why RiderCise was key to getting her back on track.
“As a successful endurance rider, I spend a lot of time cross-training my horses. I’m always working to finesse their fitness and core strength, ensuring they are in optimum condition to perform and reduce risk of injury. However, over the years I’ve neglected my own fitness. I’d always done a lot of sport at school and been extremely fit, long distance canoeing, running and endurance riding. As I got older, with the demands of work and focusing all my down time on the horses and competing I let my fitness slip.
About 5 years ago I was experiencing really bad back pain, to the point I was having to take a break at work and go out to my car and sit there with the heated seat on to ease the pain. I was also collapsing in the saddle. I decided I needed to do something about it. It was at this time I found Equipilates. I loved it – my core strength improved and not only was it relaxing, but my back pain was gone. I was also more balanced in the saddle – not perfect, but better.”
Trying a 160km race for the first time
“In 2018, when I attempted my first 160k! Upon reaching 140km I realised how fatigued I was and how I hadn’t been able to hold my position throughout the competition. Whilst the pilates had massively improved my riding. I didn’t have the fitness and strength I needed to continue to ride well from start to finish. It really concerned me that I could be hampering my horse. I decided to try the ‘Couch to 5k’ programme. Rather sadly, I didn’t get beyond week two! I’d always hated running despite being quite good at it in my youth.”
Discovering rider-specific workouts
“Then along came RiderCise who designs workouts specifically for horse riders. Clare Gangadeen is a personal trainer, fitness expert, and horse rider so she really knows how to help horse riders improve their fitness. Her focus on encouraging clients to be the rider their horse deserves really resonated with me.
The process has been so enlightening for me. At 34, I am nowhere near as supple as I should be and probably never have been. My school sports teacher used to put it down to me being in the saddle for hours, but there’s more going on than that.
Through working with Clare, I have identified weaknesses and how I am compensating for them. I’ve been able to work on addressing my weaknesses through a progressive bespoke program and have seen considerable improvement.”
Noticeable improvements in the saddle
“I love how you continue to progress building your strength with more and different workouts. I actually enjoy working out now! My balance and riding have improved massively. When I recently completed a 140km endurance competition, I was as balanced and strong in the saddle at the end of the competition as I was at the beginning – how it should be. Something I have never felt before.
RiderCise designs workouts with better riding at its heart
“As much as I love pilates, I’ve come to realise that to be the athlete and rider your horse deserves and to perform at your best then pilates alone doesn’t cut it. My experience of pilates is that it focuses on static stretches. That really helps with suppleness but it doesn’t replicate being in the saddle. In contrast, the RiderCise workouts have a variety of strength, stretching and cardio training.
Everything is specifically focused on how your body needs to function in the saddle. The result is you are more supple, fitter and stronger. Each workout is designed to improve all the fitness components needed to be a better rider. What makes the workouts even better are that they are short enough to fit them into your busy schedule. I used to do pilates for an hour a week. Now, I exercise 6 days a week with RiderCise and I love it because I can feel and see the changes.
Part of a drive for perfection!
“I’ve definitely seen the additional benefits of the RiderCise strength and cardio programs. It allows me to progress and push my fitness to continually improve as I strive for perfection. No matter what discipline you compete in rider fitness and strength is a crucial part of your success. Be the rider your horse deserves.”
Try Demand for Yourself
Although Laura has a bespoke program, Clare believes that everyone should have access to Proven Rider Fitness Workouts which are Affordable, Accessible and Achievable.
In January 2021 RiderCise launched the NEW RiderCise On Demand Platform. The On Demand Platform provides riders across the world access to rider-specific workouts for less than £1 per day. All the workouts can be accessed on any device with an internet connection