Clare Gangadeen is the founder of horse rider conditioning business RiderCise®. In this blog, she takes us all the way back to 2012 when a nasty fall changed her life forever and explains why RiderCise® looks at rider fitness and being fit in a whole new way.
I have loved horses and riding since I was a little girl, so it was a dream come true when I finally bought the horse of my dreams in 2012. Annick is a beautiful Friesian mare with huge expressive paces and the most incredible nature. I was so excited about our future partnership. As a fit and experienced rider, I didn’t foresee what was going to happen next.
A scary fall that lead to some reflection…
I had a fall which completely shattered my confidence and could have had a long-term impact on my health. Those expressive paces and Annick’s big movement that I loved so much were the root cause of an accident. It not only left me in pain, but also made me question my abilities as a rider.
Annick became scared of a flapping label on the back protector I was trying to see if it caught on my saddle. Being only a green 5-year-old, she took off around the school with power and speed. I lost my balance due to her sheer power, scaring her even more and causing her to go faster. My saddle slipped which caused her to start bucking, and I hit the ground with enormous force. As she travelled past me, she kicked me with her hind on the peak of my hat. She only missed my face by centimetres.
Winded from the impact of hitting the floor, I got to my hands and knees and tried to breathe. I looked at Annick who was stood by the gate looking back at me which fear, concern and confusion.
Annick wasn’t at fault, I knew that I was responsible for not being in better control of my body. Had I been better balanced and stable, I could have reacted better to her spooking at the label. That means I wouldn’t have contributed to her fear, which provoked her more.
As a fitness specialist I’ve spent years working on myself to ensure I was strong, lean and had an aesthetic look to my body. However, I wasn’t conditioning myself with riding in mind. I wasn’t holding up to my side of the partnership.
Could being ‘rider fit’ have helped?
The muscles we use for riding are different from those used in other popular fitness activities and sports. Of course, it’s far better to be a rider who goes for the occasional jog or spin class than it is to do nothing at all. Improving cardio fitness is great but it will not provide you with the strength, coordination and mobility to independently move your body in the way the riding requires.
Riding, at any level and in any discipline, requires the individual to have the appropriate strength, power, endurance and stamina along with the range of motion (ROM) for the movements required.
Not only does rider conditioning enable stable, safe and clear communication between you and the horse, it also helps protect the rider against the severity of injuries that can occur if the horse suddenly spooks, stops, spins or bolts!
“I know that the one thing my unfocused training had provided was it prepared my muscles, ligaments and joints to deal with external stress. Other than suffering concussion for 10+days I didn’t have any sprains, bruising or bone breaks.“
A rare combination of riding and fitness expertise
As a personal trainer and soft tissue therapist with over 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry, it was only natural that my thoughts turned to rider conditioning. I know the benefits of being fit. But I also know first-hand the difference of being ‘Rider Fit’.
I developed RiderCise® to help riders understand the how their body affects their horse and give them the tools to change it for the better. I’ve tapped into everything I know from background in the fitness industry with expertise from my riding journey and that of the coaches and instructors I’ve worked with.
“I truly believe that you need the rare combination of true fitness expertise and an understanding of the role of the rider to create targeted rider fitness programmes. And that’s where I come in!“
RiderCise® fitness programmes
RiderCise® has supported and self-managed fitness programmes that are designed to fit around your life. Horse owners are some of the busiest people around. They’re often juggling jobs, families and an all-consuming passion with the occasional snippet of downtime! RiderCise® needed to be easy to access and follow, so that riders could make them part of their weekly routine.
Riders can access the programmes from a tablet or smartphone. Plus, to make it even more accessible and affordable RiderCise® will soon be launching a new video platform. Here, riders can work out alongside me on any device or through their TV, whenever it suits them.
Riding is a partnership and a sport, so rider fitness is just as important as horse fitness. It is not just for elites, it is for anyone who wants to ride better, ache less and recover quicker.
My aim is for riders to take as good care of themselves as they do their horse. RiderCise® changed my life forever. Will you rise to the challenge and allow RiderCise® to change your life? Explore the different programmes here.
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