RiderCise was founded on the belief that all riders, from the happiest of hackers and those new to the sport all the way up to elites and professionals, should make sure they are ‘fit to ride’. The benefits to the rider are many. They include being more stable and secure, more effective communication with the horse and increased strength and flexibility. For the horse, a rider who works on their conditioning will be a better partner than someone who is stiff, twisted, or sore. RiderCise founder Clare is on a mission to spread the word among pleasure riders and those who have taken a break from the sport. Her message – that rider-specific coaching doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a few minutes out to have a chat with Helen Poulter, a RiderCise customer who credits the company with helping her to revive her love of riding and gave her the confidence to finally enjoy her gorgeous Fell pony.
Tell us a little bit about your equestrian background
I’m 58 years old and I’ve been a lifelong rider, although I had to wait until I was 26 before I had a pony of my own! My youngest daughter was horse mad. My riding ambitions took a back seat for a little while as we did the full ‘Pony Club’ thing for her! When I retired, I bought myself a yearling Fell pony called Lownthwaite Walnut, who is known as Wally at home.
What do you like to do with your horse?
My idea of the perfect day in the saddle is heading out to explore the beautiful countryside. The landscape of the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas where I live. I had bought Wally as a yearling prior to my retirement. This was so that he would eventually become my partner in crime. I was hoping that together we would meet up with my horsey friends and ride all day. He was backed by my daughter and I sent him to be ridden away when he was 5 years old. When he came back, I climbed on board to start our journey together.
What inspired you to try the RiderCise Programs?
As you can imagine, I was so looking forward to getting out and about on Wally. However, but it didn’t work out quite the way I had planned. Sadly, even though he was lovely and tried very hard, I had lost so much of my riding fitness and my confidence… I felt utterly useless. After a while my confidence was so shot that I was ready to sell my beloved Wally until my friend Debbie intervened. She advised me to turn Wally away for a little while. Once I’d taken the pressure off myself with Debbie’s help and encouragement I was back riding Wally within 2 weeks. She accompanied me out hacking on one of her horses
Around the same time, I stumbled across a RiderCise article on an endurance riding forum. Even though I was walking and cycling every week, it began to wonder if some of my problems lay in my lack of specific ‘fitness to ride’. I signed up for RiderCise and can honestly say I have never looked back – it has been transformative.
Which RiderCise program do you do and how quickly did you start to see a difference?
I did the self-guided RiderCise program starting off with the Foundation level, which involves doing 3 workouts a week. The difference was absolutely amazing. In just 4 weeks my instructor commented on how much better I was riding. They said it was obvious it was that I was using and working the right muscles for riding. I had bought a new saddle and had previously had a biometric fitting. I had another shortly after starting the RiderCise program and they too commented on how much change there was.
How did it make a difference to your relationship and bond with Wally?
I had previously suffered from the long-term effects of a motorbike accident in my youth and was quite twisted. With the RiderCise workouts not only was I stronger rider and more flexible, I was also so much more aware of my body and how to use it. When I got back on Wally it was really special. The changes in him and how responsive he is are brilliant. It’s all down to me having the physical ability to communicate better with him. I remember going for a proper gallop on him for the first time and just feeling happy, not scared or nervous.
How do you fit it into your daily routine?
The foundation program is just three workouts a week. When I moved onto the intermediate it was four workouts a week. They are long enough to be effective but easy to fit in around other commitments. I would never stop doing my RiderCise exercises now, they are so important to my riding and my general wellbeing. I’ve had the extra confidence to go out and do so much more too. I’ve tried a western riding clinic, gone on longer and faster rides than I have for years and I’m going to dip my toe into classical equitation. RiderCise gives you a massive return for very little investment. As an added bonus, I have lost 1.5 stone since starting!
If you could give advice to anyone similar to you thinking about doing the program, what would you say?
I would say that if you love horses and you love riding, this is the best investment you will make all year. I used to think personal training and fitness program were for professional or elite riders, but I now know that’s just not the case. Anyone who wants to be a better rider for their horse should look at their fitness, flexibility and conditioning.
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