RiderCise works with riders from all backgrounds to help them focus their fitness and conditioning on riding. We recently chatted to Helen Poulter, a lady who rediscovered her love of riding thanks to RiderCise’s fitness programmes and now spends her spare time enjoying the Yorkshire fells on her dream pony. Clare at RiderCise does also sponsor riders aiming to compete at high levels in their sport, which is how she met endurance rider Laura Graham.
A change of approach to reach FEI 3* level in endurance
Laura applied for a joint sponsorship deal with RiderCise and the equine fitness specialist Maggie Pattinson, and although she didn’t get it, something she said in her application caught Clare’s eye. Laura mentioned that she thought she had caused her horse Farrah to fail at the final Vet Gate of a 160km race. She had a sporty background and was regularly taking part in Equipilates, but knew she wasn’t 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 fitness programmes
“Then along came RiderCise, a bespoke fitness programme designed specifically for horse riders. Clare Gangadean 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’ve identified weaknesses and how I am compensating for them. I’ve been able to work on addressing my weaknesses through this progressive programme 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. When schooling, I’m able to help and not hinder my horse when working on their weaker side.
RiderCise is an all-round programme 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 programmes incorporate stretches alongside strength 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. It is just more of an all-round programme with regular workouts that are tailored to you. The sessions are short enough that you can fit them in your busy schedule. I used to do pilates for an hour a week. Now, I exercise 6 days a week with Ridercise and the app helps me to be more consistent. I love how tailored it is not only to your movements in the saddle but also your weaknesses. Regular adjustments enable you to work on one area, then the next, picking away at your weaknesses.”
Part of a drive for perfection!
“I’ve definitely seen the additional benefits of the RiderCise strength and cardio programme. 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.”
RiderCise not only works with riders at the pinnacle of their sport, like Laura Graham, but with riders from all backgrounds, levels and disciplines. The exercises are clear, tailored for riders and you don’t need expensive equipment. Take a look at the new RiderCise Workout on Demand programme here: https://riderciseondemand.uscreen.io If you would like to keep an eye on Laura Graham’s progress, why not follow her Facebook page? We can’t wait to see how she gets on as she aims higher and higher in the world of endurance!