Sydney Olympian Amanda Ross confirms “we can actively compete at top level for a lot longer than athletes in most other sports. We need to help our bodies to ensure longevity in the sport.”
Not only will looking after our bodies as athletes help us last longer and suffer fewer injuries, it also makes us much more effective in the saddle.
British based Human Performance Coach, Jon Pitts, has based his whole business, Fit to Ride, on this idea and now conducts clinics throughout Australia and the world, helping riders learn how to use their bodies correctly and efficiently.
Since breaking her pelvis, Australian Olympic eventing rider Sonja Johnson has incorporated stretches and exercises - both on and off the horse - under Jon’s advice, while British and Australian eventers William Fox Pitt, Bill Levett and Lucinda Fredericks recognise the need to regularly stretch. The more adventurous, like British-based Australian eventer Paul Tapner and Dutch dressage rider Adelinde Cornelison, regularly like to challenge their balance and strength using a fit-ball to make sure they have what they need when it counts.
To give you an idea of the stress riders’ bodies are under while riding, British Four Star Event rider Francis Whittington’s recent second place at the British Eventing Open saw a heart rate spike of 184 beats per minute and an average of around 130 beats per minute over the course of the 12 minute cross country.