Riding Fit

Eating Right to Ride Fit

Accomplished horsewoman and equestrian fitness expert Emily J. Harrington offers advice on the best exercise and diet regimen to ride fit.


I ride hunt seat equitation, and I'm looking for good exercises to strengthen my thighs and calves, and a diet to help me get the best out of each ride.

Thank you in advance,




The best thing for you to do is ride, of course. But I would also suggest doing leg work that includes calf raises, squats and hamstring curls, all done with lighter weights and high repetitions. The higher reps will put more focus on endurance, rather than just strength. Make sure to include stretches for the same muscle groups, such as wall stretches for calves, bringing your heel to your seat for a thigh stretch, and putting your leg up on a bench for a hamstring stretch.

As for diet, this is where you need to experiment a bit. The best rule of thumb is to have a little protein, fat and carbs present in your meal. But you need to know what your body likes. For instance, a piece or two of pizza provides carbs, fat and protein (probably in that order, but don't hold me to that!), but you might not digest it as easily as yogurt with fruit and granola. Yogurt with fruit and granola, by the way, is a personal favorite meal of mine before I ride or exercise. I digest it easily and it satisfies me.

I hope that helps!

-- Emily J. Harrington, CPT, equestrienne fitness trainer, is a multiple AQHA world champion and top-10 World Show finisher.

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