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Equestrian Workout Routine: On the Road Exercises for Equestrians

Equestrian Workout Routine: On the Road Exercises for Equestrians

It's no surprise to anyone that travels to rodeos, horse shows or competitions — gyms, workouts and healthy food can be hard to find on the road. Often, our dashboards are our dining tables, and our workouts for equestrians are our everyday activities. If you're looking to improve your fitness level, strength and athleticism but don't know how without a gym or equipment, keep reading!

Equestrians are athletes, but we often neglect ourselves. We often put far more effort into our animal athlete partners than our own fitness and health. We weigh, measure and monitor our horse's nutrition and supplements and fine-tune their exercise routines, but we eat whatever is convenient and think that carrying their water buckets and riding is enough to keep us at the top of our game. What if I told you that you could improve your equestrian workout without stepping foot in a gym?

equestrian workout

Benefits of Exercises for Equestrians

You and your horse are a team, but without proper strength, flexibility, coordination, stability and balance, you are making your horse's job HARDER! Have you ever given someone a piggyback ride? It is much more difficult to lug them around if they hang off you with their arms around your neck like a deadweight sandbag. If they are strong enough to brace with their legs, support themselves off your neck and back and have good balance and stability, it's much easier to move and carry them. That's why an equestrian workout routine is so important.

If a horse can feel a fly land on its back, it can feel every muscle you flex (or don't.) And while they do their best to compensate for our shortcomings, their performance is hindered when we are not fit.

As one-half of this partnership, we should strive to ease their burden. So, let's talk about workouts for equestrians to make your horse's job easier!

Key Muscles Used in Horseback Riding

We all know the feeling of "everything hurts, and I'm dying" when we haven't ridden in a while and get back on our horse for a good workout. So, what muscles does horseback riding work? What muscle groups should you focus on during your equestrian workout routine?

Core Strength

Core strength is the main priority for keeping our balance and good posture. Strength exercises for horse riders should focus on these major muscle groups:

  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Obliques
  • Back Extensors

Upper Body Strength

An equestrian workout that focuses on upper body strength is imperative for mounting and dismounting, proper shoulder and posture positioning, rein tension and cueing. Even with the lightest touch, riding for a long time takes a surprising amount of upper body strength.

Just try the "T" test! Hold your arms straight out to your sides in a T position with no weight, and see how long you can hold that position. Fatigue in your arms can send the wrong cues to your horse.

Include workouts for equestrians that focus on:

  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius

Try adding a walkout to push up sequence to your mix of exercises for equestrians to target both your upper body and core simultaneously.


Legs! Legs! Legs! Without excellent leg strength, we cannot adequately guide, que or communicate with our equine partners.

Your equestrian workout routine should target:

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Adductors
  • Abductors


Your heart and cardiovascular health also need to be tended to! No one likes to huff, puff and suck wind while riding. Proper cardiovascular exercises for equestrians keep your blood and oxygen pumping to all the right places.

The Total Body Equestrian Workout

Do you feel like workouts for equestrians target your whole body? Well, you're right! Total body workouts and compound exercises are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck and take the least amount of time.

At NRS, we love a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) equestrian workout. Pick six or eight exercises from the list below, do each exercise four times and then move on to the next. Download a timer app on your phone and set the intervals for 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest. You can increase the "on" time and decrease the "rest" time as you progress.

Remember, listen to your body, start slowly and build up your strength and endurance. Rome wasn't built in a day! Nike Training Club has an excellent exercise library, or good ol' YouTube provides countless how-to videos that can be incorporated into your equestrian workout routine. Be sure to consult with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.

Exercises for Equestrians

Legs Upper Body Core Cardio
Air Squats Bicep Curls Hanging Leg Raises Max Jumps
Walking Lunges Tricep Dips Crunches Toe Taps
Reverse lunges Pushups Reverse Crunches Mountain Climbers
Sumo Squats Plank with Shoulder Taps Knee Tucks
Calf Raises Side Plank with Hip Dips High Knees
Elevated Knee Ups Pull Ups Hollow Holds Butt Kickers
Glute Bridges Walkout to Push Up (Inchworms) Lateral Ice Skaters
Knee Extension Upright Row Supermans Jumping Jacks
Romanian Dead Lifts Lateral Raises Supine Toe Taps Abduction/Adduction Jumps
Burpee with Max Jump and Push Ups
Squat to Press

Remember, taking care of our equine partners is only half of the equation. Taking care of ourselves can help our horses work and perform better. Your only regret will be that you didn't start sooner.

Equestrian Workout Gear

So what should a cowboy or cowgirl wear for their workouts for horseback riders? Show off your love of Western style when you wear equestrian workout clothing and shoes from NRS! A Texas t-shirt paired with joggers lets your country aesthetic shine through even when riding a bike instead of a horse. Our women's Western collection includes comfortable high-rise leggings that are stylish enough to wear around town. We also have athletic Western menswear options that let him show off his rugged cowboy personality when wrangling free weights. And a pair of waterproof sneakers will keep you light on your feet no matter the weather.

Find Western Equestrian Workout Essentials at NRS

Every horse person knows that equestrians are athletes, and we can help you dress your best for your equestrian workout routine. Bring your Western style to the gym when you do exercises for equestrians with gear from NRS. From athletic clothing to footwear, we have just what you need for a successful workout for equestrians — shop now!

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