Assessing your Riding Physical Fitness
Blue Sky Sage welcomes riders from advanced skill level to the intermediate/strong novice skill levels. However in order for each guest to receive the ride they expect, it is imperative that all individuals on a given ride week have similar skills and fitness levels. Over the many years we have been conducting horseback riding retreats, we have discovered that a rider’s ability to correctly post the trot is the best indicator of an individual’s skill level and fitness. For any Blue Sky Sage ride, it is imperative that as a rider, you honestly assess your physical capabilities before you book your Blue Sky Sage trip.
Horseback riding is a physical activity in and of itself, even at a walk. It requires that you have good core strength, control of your upper body, good strength in your legs and the ability to control the movement of your body while you are on the horse. If you don’t have control of your body while you are mounted on the horse, you are at risk of coming off the horse and becoming injured, or at the very least, injuring our horse by rocking around on his back. Horses don’t like pain any more than we do.
We highly recommend the practice of core building and awareness in a neat little book by Tom Nagel entitled “Zen & Horseback Riding: Applying the Principles of Posture, Breath and Awareness to Riding Horses”, Second Edition, foreward by Sally Swift. This little gem is the best guide to explaining the importance of core strength as it relates to riding, and how to engage and build those muscles.
Your body proportions play a big role in how you ride a horse. Being overweight by even 20 pounds will make it more difficult for you to ride successfully and can actually cause injury to our horses. It is very difficult for an overweight person that carries that weight in the top part of their torso to ride properly, particularly if you are short-legged too. The effect is that of a top-heavy load that is precariously perched up high that rocks and pounds right on top of a horse’s back, causing pain and usually injury to the spine, shoulders, hips and legs of the horse. Generally, women should weigh no more than 160 pounds if you are 5’5″ or less in height, relative to your overall physical condition, stamina, body type, etc. Taller women have a little bit more leeway, but only related to proportions of your body type, up to about 175 pounds. Men should not be over 180 pounds if you are 5’7″ or less in height and no more than 230 pounds if you are taller, again in relation to your overall physical fitness level and body proportions.
If you have any medical problems or physical limitations, we need to discuss these issues with you before you choose a ride. Let us know of any dietary considerations or special medical conditions you may have; within reason we can accommodate a gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian diet if we know well in advance. For vegans, you will need to plan on bringing supplemental protein. When you complete the Guest Information Form for us, there is a place to detail all of your diet and health conditions.
The other issue that plays into the physical fitness requirements is one of fairness. In other words, it’s not fair to the other guests on the ride if someone has overexposed themselves physically or skill-wise, and the rides are compromised for the rest of the guests. Let’s talk and get you booked into a ride week that compliments you at the level you are currently at.
Please don’t hesitate to call us at 307-260-7990 and talk about your physical condition, we’ll be happy to help you assess your skills and ability to enjoy a Blue Sky Sage ride safely and successfully.