– It is important that you choose a fitness programme which you will enjoy and will maintain during the Pony Racing season. It should be fun and something you can do with your family and friends.

– If you have a family dog why not take it for a run rather than a walk?
– Or perhaps you enjoy swimming and can include a couple of sessions each week.
– If you like cycling take your bike out and instead of sitting comfortably on the seat stand up out of the saddle / seat and build up your leg muscles.
– Kick a football around with your friends or build an agility course.
– If you’re in the fortunate position whereby you have access to a mechanical racehorse or ‘equicisor’ this will be invaluable in improving your fitness levels whilst at the same time assisting you in riding a finish. A small rectangular bale of straw or hay can work just as well.

Maybe now is the time to take up a new sport, perhaps one you’ve thought about trying for a while. Whatever sport you choose remember it must increase your heart rate to increase your fitness levels and similar to getting your pony fit it is important that you too warm up properly before exercise and cool down properly afterwards.

At least two months before your first race practice riding with your stirrups shorter than you would normally ride. You might need to punch a few more holes in your stirrup leathers in order to do this. Remember however to shorten gradually otherwise you’ll lose your balance and will pull on your ponies mouth to regain your position which is no fun for your pony.  You should also not ride too short, as this is not always productive.

Once you have got your balance and you’re able to maintain it with your hands positioned softly on your pony’s neck, just in front of the saddle then do lots trotting and cantering maintaining this position.

The fitter you are the more assistance you will be able to offer your pony. The fitter you are the quicker you’ll also recover from injury should you take a tumble. Remember fitness must be fun; if you’re not enjoying it change to an exercise you do enjoy.

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