Fitness trainer Ifa Simmonds performing a plank on an exercise ball.

3 Equestrian Fitness Myths to Bust Right Now!

—Ifa Simmonds, Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA)

Everyone comes up with a variety of reasons why they “can’t” do something!

I’ve heard it all before:

At the Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA), I talk about my WHY often and what’s made me so focused and serious about working with equestrians. For me, WHY = HOW. It’s not just about fitness! There’s so much more involved, like adjustments in attitude, outlook, mindset, and daily habits that lead to being a more successful and healthier, higher-performing rider. We all know it’s a lifestyle! I’m just here to add more knowledge and expertise bit by bit to make that lifestyle even more enjoyable in the long run.

Ifa Simmonds of Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA).
(Photo credit Hilary Murphy Photography)

Let’s go over some of the equestrian fitness myths often I encounter and bust them so you can get started on this journey today!

Myth #1: “I don’t have time; I’m too busy.”

As the saying goes: “Make excuses or make changes―the choice is yours.” Fitness does not always have to be 60 minutes or longer to reap the benefits; 30 minutes or less will do the job just as well. Instead of defaulting to, “I’m too busy,” note what you’re often saying to yourself and others. You are only as busy as you convince yourself you are…

I’m a big believer in the power of your subconscious mind. We think with our conscious mind, and whatever you routinely think settles down into your subconscious mind, thus creating your reality. In English, that means what you continue to tell yourself is what you’ll continue to experience.

Next time you hear yourself saying “I’m too busy,” out loud or in your head, take some action, start with and use the time you have. Even small amounts of time will yield slow but meaningful results, and any progressions you make are better than doing nothing.

Myth #2: “Riding My Horse is Fitness.”

(Photo credit Hilary Murphy Photography)

It doesn’t actually officially count as fitness for your body. Every time I say that riders respond, “but sometimes I get sore, and my heart rate goes up.” This is absolutely true, and that’s a part of the benefit of the sport and lifestyle. I want you to remember this rule, and you’ll hear me reference this a lot in my program, “If you put the stimulus on the body, it will create adaptation.” This means that, in order for riding to become fitness, you’d have to lift weights or use external resistance while riding. Otherwise, your body experiences the same-old-same-old exertion it does every time you ride, and it will adapt no further.

Our brains are wired to take the easier route, follow quick fixes, and create shortcuts. Incorporating rider-specific exercises and workouts improves rider performance and equipoise in the saddle. During those time-sensitive workouts, make sure you’re directly focusing on important components like postural strength, stability, and mobility, to name a few.

Myth #3: “I Can’t Afford It.”

(Photo credit Hilary Murphy Photography)

I believe health is an investment, and I know you believe that too. That is why you take such good care of your horse(s) by giving them all the best possible nutrition and healthcare. However, “If you aren’t making time for your health, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” We’ve probably all heard that before.

A healthy life is a healthy future! I want you to love and care for yourself the same way you do your horse(s). Tell yourself, “If I spend X amount on my horse’s health and fitness, I will spend that same amount on my own health and fitness, as well. After all, you are a team, and a team is only as strong as its weakest player.

Taking care of your horse(s) is a priority, but you must also prioritize your own self-care high up on that list. It’s important that we bring our best selves to our horse(s)―every stride, every ride. The first step in achieving the ultimate unity and greatest potential with your horse(s) is becoming honest and real with yourself about any shortcomings you may currently bring to the team. The first step to defeating those shortcomings is moving past these equestrian fitness myths.

To learn more about equestrian health and fitness, visit our Rider Wellness page.

Author profile
Owner at Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA)

Ifa is a lifelong fitness enthusiast and horse lover. He is a performance coach who’s worked with a host of different sports and demographics throughout his 10+ year career. Training your common sports like basketball, football, baseball, soccer and others. He’s also enjoyed training the other sports like fencing, Irish dance, triathletes, Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing, as well as training various equestrian disciplines for over 5 years. With quite a few years behind the scenes of working for different fitness facilities in multiple states, Ifa has reinvented himself by creating his own brand focused specifically on Equestrian Fitness. Dating back to his Eagle Scout days, he truly enjoys the outdoors and you can find him on a hiking trail, at an arboretum/botanical garden, or horse shows in New Jersey. When he isn’t enjoying the great outdoors, he’s writing articles/sharing information, or coaching with his riders in the Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA).