Improve Your Riding Reflexes With These Three Exercises May 27 2015

Reflexes might seem like one of those things you're born with, like an outie belly button or an unnatural craving for pop tarts. While there's some truth to this, you can actually train your reflexes so that you respond more quickly when your horse decides to go off script.

Drax the destroyer reflexes

To be clear, when we talk about 'reflexes', there are really three 'phases' you need to train:

  1. Reaction Time: This is more about time spent on your horse (and spent getting to know your horse) than anything else. Put simply - how quickly are you reacting to the signals your horse is sending?
  2. Response Time: Or how quickly you choose a response to these signals. Practice is a big part of this too, but you can improve your response time at the gym or at home by training your agility and muscle memory.
  3. Response Speed: Or how quickly your body follows your mental response. This is the biggest area where training can improve your reflexes.

Why bother?

Because every step your horse takes won’t be the same, and having good reflexes will help you adjust in your body and in your bridle to better handle any changes.

If your horse shies or overreacts to anything in the arena, you don’t want to be sitting there confused with your mouth open, following your horse’s lead.

What should I do?

The three exercises we're going to cover today each have benefits for your riding reflexes specifically. The first is a relatively simple side shuffle:

This will add strength and speed to the lateral movement in your lower body. As the gentleman in the video mentions, it's also a great metabolism booster (as are all of these exercises), for 'getting you in those skinny jeans', or if you prefer, jods.

Our next exercise - dumbbell punches- is ideal for improving the strength and speed of your core.

And as an added bonus, dumbbell punches are also a great exercise for your stability and balance.

Last (but absolutely not least) is a speed-rope exercise, which will help with developing quicker and more responsive feet.

How should I do them?

A great way to do all three of these exercises in a single session, with a huge cardio and fat-burning upside, is with a quick, high-intensity Tabata circuit (read about these in more detail here). To do so:

  1. Do 20 seconds worth of shuffles, then rest for 10 seconds.
  2. Follow that with 20 seconds of punches, then 10 seconds rest.
  3. Then 20 seconds of speed rope, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
  4. Repeat the above circuit 3 more times, for 4 total times through.