“Positive body tension and core stability in the saddle are essential – I need both so that I can steer the horse without needing to use my hands,” Jessica explains.
A strong core gives you stability in the saddle and enables you to react to the horse’s every movement, even if the horse suddenly stops or shies away from something. A strong core is central to riding. “It’s crucially important for an independent seat and control of my entire body – including my hands and legs. Through targeted workouts, I gain strength and balance and become more flexible – all of this provides more physical control. With this control, I can master things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to control – like flapping legs or a nodding head.” In addition, the dressage rider recognises another crucial aspect of physical control: “If I have better feeling for my own body, I also have a better feeling for my horse.”
Sports scientist Marcel Andrä explains the importance of core stability: “A rider should be able to withstand, or rather, respond to the forces and movements of the horse that act on their body. The rider’s body must be able to compensate for these external forces to remain stable but relaxed while on the horse.” The challenge for riders, then, is to be “actively stable”, and not allow themselves to be moved around passively too much.” But core stability doesn’t just improve a rider’s posture in the saddle. It also has a positive long-term effect: “A good level of core stability massively helps riders to withstand the ongoing stresses and strains involved with the equestrian sport, it keeps their back healthy and therefore allows them to keep pursuing their passion long-term,” emphasises Marcel Andrä.
An exercise to improve core stability and positive body tension: Side plank
The side plank is a great exercise to improve your lateral core stability and body tension. Try to hold the plank for around 30 to 45 seconds on each side.
Important: Make sure that your body forms a straight line from head to toe. As soon as your hips start to drop or your upper body slackens, take a break and start again.