November 01, 2018

Equitation is the art or practice of horse riding or horsemanship.” (1)

The Maclay Finals Represents the Evolution of the Equestrian Athlete 

The indoor junior equitation season will reach it’s pinnacle this Sunday during the National Horse Show when the class laden with heritage and beyond rich in prestige, the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, will add one more name to its prestigious list of illustrious winners. This is the class that truly tests riders on the fundamentals of the American Hunter/Jumper System of Forward Seat Riding and the questions asked on course can be transferred over to any division.

IMAGE:  2017 Alfred B. Maclay Winner, Madison Goetzmann. Follow @NationalHorseShow on Instagram for daily highlights.

It is not disputed that since its inception in 1933, the courses have become more technical.  What has NOT changed is that the judging rewards riders that also demonstrate the pillars of solid horsemanship.  Forget the days of the “equitation diet” to have a certain look, the current competitor now benefits from a level of fitness that is achieved with physical and mental work both on and off of the horse.  The aggregate of these attributes creates riders that are truly athletes.

Why Fitness is Important for Athletes

An athlete is considered to be someone who is proficient with any form of physical exercise or in sports. The fact is that they have to be fit in order to achieve results in this highly competitive world of sports. 

  • There is no doubt about the importance of fitness in an athlete, as an athlete with the required skills but without the much-needed fitness cannot give good results continuously. 
  • Skills are known to be harnessed and developed as the years go by, but fitness is required to complement the skills that a person has for him or her to succeed. 
  • For an athlete to consistently perform during the event, fitness is very important as an athlete with poor fitness will get tired a lot faster.
  • A tired athlete will not be as sharp as he is when he is fresh and to retain freshness levels for a longer period of time an athlete has to be fit.
  • Fitness and skill are equally important traits that an athlete requires and therefore an athlete has to work constantly on developing both at the same time. (2) 

The performance of the equestrian athlete is enhanced by increased fitness used to complement one’s skills, achieve consistency and retain freshness levels. 


For all riders that are students of the American System of Forward Seat Riding, The Fit Equestrian has added an “Equitation Bootcamp Program” to their growing collection of cross-training products.  

It is imperative for athletes when cross-training for a specific sport to target the regions and use exercises that will enhance their performance, not hinder it. This is one of the benefits of using the Equitation Bootcamp Program. Created by a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, this program contains core, leg, and upper body strength workouts as well as cardio and flexibility training specific to proper equitation. The program explains why and how specific areas are targeted. For example, the upper body circuit focuses on improving posture and strengthening the muscles required for riding stronger horses, but discourages excessive strength in the chest, which may cause your shoulders to draw forward while in the saddle.  Additional exercises are provided to fix common equitation weaknesses like pinching with the knee and swinging the lower leg.  The Fit Equestrian values explaining “how” specific workouts will transition to your riding performance. 

The “EQUITATION BOOTCAMP PROGRAM” is a simple to follow 35-page pdf that includes written tutorials and pictures demonstrating each exercise.  Only dumbbells and a resistance band are needed and it can be completed almost anywhere- at the gym, in your home or even at the barn. Because it is a printout, you can follow along by flipping through the pages at your own speed- no wi-fi connection needed once it is downloaded!  

For more information and/or to purchase ($35.00), visit TheFitEquestrian.com or email info@thefitequestrian.com.


DISCLAIMER: Street to Stable offers health, fitness and nutritional information that is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equitation

(2) Source: Center for Multicultural Human Services downloaded Oct. 30, 2018 from http://www.cmhsweb.org/athletes-fitness.html


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