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PHYSICAL AND MENTAL PREPARATION FOR ADVANCED RIDING
Advanced riding is physically demanding. You must be strong enough to maintain your position in motion, and your muscles and joints must be supple to absorb shock and follow the horse's movements. You must be able to ride actively for longer periods without tiring, and your muscles must be fit and accustomed to doing their job. Being fit also decreases your chances of injury.
Riders need to be especially fit and strong in their core muscles (the deep inner muscles inside the abdomen.) You can strengthen and improve your core muscles through Pilates and similar forms of exercise that specifically work with these muscles.
Some considerations for preparation for advanced riding include:
Mental preparation, which can greatly improve your riding and your ability to get the most out of instruction and competition. Important aspects of mental preparation include focus and thinking in positive terms, reminding yourself of what you want to do. It is also important to have a clear intent of what you want the horse to do. Mental rehearsal of your competition rides also prepares your body and mind to repeat movements as you visualize them.
Body awareness helps you to feel what you are doing, and release excess muscle tension that keeps you stuck in incorrect habit patterns. This makes it easier to feel your horse's movement and reactions, and to ride with sensitivity, tact, and "feel." Even if you are not aware of how you use your body, your horse is. If you are stiff, crooked, or slightly out of balance, it interferes with his ability to move and carry you well. When a rider becomes aware of his body and improves, his horse often improves dramatically.