Returning to riding – by Jenny Richardson BHSAI

Are you thinking about returning to riding after a break, or a period of not owning a horse? If you are getting prepared for hopping back into the saddle, then this article is for you; and despite the fact that returning to riding might feel a little daunting, it is sure to all coming flooding back.

Regular exercise and low levels of concentrated feed are essential alongside maintaining a forage based diet.Whether you chose to have a break from horses due to work commitments, pregnancy, family commitments or after suffering a fall or accident, the first step is to find out what is best for you, so your return to the saddle is as seamless as possible. This may be choosing the right horse, finding the right riding centre, starting with gentle hacks, or taking a refresher programme selecting exactly what you need as an individual; an important part of safely ‘taking back the reins’.

Fit for purpose

It may be wise to undertake some basic fitness exercises and techniques, such as going for walks, joining the gym or swimming, before getting back in the saddle; consider something like yoga or pilates, if you are in need of some gentle suppling.

Of course, horse riding is a great way to stay in shape in itself. So if you are looking to get fit and exercise whilst having fun, you will find that horse riding strengthens your core musculature whilst toning the tum, bum and legs and arms during what could be a good cardiovascular workout.

Alternatively TROT (Toll Rides Off-road Trust) has extensive national network of horse riding routesNonetheless, despite your excitement about taking up riding again, it is important to take safety precautions. Up to standard helmets should always be worn, while a body protector is a highly useful piece of kit if you are feeling rusty.

Top tips for getting back in the saddle safely

Never feel pressurised to do something you are worried about, or are unconfident to complete; for example, jumping a particular fence, or riding a tricky horse. Remember, you are the safest when you are feeling confident and riding positively.

Ride out on the road in experienced company, and always wear high visibility gear, whatever the weather.

Complete some simple stretching exercises before and after riding, such as reaching up towards the ceiling, stretching down to touch your toes, and completing some simple lunges – these can help ease those aches and pains post horse riding.

Why not consider a riding break at Ireland’s Castle Leslie Estate, where Jenny Richardson BHSAI is Equestrian Centre Business Manager? This venue offers luxurious equestrian riding holidays and training breaks and refresher courses in the heart of Ireland. Visit


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