When it comes to the equestrian world, there seems to be this great divide between the disciplines. Dressage riders only ride dressage, jumpers only focus on jumping and eventers…. well eventers kind of do a little bit of everything because they have to. This training tunnel vision leads many riders to miss out on the edge that cross training can give them.
Why You Should Cross Train
Cross training happens when you work in parts of another disciplines training regimine into your own. This is a great way to work on a skill you need but in a way that also benefits you in another way. For dressage riders, working in gallop sets or small jumps days is an easy and fun way to work on your horses fitness and strength. Jumping is also a good way to teach your horse how to shift their weight back and become more uphill. For hunter and jumpers, simple dressage exercises will help not only your horse but also you as a rider gain strength and body control. There are a few jumper I know that have done one dressage ride a week and have seen amazing improvement in their equitation.
How Often You Shoould Cross Train
Cross training shouldn’t be overly complicated or time consuming. You also shouldn’t rush into it. Start by adding in something different once every two weeks when you warm up. Then make one ride every other week into a cross training day. Eventually one or two rides a week should be devoted to cross training.
What You Should Do to Cross Train
For hunters and jumpers, simple dressage exercises are a great addition to any training schedule. Collections, lengthenings, leg yields, and geometric exercises like serpetines are a good place to start. For dressage riders, small grids and adjustability exercises are probably the most useful. The jumps don’t have to be big and should not be anything you are not comfortable with. They just need to be big enough that the exercise is useful and helpful.
Cross training has many benefits for any and every rider. Slowly adding in anther disciplines training into your own is a great way learn new skills and become a well rounded rider.