Why is a Pre-Ride Routine So Important?

Photo by Jamie Isaacs Photography

BY Ifa Simmonds

Recently I had a few clients in a group training session ask me a great question.

 “I feel like I have my horse routine down from when I get to the barn, to when I’m done tacking and ready to ride, but I don’t do anything for me specifically and I would like to do that, but don’t know where to start. What are some things I should be doing to help me create a pre-ride routine for me?”

I was glad they brought up the topic of creating a pre-ride routine. Most of us have a routine for our horses, which becomes second nature with time and practice, and an essential part of our time before and in the saddle. On the other hand, the pre-ride routine for riders is often overlooked. I’ll share a few simple things to help you feel more confident in the saddle. With this information, you’ll understand how you can tailor a pre-ride routine that works not just for the horses, but for us too.

A pre-ride routine isn’t just another task to ‘check off’; it helps us to lay down a foundation for both of our successes. It’s all about setting every scenario for a great ride, both mentally and physically.

Here’s a few reasons why it matters for equestrians:

  1. Mindful
  2. Time efficient
  3. Personalized

Think of your pre-ride routine as a moment to press pause and get in sync with yourself. It’s about taking a few deep breaths, getting balanced, shifting into a specific mindset for an awesome ride and deeper connection with your horse. Everyone is busy, and time at the barn always seems to fly by. Your routine should be quick and seamless within your schedule. To make sure you’re not missing out on precious moments with your horse, do them with your horse if possible. We’re all unique, and our pre-ride routines should reflect that. What works for one might not work for another, and that’s okay! It’s all about finding what feels good for you. Most importantly, let’s make sure this routine is your friend, use the K.I.S.S principle of Keep It Short Simple. This should fit into your daily riding routine without adding stress or burnout.

Creating Your Ideal Pre-Ride Routine:

So, let’s move to the fun part – crafting your perfect pre-ride routine. Think of it as putting together your own recipe for success. Here are three ways to start:

  1. Mindful Momentum: You can do this in two ways, when you arrive at the barn and or just before getting on your horse. Take a moment for yourself. Find a less busy spot, whether it’s in your car, stall, tack room or a corner of the barn. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and let go of any tension and apprehension. This is your time to connect with yourself and set a calmer tone for a great ride.
  2. Set Intentions, Not Expectations: Once you’re with your horse and getting ready to tack up, use a few minutes to set your intentions for the ride. Instead of focusing on specific outcomes of what you, your coach or anyone else expects, think about how you want to feel and approach the ride with your partner. It’s all about empowerment and being present in the moment. I always recommend to my clients to talk to your horse as you’re setting these intentions. It sounds funny and might be weird at first, but the more you communicate with your horse the easier it is to build a stronger partnership.
  3. Warm-Up Movement: Think of the areas that you are tightest in your body and in the saddle. Is it your hips, ankles, shoulders. Choose one move for each area that helps you bring more focus and blood flow for your warm up. That could be mounting block calf raises, leg circles, and shoulder rotations. Do this for 1-3 rounds of 10 reps and I guarantee you’ll feel a difference.

The key to unlocking your best rides yet is becoming intentional mentally and physically before each ride. Your pre-ride routine is the secret weapon that strengthens the human animal bond we all love. Give it a try, altogether this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to do. Experiment with what works for you, but most importantly, enjoy the journey.

About The Author:

Ifa Simmonds is a passionate equestrian and expert fitness trainer dedicated to promoting optimal performance and well-being in the equestrian community with over 12 years of experience. He is also the creator of Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA), a community driven holistic rider fitness and wellness platform. With a deep understanding of the physical demands of riding, Ifa specializes in providing functional, practical, effective fitness and recovery solutions tailored specifically for equestrians. His expertise combines holistic fitness and wellness in the industry. Ifa is committed to helping riders take the reins and unlock their full potential to enjoy a balanced, healthy, and successful equestrian journey.