You don't forget how to ride ! Tips for getting back into it

Almost every rider takes a longer or shorter break from equestrian sports at some point in their life. Be it for health, work, or private reasons. Sometimes it's just the flu or a pulled muscle that keeps you out of the saddle for a week or two, but other times the abstinence from riding lasts longer, spanning months or even years.

If you then put out feelers in the direction of the riding stables again after a more or less long break, you often hear the same saying from other riders: "Riding is like riding a bicycle, you don't forget it!"

Getting back into riding: is it that easy?

After months, can you just get back in the saddle and start riding as if nothing had happened? In my riding life so far I have had interruptions from time to time. My longest break was 8 months - and I had a few ailments when I came back. For this reason, I would like to write today about what it is about unlearning and not unlearning. And give you a few tips and tricks on how to make it easier for you to get back on board.


It can be said: It's true, you don't forget to ride. Similar to cycling or swimming, the movement patterns that we carry out when riding solidify. Over time and through repetition, they ensure that we don't hop around on the horse like a beginner after a long break.

Our brain and body “remember” the movement sequences in the saddle

However, our brain can only store the rider's movements if we have practiced them long enough and intensively beforehand. So if you are a beginner and take a longer break after just a few weeks of riding, you have to start all over again. After all, humans are creatures of habit and learn through repetition!

How is it going now, riding for the first time after a long break? I can report from experience: exhausting! Our head may remember what we were once able to do and our body knows the processes. Our muscles, on the other hand, quickly forget what they used to do effortlessly.

Muscles that are not used and trained lose strength

Anyone who interrupts equestrian sport without a sporting "substitute" quickly loses the necessary muscles - driving suddenly becomes twice as difficult, when you sit out you feel like jelly and your legs hang down powerlessly. You feel terribly weak and quite unproductive. Because giving effective help is out of the question. It's the same with the condition. After a long, sporting break, we quickly get out of breath and feel short of breath. An hour-long ride or longer canter and trot work is out of the question..

What other sport can I do during the break?

It can therefore be helpful to practice another sport during a break from riding to maintain muscle strength and condition. Of course, you don't have to run to the gym and lift weights 6 days a week. But with a certain basic level of fitness and a few simple exercises to strengthen your muscles, you can make your return to work much easier!


If you have had to give up horseback riding for health reasons, for example, an injury, it can be helpful not to get back in the saddle straight away, but to do strength and endurance exercises for a few days or weeks first. Sure, it's tempting to jump right back on horseback, but it's important to remember that we need to be working with another living being and in control of our bodies to communicate from the saddle. Not every horse is as good-natured and well-balanced as a school horse and some four-legged friends may react more violently to faulty aids. Mistakes, misunderstandings, or even falls can be avoided if we prepare and train our bodies a little.


But not only the physical is important...

At the same time, you have to keep in mind that a longer break can affect your relationship with your partner horse. Things that previously never caused problems can now become difficult or even dangerous due to a lack of trust or hesitant action. It can help to first deal with (your) horse from the ground to get back to the "matter horse".


So now the time has come : The first time riding is coming up!

Full of anticipation, it goes into the saddle. It's going well! A look in the mirror shows a happy face - and a crooked rider. yikes Did I just sit like that? Just felt...

Mistakes always creep in quickly, even with regular riding. You can feel many things or fix them yourself with a critical examination, other problems can best be solved with the help of a trainer. After a break from riding, however, there is often a lack of the necessary body awareness and mistakes in the seat creep in faster than one would like.

I can say from my own painful experience: If possible, ride regularly with a qualified trainer, especially when you start riding again so that you don't get used to a faulty seat in the first place! Anyone who finds a torso tilting forward, a leg that is too far behind, or a bend in the hip to be “normal” and no longer notices their incorrect posture themselves will have a lot of work to do to correct these errors afterward (we remember the point about learning through repetition!). If, on the other hand, you have a critical pair of eyes at your side, mistakes can already be corrected in the first few hours of re-entry - your seat and therefore your horse will thank you!


By the way, you shouldn't completely ignore the returning horse

A "teacher" who doesn't let anything shake him and who doesn't lose his nerve even if you sit out a bit bumpy in the beginning, is better suited for your return to training than the young dressage trainees, who quickly respond to any imprecise or too strong help goes in the air. If you don't want to get back on your horse, but have to start looking for riding participation, you should also explain openly and honestly when contacting us that you are a returnee, so that the horse's owner can decide whether his horse is suitable for you or not.

All in all, one can say: The other riders are right with their statement and with a little preparation you can get back "in" faster than you initially thought. With a little support, diligence and time, you can quickly pick up on previous riding skills. So dare and get back in the saddle!


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