Guest Blog: Dr. B's Fitness Tips for Equestrians Posted on 29 May 21:30

Dr. B’s Fitness Tips for Equestrians
by Emily K. Beasley, Ph.D., CHES

[Note from Cori McGraw: When I found out that Emily Beasley, a.k.a "Dr. B." has a business focusing on fitness specifically for equestrians, I had to learn more. I asked her to write guest blog to share with us some fitness tips for busy riders who are often already terribly pressed for time, and she generously agreed to write this article just for the High-End Used Saddles followers on Facebook. Thank you, Dr. B. for taking the time to share your thoughts with our readers! I know I can relate to the scenario she describes in the article, and I'll bet you can, too. While others are getting fit for bikinis this summer, we care about being fit for riding. Okay, maybe we care a little about being ready for bathing suit season, too. Fortunately, these goals are not mutually exclusive. Without further ado, I bring you equestrian fitness expert, Dr. B.]


My fiancé’ Amon and I make living a healthy lifestyle a priority and often workout together at the gym. As a matter of fact, although he may say otherwise, I really do enjoy the time that we spend together there. Unfortunately, this is not something that we get to do together very often and our daily conversation is fairly predictable:

Amon: What time do you think you’ll finish work today?

Me: Hopefully by 4:30.

Amon: Do you plan to go to the gym with me?

Me: Well, I’m going to the barn first and….

At this point in our conversation I will usually be on the receiving end of one of his infamous “head shakes,” because he knows that no matter how much I promise and try to appease him it is going to be dark before I get home. In reality, even if he did wait on me, neither of us really enjoys working out at 9:00 p.m. I’m fairly certain that this is a common occurrence among most riders and as we all know, we’re ALWAYS going to chose riding and our horses first. So the question really is how do we do our horses justice and give them our very best? We expect them to be fit and in “tip-top” shape, but often don’t do the same for ourselves. I mean really, who has the time?!

Now I know at this point you’re thinking “But I RIDE - that is a work-out!” Not to mention all of the chores you have at the barn - carrying buckets, mucking stalls, tossing bales of hay over your head like Superwoman… I hate to break it to you, but that’s not really going to have a significant impact on your fitness. Yes, all of those things are considered physical activity and will help you maintain your health, burn calories, and maintain functional strength. But, I’m not talking about physical activity for health here, or even your riding “work-outs”- I’m referring to FITNESS that will positively impact your riding. In order to improve fitness, you will actually have to train the various components of fitness (e.g. endurance, strength, etc.). You know all of those trot sets you do to improve your horse’s fitness? Consider your own training as the same thing, except focused on the rider. In addition, you know how your horse may have a “bad” side (as in his left and right sides may be unevenly developed) and you spend a significant amount of time in your flatwork addressing his weaknesses? Guess what - you have weaknesses and imbalances too! As a matter of fact, as riders, we have very distinct muscular imbalances that are unique to our sport, regardless of discipline. Therefore, as riders we need sport-specific fitness and training programs.

For those of us who work full time and have family responsibilities in addition to caring for our horses, heading off to the gym is not always practical, or even functional. That’s what Boot-Camp for Breeches is all about: Functional Fitness for Equestrians. So, here are a few barn workout tips for my fellow equestrians out there!

  • If you’re like me and get distracted with various chores and tasks at the barn, set an alarm/reminder on your phone to workout. Don’t let yourself lose track of time!
  • Use the resources you have - you DO NOT have to purchase and haul around expensive workout equipment. For example, a tack trunk can be used for modified push-ups. I even have my clients use saddles for dead lifts!
  • Likewise, there is no need to invest in new exercise clothing - your breeches are perfect!
  • Find a partner- you’ll be more likely to maintain your fitness program if you have a “barn buddy."
  • Set small, specific, measurable, and achievable goals. A major lifestyle overhaul will likely be unsuccessful!
  • Keep track of your progress- it will motivate and inspire you!
  • Try a circuit workout. Set up approximately 6 stations and perform each exercise continuously for 60 seconds. Take a 30 second rest between each station and rotate. Repeat 3 times- it will only take 27 minutes!
  • Check out a local Yoga class- flexibility is essential to riding. It will also help you become more aware of your own imbalances.
  • Visit a local gym and get a fitness evaluation - it’s essential that you know what areas you can improve and will benefit most from.
  • Attend a Bootcamp for Breeches clinic! Email for more information.

Who is Dr. B? Emily Beasley has a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University and is currently the coordinator of the Health and Physical Education Teacher Education program at LSU. When she’s not working, she spends her time eventing with her OTTB, Ten Steps, and going to the gym with her fiancé’, Amon. In her spare time, she works with clients designing and implementing sport-specific fitness programs for equestrians. You can contact her at, through her Facebook Page “Bootcamp for Breeches,” or her website