When riding a horse, your posture is of upmost importance. As you slip into the saddle, you've lost the stability of the ground below you and are at the mercy of the horse—so the only things keeping you stable are your core and leg strength. Your posture also affects how your horse moves.
You'll naturally gain strength as you continue to ride, but doing exercises to strengthen your core, including your hips, and legs out of the saddle will help the process go faster.
Read more: Exercises to Become a Better Horseback Rider
Side Leg Lifts
Leg lifts strengthen your legs, your hips' stabilizer muscles and the muscles surrounding the spine. It's common for one side to be harder to complete than the other; this indicates that one side is stronger and you must rectify that imbalance to better your posture.
How-to: Get onto the floor and lie on your side. Use your bottom arm to support your head, and balance yourself with the top arm, if necessary. Extend your legs, flexing your ankles so your feet are perpendicular to your legs. Keeping your body still, raise your top leg and lower it back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times, and then turn over to work the other side.
Single-Leg Toe Taps
These toe taps also highlight imbalances in your hips and legs and provides a solid core workout, particularly in the lower muscles.
How-to: Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Position your arms so they're supporting your head and lean back into a V-sit. Lift your feet a few inches off the ground and, while keeping your core engaged, lower your feet one at a time, just enough for your toes to tap the floor. Alternate taps, aiming to work up to 30 seconds of toe taps.
The plank works your whole body, from your shoulders to your core, glutes and legs.
How-to: Get onto your hands and knees. Push your knees off the ground so your body is in a straight line from the top of the head to the heels of your feet. It will take engaging your core muscles to avoid arching the back or sagging the hips. If it's more comfortable, you can drop your elbows and balance on your forearms. Hold as long as you can, and aim to increase your stamina over time.
Lateral Twisting Plank
A variation of the standard plank, the lateral twisting plank engages similar muscles as riding a horse does.
How-to: Get into the static plank pose. Engage your core, lift your right arm and twist up. Your right arm goes straight into the air; pause for a moment at the top. Return to the starting pose and repeat on the other side. Aim to complete 10 to 15 reps on each side.
Read more: Pilates Exercises for Horseback Riders