At any level, exercises in the saddle help to develop your balance and confidence on the pony. Riding can be very tiring and your muscles can start to to ache after only 30 minutes. The more used to the basic riding movements your muscles become, the less stiff you'll be.
It's possible to exercise at home if you don't have your own pony. Stand with your feet placed about 60cm (2ft) apart. Keep your upper body straight but not stiff. Then just bend at the knee slightly, as though you were sitting on a pony. There you are, in position for riding! Bounce a little at the knee, straightening and bending. Do some of the arm exercises here as well and you'll soon be supple.
With your horse at the halt, hold on to the pommel with one or both hands. Slowly move your head ten times as if your nose was drawing a figure of eight. This relaxes your neck muscles.
Hold the pommel with your left hand and put your right arm out horizontally. make a clockwisecircling movement, as if you were drawing a big circle with your fingertips. Do this three or four times, then change hands and repeat the exercise.
PUNCHING THE AIR
Holding on to the pommel with one hand, punch the air with your other hand. This loosens your shoulder and back muscles. Repeat the exercise six times with each arm.
Stretch both arms out to the sides, at shoulder height. From the waist, turn to your left. Push your left arm as far round to the left as you can. Do this several times with both arms. Body twists are especially good for your balance, and for making your waist supple.
Sit upright and put your hands on your hips. Bend forward, as far as you can without tipping over. If you feel unsafe to begin with, do this exercise with one hand on the pommel. Repeat five times to strengthen your stomach muscles.
Put your right hand on the pommel. With your left hand lift your left leg as far back and up as it will go. Hold it there for a second or two.
Release your leg and, without looking, let it drop down so that it falls more naturally into the correct riding position.