Our bodies, our stamina, our aches and pains, our weight. Here are resources to answer questions and get advice.

Before you climb into the saddle, take stock of your fitness level and what you must consider to enjoy your time with your horses:

Personal Trainers

These are the major organizations that certify personal trainers. While they all offer variations of basic personal training, each has specialties. All include some type of training for seniors, although many are geared toward more sedentary people. Some also offer certification for nutrition and other lifestyle interests.

– ACSM: American College of Sports Medicine

– ACE: American Council on Exercise

– AFPA: American Fitness Professionals and Associates

– ASFA: American Sports and Fitness Association

– IFPA: International Fitness Professional Association

– ISSA: International Sports Science Association

– NASM: National Academy of Sports Medicine

– NFPT: National Federation of Professional Trainers

– NSCA: National Strength and Conditioning Association

Online Fitness programs

There are dozens of online workout routines. For most people, an ‘all around’ routine is most effective. Always check with your primary care physician before starting a new regime.

One of the most popular online fitness coaches is Lucy Wyndham-Read. ( This British ‘qualified online personal trainer’ (she says this at least once during every workout) has several hundred videos online. Most of them are very short, 7-10 minutes long. They’re full body, low-impact, and a nice combination of cardio, strength building, and toning. Her FB page (Lucy’s Squad) is a very active page for and by her enthusiastic followers. Her YouTube channel (Lucy Windham-Read) has hundreds of videos with new workouts released almost weekly. It’s all free, although she has cookbooks, targeted programs, and personal consultations for sale.

Also highly regarded is Jenny McClendon, a licensed Physical Therapist with over two decades of experience. She has dozens of 30-minute workouts designed for active seniors. They are also low-impact. She gives good instruction on performing the movements properly. Many of the workouts are filmed in her studio, but many were shot in her house and driveway during quarantine, which somehow makes them more fun. You can subscribe to her YouTube channel (Jenny McClendon Exercise) for free. You can go a step further and join the “Jenny’s Fit Bunch” channel. That’s a subscription service with access to many videos not otherwise available. It also features live classes, live chats, and weekly personal training sessions. (FB – Jenny Fit Start) Here’s her pitch:

Another popular stretch and strengthen series airs on PBS many mornings in many locations. “Classical Stretch” by Miranda Esmonde-White is gentle and low impact with elements of Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga, and basic stretching. The emphasis is on mobility, flexibility, and balance. Some episodes are on the “Classical Stretch by Essentrics” YouTube Channel. ( At ( you can sign up for access to her complete video collection for a monthly fee. You can purchase a compilation DVD of her workouts through the PBS catalog ( (FB – Classical Stretch\Essentrics Fan Page)

The deceptively simple movements of Tai Chi are powerful agents for strengthening muscles in the legs and shoulders, improving posture and balance, and increasing suppleness. As with Yoga and other fitness regimes, there are dozens of Tai Chi videos on YouTube. Don Fiore’s You Tube channel has free videos with instructions for the most inexperienced beginner to very advanced practitioners. The 9 and 20 minute long Tai Chi for Beginners are nice of this form of exercise is new to you. The website has links to several free videos.

(FB – Tai Chi Health Products- Don Fiore) Lots of feedback from followers of his program. Also meditation and teachings from Tai Chi masters.

The Somatic Systems Institute has a series of CDs covering somatic exercises for specific body parts of groups: lower back, hands and wrists, legs and hips, knees and pelvis, jaw and neck, and ‘protruding belly.’ These are conducted by Thomas Hanna, the developer of the technique.

Dressage Rider Fitness is a 12-week program by Nicola Smith designed for riders wanting to progress with an eye toward competition in dressage. Registration opens only a few times a year. While the course is not free, she offers a free download of a booklet that gives examples of exercises and evaluating your current physical condition and challenges. (

Yoga with Adriene is a YouTube channel. There is a vast library of Yoga practices and some 30-day courses that progress from basic beginners and up. She has a 33-minute “Yoga for Equestrians” practice. It is comprehensive and do-able, although if you are out-of-shape and very stiff, it will be challenging.(

If you are more limber and fit, Joan Sladek of JSHorsemanship has several yoga videos which are demanding. (

FB group – Fit for Dressage! This is a members-only group that serves as a virtual exercise accountability buddy. Members sign-in each day (theoretically, anyway) with their activity. You must have some mention of dressage in your profile to be accepted into the group.

These books consistently appear on the top of list for professional, credible training. In addition, look for DVDs and online videos by these authors.

Fitness, Performance, and the Female Equestrian by Mary Midkiff

The Rider’s Fitness Program by Diana Robbin Dennis

The Rider’s Pain Free Back Book by James Warson, MD and Ami Hendrickson

Pilates for Equestrians: Achieving the Winning Edge with Increased Core Stability by Liza Randall

Pilates for Riders: Align your Spine and Control Your Core for a Perfect Position by Lindsay Wilcox-Reid

Yoga for Equestrians by Linda Benedik and Veronica Wirth

Equestrian Yoga: Yoga with, on, and for your horse by Danny Chapparo and Natalie DeFee Mendik

Yoga for Riders: Principles and Postures to Improve Your Horsemanship by Cathy Woods

Yoga and Riding Volume 1: Balance and Symmetry Techniques by Linda Benedik

Yoga and Riding Volume 2: Breathing and Relaxation by Lind Benedik

The techniques in these books come with a DVD or streaming link. Available through

Fitness Trackers

New trackers with new features debut almost monthly. Here is the rundown for trackers in 2021.


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