Barrel Racer Personal Training - BALANCE


Sport specific training is important for ALL athletes in ALL sports. While being generally physically fit is step-one to performance for the human athlete, each sport calls for something just a bit different to develop the specific skills required to be proficient in the movements of that sport. Barrel Racing (and all other equestrian activities/disciplines) is no different. Horsemen/Horsewomen rely on a few traits more than others to excel in competition. The 3 things we’ll focus on for our sport specific training are BALANCE, CORE, and PULL. While we know general fitness and weight play a factor in anything you do on the back of a horse, improving these 3 factors of your fitness will certainly have a positive influence on your riding and ability to compete.

In this post we’ll focus on BALANCE!

Unfortunately for some, BALANCE is NOT something that comes naturally. We all have that friend who is a bit more clumsy than everyone else or seems to just not be THAT athletic. If you don’t have one, don’t look now, it MAY be you! HA! Luckily for you (or your clumsy friend), you don’t compete on your own 2 feet while on a horse, however the strength and balance in those 2 feet are still immensely important. First and foremost BALANCE IS EFFECTED BY WEIGHT. I won’t sugar coat that. Here’s the facts: The less you physically weigh (and your strength-to-weight ratio) play a BIG factor in your ability to balance on the back of horse. So being physically fit is important. The exercises I’m about to tell you about are exercises that should be done IN ADDITION to a overall full-body fitness program. Today I’ll talk about 3 exercises that you can do to improve your balance. 2 will be “isometric” exercises you can do with just your body weight. The third will require an inexpensive piece of gym equipment that you can easily obtain, the balance ball (or BOSU ball).

1. PISTOL SQUAT: The pistol squat can absolutely be used to improve strength and balance. There are levels to this exercise. This is a little more advanced exercise even at the beginner level. Level 1 would be using a chair to sit on. Level 2 would be using a rope or suspension trainer to help lower yourself. Level 3 would be unassisted (or possibly even adding weight or resistance). Check out this video for help here. Also click HERE for additional information.

2. SPEED SKATERS: This exercises focus on lateral movement and balance on the medial and lateral muscles of your legs. It seems very obvious how this will help a rider. In barrel racing, in particular, balancing in your outside stirrup is something that happens in every run. This video has different versions of the exercise that will show you how to build up this exercise as your strength increases.

3. BOSU BALL SQUATS: The Bosu Ball/Balance Ball is a GREAT piece of gym equipment for balance work. There are SO many things that can be done on BOTH sides of this apparatus. This video shows different squat variations on the Bosu Ball and gives you a visual of how you can progress with this exercise.

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