A true horseman will only ask athletic feats of his horse if he has his own body under control.
– From The Principals of Riding/German National Equestrian Federation
Clients often come to me asking why they get winded when they ride. Even though they do “cardio” on a regular basis, and are in good shape, they still seem to lose their breath.
Being winded doesn’t necessarily have to do with your fitness level.
Finding a rhythm to your breathing is incredibly helpful when riding. Many people tend to hold their breath when they’re concentrating or are nervous. The other thing that happens to people while exercising or riding is that they tend to breath quickly and in a shallow way, not allowing them to exhale completely. This leaves you with the feeling that your lungs are full and that you can’t catch your breath.
If you think of your lungs as large mason jars that fill up with oxygen then push the byproduct, C02, back out, you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of what happens when you breath. When your breathing is shallow and you don’t fully exhale the C02, which is heavier than oxygen, it falls to the bottom of your lungs. This blocks your ability to take a deep, full breath. The longer it continues the worse the feeling gets and the more “out of breath” you are.
Try focusing on exhaling to the rhythm of your own footsteps as you walk or run, and then try it in timing with your horse’s gait. Something like exhaling every stride of the canter or every time you post up. As you focus on exhaling you will get that “heavy” C02 out of your lungs and make room for a nice full breath in. Along with keeping your wind, this will do wonders to help you stay relaxed and in sync with your horse, which I’m pretty sure is the goal for all of us who get in the saddle every day.
If you’d like more personalized help, I offer virtual training to riders everywhere so I’d love to hear from you!