Equipment Essentials for the Female Equestrian
by Emily Beasley
I’m the type of person that relies on lists, especially when it comes to preparing for an outing with my horses. I have a checklist of essentials to pack in the trailer for the ride. For example, my first aid kit is first on the list, and inside that kit there is another list of what should be inside. Since eventers compete in three separate phases I have a checklist of what equipment, tack and attire my horse and I need for each event. When I ride two horses those lists are doubled! What a hassle, right? Absolutely not. If you’re like me you love to buy more tack and equipment and will find any excuse to do so. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of my top three “tack” essentials for an at-home fitness program for women, as well as alternatives that may provide an excuse to shop your favorite tack store.
- Appropriate Attire
One way to kick-start your motivation to exercise is to invest in comfortable athletic clothing that you feel good wearing. Chances are shoes that cause blisters, uncomfortable pants that are too tight, and an oversized t-shirt with holes and stains won’t inspire you to do much more than sit on the sofa. Not to mention the fact that you won’t be planning to go outdoors because of the risk of being seen by another human. Luckily, an equestrian’s wardrobe is already considered athletic attire so take this opportunity to invest in your workout wardrobe. Here are my top two essentials.
A good sports bra that FITS: Don’t compromise here; this is one item to splurge on. It’s even better if you can go to a specialty store and get measured by an expert. I recommend material that is breathable and won’t rub or irritate your skin.
Schooling tights: Even if you love denim, trust me on this one. I have a couple of pairs of lightweight, sweat-wicking, and breathable tights that are absolutely amazing. They are easy to move in, comfortable and great to ride in (seamless).
- Yoga Mat
A good quality yoga mat is an absolute must for any fitness program. You can buy an inexpensive one online or at any local department store. If you use your mat as much as I do it will eventually pay off to purchase a higher end version. No mats handy? Break out a couple of saddle pads (preferably clean) until you get one.
- Free Weights
One of the best all-purpose pieces of equipment to have is a couple of hand weights. I recommend 5 lb weights to begin. Once you can add to your fitness tack trunk go for the 3lb and 10lb weights next. In the meantime, you can perform bicep curls with a jug of liniment (for sore muscles later), do dead lifts with your saddle (ask my clients- it works!), or even do upright rows with a bale of hay. Salt blocks also make great, inexpensive hand weights. If all else fails, fill up a couple of buckets and get to work.
You won’t go wrong with these three tack essentials for an at-home fitness program. Plus, you’ll still keep your budget intact (unless you need an excuse for a shopping trip). These are my all-time favorites, and alternatives, for the times I find myself in a pinch. Take a look around your own tack room and see what fitness “tack” you can find. I’d love to hear your ideas when you do!
Emily is the owner of ATF Wellness and the creator of Bootcamp4Breeches: Functional Fitness for Equestrians. She coordinates the Health & Physical Education teacher education program at Louisiana State University, is past president of the Louisiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, teaches Yoga classes, and researches how women of all ages can develop a positive physical self-concept. She spends her free time eventing with her OTTB, Titan, and TB/Cleveland Bay cross, Bean, in Baker, LA where she and her husband share a small farm with four dogs, three cats, and three horses. You can reach her via email at email@example.com; follow her on Twitter @DrBLovesPE; or like her Facebook page, Bootcamp4Breeches: Fitness Training and Wellness Consulting.