Welcome to a new series on NF Style from the blogger and horse professional behind The Long Spot, Bryce Richardson. Carving out her own space here, she’ll chronicle her journey through the industry, on her way to competing in the international grand prix arena.

The title of this article should really be “The five things I would do every day if I had a team of grooms, no job, no classes, and all the free time in the world to stay in shape.” However, that seems a bit long winded.

Nevertheless, staying in shape should be an integral part of any rider’s training program. We keep our horses in superb condition—but what about ourselves?

It’s not a secret that strong legs and core are necessary to be successful in our sport. The stronger we are, the more control we have over our bodies. This allows us to be more effective riders. We can use our aids better and maintain proper control over our movement in the air. The less we interfere with our mounts, the better they can perform.

Here are five things I do to stay fit that anyone can incorporate into even the busiest of schedules:

1. Run

Don’t stop reading—cardio is not the end of the world. Very few people actually enjoy running, I know. I am one of those strange people that actually enjoy going for a run. If you cannot bring yourself to run, then try spinning, kickboxing, or the elliptical machine, which are all great alternatives. Cardio is key to building lean muscle and it helps keep us from passing out in the middle of those power and speed courses that just never seem to end.

2. Lift

I can see you cringing—me too, me too. I don’t mind the actual act of lifting heavy things, but I do mind the atmosphere of lifting at the gym. It is very masculine and can be intimidating. Go with a friend and hold your head high—we have every right to be there, too.

I do a lot of low weight, high repetition exercises. I focus on legs and core. It is important to incorporate arms and especially shoulders and back, as well. There are helpful machines for all these muscle groups. Or, you can go on Pinterest and find thousands of free weight work outs. I stick to a lot of machines for my legs, but then I will use the barbell for back squats and dumbbells for back and arms. Find what works for you.

3. Pilates and Yoga

I started Pilates last years and loved it. I have done yoga before and quite honestly, I get bored and don’t see the benefits as much as I do in Pilates. Find what works for you. The point of both is to not only build strength but to increase flexibility.

4. Drop Those Stirrups

I know I sound like the trainer you had when you were trying to qualify for Finals. I don’t care if you are an amateur or a top big eq rider or a pony rider—no stirrups will benefit you. It strengthens your leg in the exact way in needs to in order to be more effective. It helps your entire position and makes you a better rider. The whole point is to be as quiet as possible, not for the sake of looking pretty but for the sake of staying out of your horse’s way.

5. Eat

I am serious. As a kid on the circuit I saw so many girls who just would not eat for the sake of being skinny. Skinny is not strong and weakness is not a good color on a rider.

I struggled for years to maintain a healthy relationship with food but it really does make you a better rider when you are strong enough to keep yourself upright on your horse. I eat a lot of lean meat, mostly because the only thing I can cook is chicken with salt and pepper. Lean meet paired with steamed veggies is my go-to when I have the energy to cook. Sometimes I will throw in some pasta when I am super hungry.

I also eat a lot of Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, low-sugar granola, and wheat bread. I do not really limit anything I eat. I eat when I am hungry and I eat what I have an appetite for. That does not mean I eat gallons of ice cream, but I eat carbs when I want carbs. I have chocolate if I have a craving for chocolate. I just try to eat everything in reasonable portions.

bryce-richardsonBryce Richardson is a college student with dreams of riding in the international, grand prix ring. She grew up a trainer’s kid on the A circuit in California as a catch rider. After working for a sales barn in Europe for the summer of 2016, she gained the courage to pursue her passion of show jumping as a professional.

Bryce named her blog, The Long Spot, after her junior years, when she and her horse were infamous for taking the phrase “when in doubt, leave it out” to a new level. She could gallop her horse to a 1.10m triple bar and ask for one less stride, and he would never hesitate. Wearing glasses has since improved this habit, but Bryce remains a gutsy person, both in and out of the ring, and approaches life with a “go for it” attitude.

All photos courtesy of Bryce Richardson