Become a better rider on the road
Hack your way to riding better one destination at a time.
Ken and I are loading up the pups to head out to go hiking in Montana. I’m super excited to be getting away, but I know I’m going to miss riding and I’m not exactly looking forward to the 20+ hours of car time each way.
I’ve been a bit of a road warrier for years so I’ve had lots of time to hack my riding skills from behind the wheel. At this point, I’ve got a whole list of little tricks that I use to ensure I don’t fall behind when I can’t fit in enough saddle time and others that I love to use while driving out to the barn so I’m focused and ready to ride when I arrive.
Riding in the car is not the same as riding a horse and there are plenty of things you just won’t be able to practice from behind the wheel. That doesn’t mean it has to be a total waste of time. Rather than just settling for getting from point A to B use these tips to hack your way to become a better rider by the time we reach your destination.
1. Listen smarter
Listen to podcasts- horse related, athletic performance, mindset, and productivity podcasts are a great way to learn while you drive. They are available on just about every smart phone and can be downloaded ahead of time so you don’t need to have great service to listen anywhere. Here are a list of some that I’ve found to be super helpful…
2. Get balanced behind the wheel
Get in the habit of sitting in balance by aligning your body with the center of your steering wheel. Square your shoulders and practice maintaining even weight on your seat bones.
3. Gain core strength
When riding as a passenger ditch the backrest for a few minutes. Tip your seat back and sit up straight without back support for one song on the radio. Use your core to stay centered. When you have it mastered try it during stop and go traffic or on a winding road. If you’re struggling with this one it might be an indicator that you’ve been using your reins and stirrups for balance and need to work on having your core muscles kick in at the first sign of instability.
4. Mark your seat
Take it to the next level with seat markers. Put tape on the seat to remind yourself to sit straight. I like to mark out spots that fall just behind my knees, down my spine, seat bones, and across my shoulders. You can also tape down a couple of coins/buttons or other small objects that you can feel through your clothes. This will help you to know if you are sitting balanced on each side. Pennies and masking tape work great.
5. Stretch it out
Shoulders and heels are problem areas for most riders. Practice rolling your shoulders in circles forward and backward while you drive to increase flexibility and range of motion. Reach back and place one arm behind the head rest feeling your shoulder blade flat against your back. Increase flexibility in your ankles by working your toes in circles- this one will help you make a lot of progress on keeping your heels down.
6. Master your seat bones
Build awareness in your seat bones by tipping your hips forward then backward switching between putting weight on the front of your pelvis to shifting weight back sitting on your pockets. After you feel like you have a good range of motion tipping forward and backward try sitting up straight so the weight sits squarely on your seat bones.
I hope you found a few gems here that can help you make the most of your road time and riding time. If you have any other ideas you want to share drop them in the comments section. I’d love to give em a try.
*Things to note
Being a good driver is the #1 priority. Focus on the road first -you can’t be a better rider if you’re dead. The more advanced stretches and core work should be done while riding shotgun.