It’s a widely known fact that practicing any sport that differs from your regular routine can leave you with sore muscles, and as avid equestrians, we know horseback riding requires a unique set of muscles. Non- riders, like your nonhorsey friends who take the odd trail ride while on vacation, can attest to having sore legs and a tender seat afterwards.
But as active horse enthusiasts who do more than just ride, we know there are some barn chores that require muscle groups we don’t necessarily use when we ride. Perhaps the chore is moving a hay bale or a sack of grain, or maybe it’s spending hours in the stance of a baseball catcher while painstakingly wrapping a horse’s legs.
There’s also the ultimate barn chore: mucking out a stall. For me, this is what causes me the most discomfort. Since I lesson and don’t own a horse, I don’t muck out a stall every day. In fact, when I do muck out two to three stalls in one day, chances are my hands are close to a blister here or there, and my back and shoulders are super tight. If you do clean many stalls every day, that repetitive motion or overuse of your dominant side for scooping and lifting can lead to chronic aches and pains unless you make a point to properly train your muscles.
I asked my friend Brittney Light, certified personal trainer, to suggest some strength training exercises that will help me work the muscles I use when I muck out a stall. I call it my ‘Muck Out Workout’. Next time you can schedule some time for a workout at the gym or at home, give these three exercises a try!
The deadlift is an excellent exercise that focuses on the lower back.
“The deadlift is an exercise that is important for people of all ages and all levels of athletic ability,” explains Light. “Without a strong lower back, we can wreak havoc on all our muscles which can lead to chronic pain. Think of the lower back as the base of a tree. Without a strong base the tree will fall.”
The repeated bending motion we make when we move a very full shovel from the floor of a stall to the wheelbarrow can cause stress on the lower back, so this is a great move to try. In this video, Brittney guides you through the steps to ensure you do this exercise safely and effectively.
Ring pull-ups are a great exercise that works the upper back muscles that you use when you shovel shavings or manure. Brittney really likes this exercise for all athletes, including beginners. You can modify this exercise based on the angle you create between your body and the floor.
This exercise focuses on the upper back and upper lat muscles we use when we shovel a stall. The exercise doesn’t require much equipment – you simply use a band to imitate a row machine. Brittney talks you through this movement in the video below.
Whether you muck out a stall every day or once every two months, give some of these exercises a trial run. Hopefully they’ll help you feel stronger, more balanced, and best of all, less sore.