Equestrian Fitness #1 – Activate Your Seat

With the eventing season only 4 weeks away, many equestrian riders will be spending time getting their four legged athletes competition ready, but often forget about themselves.

Over the next few weeks I wanted to share some fitness tips that you could easily weave into your weekly routine which I’ve tried & tested.

First up is Activate your Seat a bungi tool from Maeve Sheridan a Chartered Physiotherapist from Edinburgh. It’s a really hand tool & exercise routine you can do anywhere from the kitchen, tack room to even at a competition.

I caught up with Maeve to get the low down on the bungi that is fast becoming riders ‘secret weapon’.

Activate Your Seat Logo
Activate Your Seat

Activate Your Seat on Social

  • Website – www.animalphysioplus.com/activate-your-seat
  • Facebook – Activate Your Seat
  • Instagram – @ActivateYourSeat
Founder Maeve (Left) & sponsored rider Louise demonstrating the bungi
Founder Maeve (Left) & sponsored event rider Louise Doherty.

What is Activate Your Seat? 

Activate Your Seat is a resistance workout designed specifically for horse riders. We use a resistance bungi and follow exercises designed by myself a Chartered Physiotherapist specialising in horse riders, to target specific muscle groups.

There are two online videos available. Level 1 (£65 & includes the bungi) contains four sets of five exercises all designed to target the muscles of the seat and build a good, solid foundation. Level 2 (£20 for the online course) contains three sets of six exercises which are a progression for the muscles of the seat and also target the core and upper body.

Founder Maeve (Left) & sponsored rider Louise.
Founder Maeve (Left) & sponsored event rider Louise Doherty demoing the Activate Your Seat bungi

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea had been floating around in my head for years!

I assess and treat a lot of riders and all their asymmetries or weaknesses in the saddle relate back to imbalances in the hips and pelvis, ie. their seat. I got increasingly frustrated by what was available online to riders as it was all so focussed on their core and completely ignored the muscles of the seat.

For me, having the foundation of a strong, supple and balanced seat is imperative to be a balanced and responsive rider. You can have the best core in the world but if it sits on a foundation of a weak or asymmetric seat it’s useless.

Sarah Chambers Amateur Eventer at Blair Castle - Testimonial
Amateur Eventer Sarah Chambers at Blair Castle – Testimonial

What are the benefits of using the bungi for riders?

The bungi is lightweight and portable and so can be used anywhere.

It fits into any doorframe and can be used at home, at work, when away travelling, down the stables or away at a competition. It provides resistance to make the exercises improve strength plus it is much harder to cheat when using it!

There are many myths surrounding the use of the core and about the hip flexors. Most riders have tight hip flexors especially the main hip flexor, psoas. But tight muscles are nearly always weak muscles and so targeting psoas strength actually improves its ability to move through range and control the pelvis and hips. Doing these exercises in the bungi are THE best way I have found to target and strengthen psoas without cheating!

Show jumper Kelly Connor - Testimonial
Professional Show jumper Kelly Connor – Testimonial

How often should riders’ practice?

I recommend doing the full level 1 video three to four times per week. This takes around 20 minutes. It’s also really useful to pre-activate before you ride, particularly if you are training or having a lesson.

Doing one or two sets of level 1 (5-10 minutes) helps to activate the correct muscles. By activating or ‘waking up’ the correct muscles for riding, you can feel straighter and more effective in the saddle. Many of my professional riders prefer to do two sets daily before they ride all their horses.

Dressage rider Liz Somerville - Testimonial
Dressage rider Liz Somerville – Testimonial

And can it really improve your riding?

Yes! As riders we need to take our own fitness and strength as seriously as that of our horses. Improving our strength and fitness off the saddle is essential to improving our performance in the saddle. The feedback from clients using the Activate Your Seat programme regularly has been phenomenal. Clients report being straighter, stronger and more effective in the saddle, as well as reducing aches and pains.

Event Rider Wills Oakden - testimonial
Professional Event Rider Wills Oakden – testimonial

Becky Wren / Country Bumpkin Chic’s thoughts on Activate Your Seat

I purchased my Activate Your Seat bungi back in September as I was lacking time to make it to exercise classes, & wanted to add some extra fitness into the mix during the end of the eventing season & help give me that extra bit of motivation.

Since using the Activate Your Seat bungi I’ve become pretty religious at fitting in a couple rounds of Level 1 before I go ride in the morning or weekend & especially before competitions.

When I have a bit more time, I’ll add in a round of Level 2 to my routine which Maeve kindly gifted me after producing some content on Activate Your Seat. I’m still following the Vimeo video with Maeve & Lou to make sure I get the moves right. I’ve certainly noticed with a mix of Pilates classes at The Breathing Space & using the bungi I’m more stable in the saddle & been able to sit a few unexpected buck-a-roos. I still need to focus on my collapsing waist/hip as making this stronger will certainly help with my canter transitions especially walk to canter.

Morning routine with the Activate Your Seat Bungi
Morning routine with the Activate Your Seat Bungi

Anyone else used Activate Your Seat? Or if you have any questions, please feel free to send me a message.


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