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This Equestrian Workout Will Tone Your Legs and Keep You Sane

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Welcome to Racked's Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.

Jumping a horse in an arena is called hunter/jumper in equestrian speak

There's no other workout that will give you gorgeous legs more effectively than riding and jumping horses. Even Tracy Anderson's metamorphosis can't melt away the fat in your thighs and calves the way riding can. Gripping the sides of a steed with your legs, urging the animal forward while simultaneously clinging on for dear life works some serious magic. I know, because I've been riding and jumping over the past two decades, and my tightest boots only fit if I'm riding often. And a visit to the horse shows confirms my beliefs: every professional rider has lean legs (not to mention a strong core).

But the lean figure and improved posture are only the side benefits of riding. The true reward is the mental health. Caring for a horse (let alone piloting an 1,100-pound animal around a course of jumps) is both fulfilling and grounding. As British model Edie Campbell explained to the Nowness, "[Riding] kind of gives you a sense of picking yourself up and carrying on and it makes you able to deal with failure."

The first step on the journey toward killer legs and a stronger mind is to actually learn how to ride by finding a barn and sheduling a lesson. Jan Pearce Training in Woodside (just five minutes from the 280 at the Sand Hill exit) is my personal pick for where to start. Offering privates ($680 for a package of 10) and semi-privates ($630 for 10) on well-mannered school horses, Pearce and her assistant Teri Anderson focus on a strong foundation and the absolute importance of safety before advancing to the next level. Wanting those lean legs fast? Ask Pearce to take away your stirrups for lessons (don't worry, she'll do it even if you don't ask).

There's no need to splurge on the full horsey outfit while you gain a sense of whether or not riding is for you. But it is advisable to wear thick yoga tights and ankle boots with a flat heel for your first few sessions. As you make further progress into the sport, you'll quickly find that nearby Carousel Saddlery tack shop will become your newest shopping addiction. But luckily, a pair of custom made tall boots will run you less than a pair of off-the-rack Pradas (shh, it's an equestrian world secret). And they'll look fabulous on your newly-thin gams.
· Jan Pearce Training [Official Site]
· All Esther Tested posts [Racked SF]
· All Fitness Week 2014 posts [Racked SF]

Jan Pearce Training

1545 Portola Rd, Woodside, CA 94062