Russ & Marsha Jones, accomplished riders from Wolverine, Michigan
Stay tuned for upcoming features from:
Beth Austin, renowned physical therapist
Christina Savitsky, founder of Buckaroo Balance
Editor’s Note: Randy Rieman fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a horseman when, in his early 20’s he left the midwest and traveled to Montana. With a keen willingness to work hard and an enthusiasm for learning, he connected with many fine horseman, including Bill and Tom Dorrance in California. For the past 30 years, he has honed his craft in California, New Mexico, Hawaii, and, of course, Montana, which he now calls home. Along the way, he’s also risen to the top as a rawhide braider and a cowboy poetry reciter. He travels nationally and internationally to share what he’s learned. Check out more about Randy Rieman here.
Randy Rieman, 5’ 10”, 160 pounds
World champion bronc rider, Dan Mortenson, used to say that he does a 90-minute workout with stretching and strengthening. Without it, I remember him saying, he could never do what he does.
I’ve always been fortunate to be horseback most of my life. But with those major intrusive surgeries, I knew I had to get busy right away. I had to rehabilitate and restrengthen. I need to get to strength-building especially in the back and abdomen.
Not taking fitness seriously might work when you’re 20 or 30, but it doesn’t work so well when you’re 60. I have a 30-40 minute routine in the morning. Lots of range of motion exercises. Lots of stretching. I do abdominal exercises, pull-ups, push-ups, and other exercises.
I’ve always been a fitness nut. I like movement and I want to be able to move well. Weight becomes a real issue when gravity’s involved.
I’m not a nuts and twigs type of eater, but I try to eat quality food. No processed food.
I know big men and women who are heavy and ride, but I’m convinced they’d ride more enjoyably if they were lighter. It’s part of the responsibility [to the horse] that goes with the whole package, the trifecta of saddle fit, horse fitness, and rider fitness. Both under and on top of the saddle, fitness matters.
I just wrapped up a roping clinic here. Five guys. One gentleman was extremely heavy. Everything was so much easier for those guys and for their horses, than for the heavy guy. There were two guys who looked most fit and every morning in the arena, they did 10-15 minutes of stretching before getting horseback.
I’m certainly not a campaigner. I would never put anyone down about their weight, but if I’m running a business, I’ll make choices based on the horses’ interest. You could be a darn good hand. If you’re 40 pound heavier than the other guy who is just as skilled, then you’re not going to get that job.
If you’re really serious about your horsemanship and you’d like to seek every advantage, then you start with yourself and get yourself in reasonable shape with reasonable muscle tone and flexibility.
People are very willing to spend money to increase their knowledge, but they may advance just by being more farm fit. And that’s better for the horse.
Some sport horses and cutting horses are pretty small. When you add weight and get to moving laterally, it might not go well. You may part company and the horse will have to learn about moving your weight before he moves his weight.
Maintaining a reasonable body weight for my frame size makes my job and my horse’s job easier. If you’re not fit, you’re going to have less control of your body in an unpredictable situation.