Boost Rider Well-being & Performance⁠ When it’s Too Cold to Ride

Julie Goodnight Talks with Equestrian Fitness & Wellness Coach, Ifa Simmonds

Julie Goodnight invites equestrian fitness and wellness coach, Ifa Simmonds, to talk about fitness specific to riders, and the importance of the rider’s overall well-being and confidence⁠—regardless of level, discipline, or whether or not they compete⁠—in the latest episode of the Ride On with Julie Goodnight podcast.

“I’m a big fan of fitness and exercise, especially how it relates to riding skills and improving our health and well-being,” says Goodnight. “I met Ifa at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. He has a real ability to connect with people, and he makes things fun and understandable. So I jumped up at the end of his presentation, and invited him to be on the podcast.”

In a candid discussion, Simmonds sheds light on the unique fitness demands of equestrian sports and the need to address it holistically.

“I feel that most people are not talking about the wellness aspect of fitness,” says Simmonds. “They often focus on calisthenics and aerobics, but I believe that there’s more to it than that. I focus on teaching riders how to connect to their core, and understand their body awareness. I’ve found that this is where the biggest benefit comes from.”

Simmonds’ program is based on four pillars: stability, suppleness, strength, and stamina. In the episode, he explains what they mean in-depth and why they’re important for riders.

“They are literally the guiding light that’s necessary to get where we want to go as riders, no matter the level,” says Simmonds. “We all need every single one of these pillars. The four pillars are essential for any of our journeys⁠—as humans first, and riders second⁠—and they have to go in that order.”

Simmonds emphasizes simple ways for riders to get started⁠—a decidedly big obstacle for many.

“What I’ve heard riders say is, ‘I don’t have time to exercise,’” says Simmonds. “There always has to be a way to incorporate it into what we’re already doing. … I always say to start with bite-sized chews of something.”

Goodnight and Simmonds also discuss the importance of biomechanics, training, and the rider’s mindset, and how they’re all tied together. Simmonds also shares some surprisingly practical nutrition tips and simple exercises that listeners can implement immediately⁠—even when winter weather keeps them indoors and out of the saddle.

Listen to this episode and subscribe to Ride On with Julie Goodnight at, or on any podcast app.

Find out more about Ifa Simmonds and his work at

About Ride On with Julie Goodnight
The 2022 EQUUS Film & Arts Festival “Winnie” Award-winning podcast, Ride On with Julie Goodnight, gives listeners an informed, entertaining perspective on horse training, equestrian sports and having a greater connection with your horse. With over 250,000 downloads and more than 70 episodes to date, the podcast continues to grow in popularity with horse enthusiasts worldwide. Each episode inspires, informs and motivates listeners to achieve new heights in their horsemanship–no matter their level. In the What the Hay? Q&A segment of each episode, Goodnight answers listener-submitted questions with candor, humor and practical advice based on her lifetime of experience with horses.

About Julie Goodnight
Goodnight is the popular host and producer of Horse Master, a successful how-to TV series on handling, riding, and training horses. Goodnight travels extensively sharing her no-nonsense horsemanship with riders of all disciplines. Goodnight is experienced with many kinds of riding—she grew up on the hunter-jumper circuits in Florida and is now at home in the West. She and her husband, Rich Moorhead, live in the mountains near Salida, Colorado, where they enjoy riding the trails and training cow-horses. Explore Goodnight’s training library of articles, videos and more at

About Ifa Simmonds
Simmonds is a certified fitness performance coach for equestrians with over a decade of experience and creator of The Equestrian Fitness Academy (EFA). He empowers riders through holistic fitness and wellness programs to enhance their performance in the saddle. His primary goal is helping riders improve their riding fitness with greater stability, suppleness, strength, and stamina in the saddle. He’s trained a host of disciplines, from trail riders to competitive professional dressage, eventing, western pleasure, reining, hunter/jumper riders, and their riding coaches. Ifa brings his expertise in functional fitness, yoga, and pilates to EFA through education and certifications. He is a clinician, writer, and presenter, working with different organizations and featured on multiple podcasts. EFA is the leading holistic fitness coaching program for equestrians in English and western disciplines dedicated to enhancing balance, position, and athleticism.

Megan Fischer

High Res Photos: