The night farm has a really good post up. It has generated quite a lively discussion. Check it out here - I couldn't agree more completely with her article.
I want to point out that this is not how you look. This is what you actually do. So let's not get into the discussion about "I just look like a couch potato - I really am fit (I totally fall into this category!), focus on the act, not the image! (as a side note: I may resemble a couch potato more than ever after this Alabama trip....can anyone say fried catfish? and okra? and tomatoes? Must. Get. On. Treadmill. In. Fitness. Room.....)
Especially this year, I've been getting off on rides. I usually do 25% of the ride on foot - running and walking. I no longer ride during the week (mostly). Instead my horse and I go out for a 5 mile run most days. On the weekends we go on longer ride where I do 40-50% of the mileage on foot. I do not want to be the "weak" link. When I started this sport I had lots of people tell me that I was light enough that I didn't *need* to get off during the ride. I disagree. I can still maintain 6+ mph on foot in most cases and my horse is so much better for it.
And please - don't tell me how hard the ride and how "undoable" it was when I ran 25% of it on foot, yet you rode all of it and your horse is exhausted. GRRR!
That being said - there are some cases that getting off doesn't work. Minx and me were NOT compatible on the ground at all. Getting off gained nothing! She walked and trotted faster than I did and really just wanted to get down the trail without me in front of her. Farley actually ENJOYS jogging with me and so we do it often. In cases like me and Minx and other situations where rider dismount is not possible (medical and otherwise...), I still think that being as fit as possible makes a HUGE difference.