… is good for the gander, right? Or what’s good for the horse is good for the rider. I’m talking about fitness today. We expect our horses to not be too fat, not be too thin, not be unfit and to have the stamina to cart us around for as long as we wish. Early in the year I realized how unfair this is to my horses when I haven’t been willing to do my part to be the rider they need me to be so that they can actually do the job I’m asking them to do. As owners, we plan out our horses’ diets as if they were all Olympic-caliber equines who need the best of the best. If only we’d pay as much attention to our own diets. We also carefully plan out a conditioning routine to be sure that they are ready to do the job we hoist upon them. Then we go home, open a bag of tortilla chips and jar of salsa and sit on the couch to spend the evening watching television because we just had such a strenuous ride and who feels like working out?
Let me tell you, the reality check hits hard when you step on the scale after a few months (or years) of this routine. After the first of the year, I had to face this scary reckoning and step on the scale carefully, putting my weight on the outside edges of my feet in the hopes that that makes the scale read less. It doesn’t. Needless to say I was not happy with the number that flashed mockingly at me in bright red digital numbers. I vowed that 2020 was going to be my year, so that was going to include getting in shape.
Because of a previous bad stress fracture of the tibia, jogging was out. I enjoy power walking, and I look forward to nicer weather so I can get out on the greenway path with my husband, Jerry, and our Belgian Malinois, Zukey. For now it looks like I will be stuck in the gym for my cardio. However, I’ve been wanting to do some rider-specific exercises, especially core workouts, for some time. After doing a bit of research, I decided to try the Debbie Rodriguez series, Success in the Saddle. These workouts really help work your core and hip flexors, and everything in between — and they kicked my butt for quite a while.
When I first started doing these routines, I had a lesson scheduled after two days of leg work. My quads were screaming, but since I don’t get a lesson very often due to my trainer usually being at the shows, I jumped at the chance. Oh my God, I was dying. I actually had to fess up and take a few breaks because my legs were so sore that I couldn’t post or jump. I felt like such a wimp. Here I am exercising specifically to be a stronger, better rider, and, well, I couldn’t ride! Where is the justice in that?
After doing these five to six days a week for about six weeks, I’m finally able to get through the entire day’s workout without cussing at the screen or flopping around like a landed fish. Well, mostly I get through it — I have to alter a few of the exercises due to my tailbone issue, but I am feeling stronger, and I am hoping I start to notice a difference in the saddle as well. I hope the horses appreciate it.
I’ve lost ten pounds so far mostly by eating clean, and I am hoping that by time summer gets here I will have more strength to be able to ride more effectively and jump without landing in a heap. I hope I become the rider my horses deserve.