Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Out Like A Lamb....

Well, I figured I'd be really rolling along right now, but I'm not.

I forgot that March also sucks in NJ. It goes from being 80 degrees, which is a problem because I didn't clip my horses and they grow coats like a yak, to 30 degrees and rain/sleet/snowing, which is a problem because I don't grow a coat like a yak. Add to that the fact that my trainer is in Florida right now and my Doctors are messing with my meds because I'm having some flares with my Crohn's and arthritis, and you've got a recipe for one Spectacularly Unmotivated Shannon. 

And to add insult to injury,  I discovered on the first 80 degree day that one of my new meds causes me to itch uncontrollably if my skin is exposed to the sun. Like, rip your skin off itching that is not relieved by cortisone, Benadryl, lidocaine, or any other topical cream and can't be controlled by oral antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, or copious amounts of tequila. I'm going to need an entire new wardrobe inspired by Dr. Moreau.

Me, this summer.

So, I have done exactly diddly squat. Well, I have gone on trail rides, which I suppose is sort of something. It's great for Jack, because he just needs miles in the saddle, but doesn't do much for getting Spider out of Third Level.

The interesting thing about blogging, though, is that I can look back at my posts from years past and see that this is actually a pattern: I'm always sick and unmotivated for the first three months of the year and I always beat myself up about it. I don't know what it is about January - March, but something definitely triggers flare-ups of my disease at that time. Probably a combination of low activity, poor diet around the holidays and my plague-rat kids bringing home every virus known to man, but I digress....

In short, I think from now on I will just take January - March off from serious riding. Instead I'll screw around and take pictures of pretty flowers and things, maybe write some funny or informative blog posts or something. I am already a master of screwing around, so this will require much less discipline and training on my part.

Much easier than riding.

I'll return to serious horse training next month. Maybe. Probably.

Oh, look! More flowers!

Now let's see if I manage to remember this epiphany next January (probably not). 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

In Like A Lion

I took the month of February completely off. To be fair, I pretty much took the months of December and January off, too, but I made a conscious decision to take the month of February completely off from riding and I think that's fundamentally different.

February in NJ is just stinking awful. It's cold and wet and windy, everything is dull and grey, and it gets dark at 5:30pm. It's barely even conducive for life, and certainly does nothing for my riding motivation. Why fight it? I could set goals and then be disappointed when I don't achieve them, or I can just say, "Screw you, February! You can't destroy my goals because I have none! Mwahahahahaha!"

So, that's what I did. And then March rolled in and I realized I was pathetically out of shape.

*Note to Self: If you take a month off of riding because the weather is bad, remember to do some friggen' cardio or something in the house so you don't end up being a doughy mess.

So, I was starting off slowly. I did trail rides at walk with Spider and Jack.  I had the kids ride Spots at the walk. We were just easing back into it all. And then my friend called me up with a problem.....

Her barn was interviewing a new trainer this weekend, but through a series of utterly improbable and completely unavoidable events, there was no one available to take a lesson with the new trainer to see how he was. She wanted to know if I could trailer in and be the guinea pig.

Being the magnanimously adventurous sort, I agreed to do it. I've got nothing to lose and no shame, plus enough pluck to tell a hack trainer to get bent, and so Spider and I loaded up and headed over.

It was an excellent kick in the pants. And the trainer was lovely, he recognized immediately that he was dealing with a seriously out-of-shape AA and her equally out-of-shape but much more enthusiastic mount.  (Seriously, he asked me a few times if I was sure Spider was 23.)

We worked on my position, because Holy Shit(!) my position was garbage. My daughter came along as my groom, and she took this picture of us just standing:

I look like a hunchback on a fat broodmare, and I think the poor trainer might be crying.

As a result, I am sitting here thinking about all the muscles that are screaming at me now and how to strengthen them so that they don't scream at me after every time I ride. As much as I want to just apply bourbon and Robaxin, I realize that's not a good long term solution. I probably need a better workout routine.

The obvious solution is to just ride more, and I'm going to do that. But, I'm also riding Thoroughbreds and they are naturally 100 times more athletic than I will ever be.

Not going to sugar coat it: I choose to ride horses that are born and bred to to be athletes. They can be left in a field for a year, and you can take them out and they'll be ready to go straight back to work. It's what they were designed for. I love them for that, their enthusiasm and heart are what draws me to the breed, but it does mean that I have to be ready to go straight back to work, too. Which means I have to do a lot more exercise off the horse.....


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