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.....


  1. Remember when you could take time off and your body would just bounce right back? Now it seems that I need every week off requires two or more to get back in shape.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find the Zumba worked a lot of the muscles that I need for riding- it's how I keep in shape over the winter months. :)

  2. Haha! Been there! I run to keep up with my horse...

  3. I feel your pain. It's not as easy to stay in shape anymore.

  4. "Enough pluck to tell a hack trainer to get bent." ... And this is why we love you.

  5. I have one of those plastic barrels set outside by the barn so I can sit on it to stretch my riding muscles--sadly neglected and wrongly redeveloped after my last hip surgery. Need to sit on it a lot. Swimming will help too--have access to an indoor pool--and I do stretching in the water too. With March warming up, I'm in the same situation as you are, so I really do understand. Fortunately I have nice sweet warmblood to leg me up before I straddle the opinionated TB. Sending you encouragement!

  6. LOL!! You described Thoroughbreds perfectly. I swear they get fit just standing there. I'm kind of envious, because my horse is a fat slug just like me LOL! This post had me cracking up because I've basically taken the whole winter off. I just can't deal with winter. I'll come out of hibernation when the sun comes back. ;)

  7. Oh man, I can hardly take a week off riding without feeling like jello. A whole month would be TOUGH


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