Fitness Motivation

Have you ever needed some motivation to maintain your fitness program?    The mainstream public may not understand how physically demanding it can be to own and ride horses.  But those of us who ride regularly are well aware of the weight of a square bale of hay; or how strong a 1200 + lb horse can be; or a 50lb saddle that you need to lift onto your horses back that is over 5 feet tall!

Even though just looking after your horse on a day-to-day basis can be physically challenging it may not be enough to keep you in top form.  Last week, I found the motivation I was looking for.  I hired a personal trainer.  I met with her to discuss my goals which include the usual loose weight but I also want to be able to develop my lower leg strength an area where I am very week.   She asked some important questions such as how much time was I going to commit to this (for me it is lunch hours only), how frequently did I want to change my program, what types of activities did I really enjoy or really dislike.  She took my measurements and weight and we talked about my goals.    We decided that I would try to do my weight program 2 times per week and cardio the other 3 days per week. Then off she went to design my program.

We met the next day and she outlined the program she designed for me and put me through my paces.  The program had a good variety of weights and cardio mixed in it and I was able to stretch and be out of the gym within my lunch hour.  As I sit here writing 3 days later, I am still very sore.  I am participating in a jump clinic this weekend too which is likely a contributing factor.  I haven’t seen any improvement in my performance after one session but hopefully by the time summer roles around I will be reporting about my new successes!

I’ll keep you posted about my progress but I would recommend trying a trainer to get motivated.  Some tips on finding the right trainer: always make sure s/he is certified through a recognized body such as your provincial fitness association. In British Columbia where I live there is an organization called the British Columbia Parks and Recreation Association that trains and certifies trainers.  There are other respected organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association or the American Council on Exercise.

Be sure to ask for references and talk with other clients.  Find a trainer who understands your goals, time constraints and financial limitations.  She will only be successful as a trainer if she can figure how you can reach your goals.

I would suggest giving it a try.  If you have tips and suggestions please share them with me.

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Barrel Practice

Juice has not been very good the past few days.  He  has more get up and go than I am use to.  So barrel practice has come and gone.  He was not good.  He thinks he is a barrel horse, cutting those corners… even at a trot!   I just wanted him to have the experience and work on bending.  Next on the list of experiences I am working on for him is sorting….. life is journey!  Not sure if I will stay in the saddle but it’s no fun sitting in the house

I would love to hear about some of the new adventures you have planned for you and your horse this year.

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Yoga – It Really Does Help Your Riding

I want to draw your attention to a 21-day challenge that Yogajournal.com is running.   It is 21 days of free yoga classes.  There is a variety of instructors that talk you through the class while a student demos the class.  I have to warn you, day one is a very challenging but day two is light and wonderful.  It was the prefect thing for me to stretch out and relax my sore muscles from day one.  This is a nice way to try and develop a regular yoga routine.

Check it out – I bet if you make the commitment to complete this 21-day program you will feel taller and stronger in your saddle.  I’ll keep you posted on how it helps me.

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Successful 1st Jumping Clinic with Hyh Got Juice

I spent the last two days at the barn participating in a jumping clinic and it was so much fun.  I took my green 4-year old Hyh Got Juice aka “Juice” and performed wonderfully!  I think he is a natural born athlete.  That leads into me. Oh am I ever sore.  After the first day of the clinic, I woke up in the middle of the night with a severe cramp in my adductor muscles.   Who knew jumping was so physical.

Today I am sore all over my. My back, my adductors, my shoulders.  It just emphasizes that riders really need to train just to participate in the sport never mind be competitive if that is ones goal.

I am just completing my weight training certification. As part of the course, I am required to design weight training programs for two individuals. I am going design these programs specifically for friends who ride.  I am very excited.  The evaluation process is rigorous though.  I have been reading lots of material on exercise for people who ride.  I was surprised at the amount of literature available.  Check your local library.  Your local Equine Sport Organization or National Sport Organization likely sells books too.  The Horse Council of BC (www.hcbc.ca) has a very good book section.

Happy Reading!

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My Annual December Post

Ok so I am not a very good blogger…. my last post was a year ago. OMG!!!  Where have I been?

I made huge progress this past year with Juice my 4 year old.  We worked out the trust issue, the trailer loading issue but I have to admit he is still resistant to being caught.  He is better but it still takes some time.  He is pretty good about being tied too.  I would say overall we bonded!

I took him in a Glenn Stewart clinic this summer (www.thehorseranch.com) .  It was one of the best things for me and Juice.  I also connected with a good friend Cleo. She is incredibly generous and I got a lot of saddle time in with her and many, many of her friends over the summer.  This winter I decided to board him at a local public barn which has proven to be a lot of work but allows me to get some riding time in every week.

I wish I could say the fitness program was going as good as my relationship with Juice.  I did get registered as a fitness knowledge leader and I am just about done with my weight training course.  I hope to submit my final assignment by the end of next week and then 20 hours of practical experience.  My goal is to be complete by the end of January.  So, not where I wanted to be but at least I have met some of my personal goals for 2010.

That leads me to my goals for 2011.  I have been thinking about that for the past several weeks.  So world… here is my plan for  2011 (in no particular order).

  • Get my Yoga Certification
  • I have already applied to be admitted to the BC Provincial Instructor Diploma program so that I can become a better/more effective instructor. So I would like to complete 2 of the 6 courses (maybe 3 if I really push myself) required to complete the diploma
  • Participate in at least one local horse show
  • Do one weekend (or longer) ride into the mountains — maybe Christina Falls or back into Nevis Creek.
  • Lose 30 pounds (the most challenging goal of all).  Really I would like to just be healthier.
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Cleanse?

OK I am going to come clean (no pun intended).  I have tried several times to do a cleanse in the past.  So many of my freinds who believe in alternative therapies and a natural diet rave about the benefits of a good seasonal cleanse.  Is it just a fad? Maybe.  Anyway, I thought about giving it a whirl again.  Since I am on this path to become a more fit rider, part of that starts with feeling better and healthier.

On another note, yesterday I was able to get into the gym for my extra weekly cardio session I committed to earlier. I chose to do a 30 minute session on the rowing machine.  I know the rowing machine is not the most popular piece of cradio equipment in the gym but talk about a good workout for not only my heart, but my abs and back as well (good core exercise).  I use to row in University so maybe it is more nostalgia that has me trying it out again.  In addition to a good workout, Concept II has an awesome online motivational tracking program.  You can compare yourself to others all over the world.  It has great training programs, talk with others to get tips, etc.  Check out the website at www.concept2.com.

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Yoga

This morning I spent some time doing yoga.  I haven’t done yoga for quite some time now and found I was stiff, my joints closed and inflexible (is that a word?) but oh I feel so good now.  While I was doing my yoga poses, I noticed while attempting a modified version of the side angle pose, that my left side was far more flexible than my  right side.  When I moved from downhill skier to the downhill skier twist, my left side again was more flexible than my right.  In downward dog though, I could feel how tight my left hip was.  I am sure this is a result of the break of my left ankle.  It was good notice all these little nuisances in my body.  Now I can start to address some of these problems.

Yesterday I talked about the components of human fitness and how I believe I should be able to apply those same components to conditioning my horses.   Yoga is great for flexibility which is so important as a rider for simple things like getting on and off your horse without a mounting block, safety factors such as being able to duck under low branches when you are trail riding, etc.    Yoga is also good for developing muscle strength which is important again for getting up on your horse from the ground, providing balance while in the saddle by developing your core muscle group (abdominals and back) and moving equipment around the barn.  Finally, yoga really helps to relax the mind, alleviate stress, and put you  in a good mood.

Today I identified success factors — that will help me determine if I am successful in this journey.

Today I am heading to the barn to audit day one of a 3 day clinic from a local clinician who is especially good with young children and new riders – more about making contacts than taking in the clinic but I am sure I will learn something too!   Still want to get in a short cardio workout, maybe on my bike.

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Gymkhana Today!

Today I took my boyfriend’s daughter to a gymkhana.  When I got to the arena a friend asked if I would like to participate using one of her horses.  I couldn’t resist.  It was so much fun.  The horse, Ritzy, was an 11 year old sorrel quarter horse mare who was well broke. It was terrific and my ankle didn’t even hurt!

There were people there who were new to gymkhana, new to horses, experienced horse people with inexperienced horses and people from the age of 6 to 60+.  It made me realize how much I have missed riding regularly this past year.

I have had 3 (so far) wonderful days off from work allowing me to catch up on a number of things including my reading.  I believe in natural horsemanship and have been reading as much information as I can find considering I am soon to have my 3 year old horse back from the trainer. One thing struck me today after being at the gymkhana all day and the short intense reading I have been doing all weekend, I realized there is not much attention paid to, or information available on horse fitness and conditioning in the popular media.

I guess this helped solidified my direction in bringing my personal fitness and my horse’s fitness together.  I think I know quite a bit about human fitness.  I have an educational and applied background in fitness and kinesiology.  I have a lot to learn about horse fitness but I hope I can apply many of the same principles to developing a horse’s fitness.  The building blocks for human fitness development are made up of cardiovascular, strength, muscular endurance and flexibility.

Tomorrow – back to the gym to start my new weight training program.  I also have considerable work to do on my cardiovascular system.  Up to this point I have been meeting a workout buddy two times per week to do weights.  I have not paid too much attention to my cardiovascular system (and my waist can attest to that) so I think it is time.  I like the rowing machine, and the elliptical trainer and manage an indoor aquatic center.  Therefore I think my goal is to add a 3rd workout in each week which is strictly a cardio workout.  It will mean going to workout before I start work and getting up 1/2 hour earlier so I can have my barn chores done first.

When I was younger, my motivation to loose weight (because I have always been a big girl but athletic) was too look physically better.  Today, my motivation is to be a better rider.  What a difference in how I attack this simply because I want to be a better athlete.  It feels easier.  I was a fitness instructor for many years but when I moved from the east coast to British Columbia, I let all my certifications lapse.  In 2008 I challenged my fitness theory and in 2010 I will get my group fitness and yoga certifications.  I am also in the process of trying to bring a pilates instructor up north to teach a level 1 & level 2 mat class.  Once I get those classes under my belt, look out horse world!  These are things I know I can do.

Now for the unknown, I have to find out where to learn more about horse conditioning.  I think I will start my research tomorrow.

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Beautiful Winter Day – Horses & Fitness!

The day was spectacular.  The sun was shining and it was up to -2 C.  Today I was able to do fitness and horses all in the same day.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

I went for a short cross country ski around the property.  This was my first time out this year.  It felt wonderful.  Juno and Molly, my two dogs joined me.  I probably only did about 3k but that was enough for my weak ankle.

While I was out by the horse pasture, I was able to get some outstanding photos of my young warmblood Ryker.  He was galloping around with his head up and tail up.  He looked stunning against the white snow.

I decided to take Rocket out for a quick ride and pony Ryker with me.  Rocket is a 13 year old standardbred.  We adopted him from a rescue that tries to find permanent homes for horses that were once used on the track (greener-pastures.ca).  He is a sweet horse but has not had much training.  He is a bit skitish so it was a chore to have Ryker, a complete left-brain extrovert, and Rocket trucking down the road.  We did a very brief outing because this was the first time Ryker had ever been ponied and the first time Rocket had ever ponied another horse.

The first adventure was the dogs at a neighbors house.   Ryker doesn’t like dogs and he just wanted to stomp on the one out at the road.  After several circles, I was able to get past the dogs just in time for the horses to have a fit when a cow started running in the pasture adjacent to the road.  Yes…… until today, my horses had never seen cows up close and personal.   Don’t get me wrong, they listen to them everyday, all day long during the summer.  An entire herd resides just across the street.  However, the cows are nestled in a big open field with a nice line of trees that runs along the roadway.  So yes, the horses hear the cows all day long, but have never see them.

With a little coaxing, I was able to get past the cow.  They were a bit unsure on the way back because the one black cow had now multiplied into 4 or 5 cows.  Ryker gave a few snorts, raised his head and tail and then walked on.  I made it back home without any real problems.

It was a beautiful winter day!

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Hello world!

Today is day 1 of my new blog.  I thought I would get a jump start on my New Year’s resolution — get me and my horse more fit in 2010.

Actually, I am sort of between horses.  2009 was a tough animal year.  I had to put my riding horse down early in the year.  The vet’s couldn’t really determine what was wrong with him.  One vet thought he slipped and broke his pelvis, another vet thought he had  some sort of nerve damage.  After 6 weeks of stall rest and no improvement, I made the difficult decision to have him put down.

That left me with a young 2 year old Warmblood that still wasn’t nearly developed enough to start.  So I bought a 3 year solid color paint that wasn’t started either but was ready to be started.  I did the necessary ground work but on the very first time I tried to mount up, he bucked me off.   I came down on my foot and broke it in two places.

I am mostly healed now.  My horse is at a trainer’s getting broke and will be back soon.  Therefore, I figured I better get myself back in shape so when he does come back, I am ready to go.

I’ve been doing a weight program I love but it is not specifically to improve my riding. Therefore, beginning in the New Year, I thought I would change it up a bit and tailor my program to suit my riding needs.  If anyone reads this, please feel free to recommend websites and/or books.

I will keep you posted with my progress and Juice’s progress.

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