Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chubby Girls & Pilate Balls . . .

Okay, now what does any of that have to do with a horse training blog, you might ask yourself, with a scowl. No, wait, the scowl comes from me. Yesterday, I played horse. For real, outside with real horses. It's snowy and icy in this part of the world, and all I wanted was to be up on the warm, wide back of my favorite gelding while he buried his head in the round bale in the company of his fellows. On a list serv I am on, we have been discussing the judicious use of the mounting block to save ourselves and the long suffering torque-ing of our horse's spine whilst we haul ourselves aboard. To some, mounting blocks are cheating. While I firmly believe a horseperson needs to understand and be able to correctly execute a mount, I also believe it is better for my horse for me to NOT be dragging away on his spine in the process.

No way, yesterday, was I getting myself up on the bare back of that horse without some help. He's 14.3. I found a low spot, and there was still no way. Bouncing and bumping around on the side of him was okay for desensitizing, gained myself some dirty looks, but sure didn't even get anywhere close to that above mentioned goal. To a downed tree we went. There were other issues involved that complicated mounting, having to do with a sullen attitude from a sulky horse that saw no reason to end his winter vacation, but I won't go into that on this blog . . . There may be another brewing about what to do if we have too many horses to ride consistently, in today's crowded market and are bedeviled by time and space considerations. I don't have the answer to that question just yet, so that blog will have to brew . . .

Back to fat girls and pilate balls. I have been training horses most of my life. Most of that takes place Spring, Summer and Fall, as I rarely have steady access to an indoor arena. During the Season, I eat more or less okay, pretty self indulgent about ice cream, chocolate, fast food, rationalizing that saddling and riding five or six horses a day is going to burn a lot of calories. And so it does. During the Winter . . . it's about movies, sleeping . . . now working at a desk job . . . and the calorie intake rarely changes, resulting in an annual weight gain that is never quite offset by the next three seasons that follow. I have consistently put on at least three to five pounds a year that has never gone anywhere except maybe to shift from thigh to belly and back again.

This complicates horsemanship. It's very difficult to ride correctly when one's weight is out of control. This does not mean to say heavy people should not ride, by all means, DO!! I do, I encourage my husband to ride and he's really packed on some pounds, but in all fairness to the horse, there has to be a limit. For myself, as a trainer, my reflexes have slowed, it's way too easy to get off balance if a horse shifts suddenly, and I don't have the strength and the stamina I once took for granted. I am 48 years old, and some of this just comes with the territory. Some of it comes with too many trips to the fridge.

Back to fat girls and pilate balls. I am determined to not allow this trend to continue. Horses, good horsemanship and horse training are what I live, breathe and continue to get up in the morning for . . . I have never been one to really care about my silhouette, or how slick I look in my cowgirl jeans, but I very much do care that my body does what I tell it to, when I tell it to, and that I can function properly in the world in which I live. Looking good is a byproduct, although surely not the worst one I can think of. I bought a ball. Actually I bought a whole box of stuff, ball, resistance bands and the dvd without which that stuff would sit in the closet and gather dust.

Let me tell you, I don't like to work out. Tonight, balancing precariously on that damn, unruly ball, listen to the chirpy merciless bee yach on the dvd, I remember why. It hurts. I get out of breath. In a word, it sucks. I now have pain in places that I barely remember having. I also discover I am much weaker on my left side. I have a plate in my left collar bone (thanks to a horse wreck) and also broke my humerus on that side, a few years back (another horse wreck) as well as some assorted broken, bruised ribs, muscular injury, that kind of thing. Apparently, I really baby that side of myself, as the resistance band nearly undid me, attempting lat pulls, bicep stretches and curls . . . geez, I am not even fond of the terminology. Still, I have images of effortless posting, bareback starting of colts without me gracelessly tumbling off one side or another, a leaner look for the ring judge . . . None of which is possible, as far as I can tell without some large dietary adjustments, and the incorporation of this ball, that dvd, and some sweat, blood and maybe tears on my part.

So, anyway, this is 2009 for me. I am not one much for setting resolutions, finding them quickly broken and discarded, but a healthier lifestyle (much in keeping with the unfinished business blog of a couple of months ago) is non negotiable to continue doing what I love so very much at the level to which I aspire. It's going to involve baby steps, some forward, some back, but with eyes fixed firmly ahead. There are a few more changes taking place, as well, to keep my brain and soul healthy as well as my body, but that's subject for another blog down the way. My horses will thank me.

You may have noticed I did not change the photos, as I usually do, for this particular blog. Umm. Yeah. There will be NO photos of this particular journey. Not until, what? '10 . . . yeah, maybe. In the meantime, good ol' Hawkeye can stay put.