Saturday, January 20, 2018


I started running back at the end of October with the express purpose of improving my fitness for riding.  A few knowledgeable types had mentioned my lack of endurance as something that was holding me back.  I was embarrassed that cantering my horse could get me out of breath.  So I started shuffling three times a week to work on that.  I require goals, so I entered some little races.

In my lesson on Friday, we had some good canter work.  Like really good.  Like not booting, not praying, focusing on balance rather than survival canter work on BOTH leads.  And when we were done?  I wasn't breathing hard.  I could have cantered for another five minutes.  I didn't get frantic or desperate as we cantered, I just kept riding.  Well gee, I may have found a root cause for some of our canter issues.  It was my chubby, out of shape butt getting tired and not being able to hold it together.

January 1st race, 0*

Today I had my second clinic with the western dressage trainer.  I am looking at doing a couple of recognized shows this year and found out that there will be a New England regional championship in August right around the corner from me.  Exciting!  I don't even have to qualify since the discipline is so new in my area that they . . . don't have a qualification system yet.  It'll be a nice goal since I don't have to chase points or travel far.  Just go to a one day show.

Theo was up on his toes at our clinic and being a dork about sounds outside of the indoor.  Tractors zooming by, leaf blowers in use, random wheel barrows popping up at doors.  We had a couple of snorts and attempted spins.  One half rear/pirouette/attempted bolt combo that made the clinician gasp since she didn't know he had that in him.  It was good practice for us to work through him being distracted and looking for a reason to spook.  Note to self, don't drop your inside hand when he's threatening to spin off the wall and bolt.  It's just inviting him to slam out that shoulder.

We also got to show off.  She asked how far along we were in standard dressage.  I did leg yield, shoulder in, haunches in, simple changes through the walk, reinback, turn on the haunches.  Theo was being a pain, but a very fancy pain and I got a couple of 'wow!' comments when he stepped into the shoulder in at the trot with his butt tucked and light in my hands.  Then he tried to spin off the wall, but we won't mention that part.  My horse is very talented, but also very smart.  Smart horses are a curse.  He may be the smartest horse I've ever worked with and that is saying a hell of a lot.

At the end of a rather intense 60 minute lesson, I wasn't out of breath.  Theo was puffing harder than me, as it should be when he's hauling my butt around.

Jan 16th race, 5*

I had no trouble keeping him going.  I got complimented on my quieter leg.  Some of that is mi papi thinking he's a stallion and showing off, some of it is my improved endurance.  It doesn't strain me to ride for an hour.  My muscles get sore, sure, I'm still working hard up there.  The difference is that my body is used to hard work and can cope.  It's more efficient.  My heart rate doesn't spike into crazy numbers.

I'm still not a fan of running.  It's dumb, especially when nothing is chasing me.  But there is a lot of booze involved in running events.

Post race beer with frozen bits on top

I get a beer after every race (free!) and my local running club goes out for margaritas after meet ups.  They give us happy hour prices, so it's cheap margaritas and nachos.  There's a whole party after my Mardi Gras 5k!  So at least there's a bit of motivation, but it's pretty crap motivation when I'm standing outside in single digits and looking at a 3 mile run.  There was ice in my beer because it was so cold at my last race, aptly named the Snowflake Shuffle, that the kegs started to ice over when set on the ground.  Yes, I did shuffle.  I am setting no speed records.  The pictures are misleading.  They're from the finish line and I can see my beer.  It's the fastest I move ever.

But my goal is to be a better partner for Theo and that appears to be happening.  He spooks and spins and acts a fool and I'm more comfortable because I'm fitter.  I can canter him for ten minutes straight without losing my balance and focus.  I can be a human lunge line.  I can outlast him.  I can keep organized and not feel desperate for oxygen.  People are starting to notice.  Trainer A was very happy with my performance in my last lesson.  Not only have I started to settle into my western tack, I can ride with intensity through my entire lesson. 

All of this good stuff doesn't change the fact I have to get up at 6am tomorrow for a group run and I'm not happy.  Sooooo not happy.  Why do all of my hobbies make my legs tired and require me to get up early?!


  1. Virtual high five! I've been following you and Theo for a while, and you never fail to impress with your goal setting and drive. Congrats :D

  2. I'm definitely attacking the fitness angle for myself this year and while it's not my favorite, I enjoy feeling less blobby and more persony.

  3. Working out regularly did so much to improve my riding (and well being!)