It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this uncoordinated on a horse.
It turns out that when you take 7 weeks off from riding, you lose a lot of strength, flexibility, and balance. I’ve been riding consistently again for the past few weeks, and compared to my pre-injury days, riding is definitely harder.
My heels won’t go down, my legs flop about at posting trot, I’m winded after one canter circle, and my balance sucks. It’s discouraging. But instead of wallowing in self-doubt, I’m doing two things.
1) Reminding myself that, like anything, you lose finesse when you’re out of practice.
Our bodies are lazy. If we don’t keep them in a regular, active routine, they revert back to weak blobs of flesh real quick. Just think about how hard it is to go back to the gym after a week-long vacation filled with fried deliciousness, carbs, fat, and booze. Naturally, if one week comes with difficulty, 7 weeks definitely will.
So, the first step to overcoming my self-doubt was a mental one. Just because I’m struggling now doesn’t mean that I am a bad rider. It doesn’t mean that I will never get back to my former level of strength. And, it does not mean that I am any less knowledgeable about horses.
2) Creating an exercise plan
Now that I’ve conquered the mental barrier, it’s time to take on the physical one. I need to get back into riding shape, and simply riding a horse a few days a week isn’t going to cut it.
Now, if you’re one of those folks sitting there thinking to yourself “the horse does all the work, that isn’t exercise” I’m gonna shut that nonsense down right now.
I’ve identified three areas to focus on: strength, balance, and flexibility. Strength is probably the one that I lost the least amount of ground on, and I expect to bolster that back up fairly quickly. I’m including cardiovascular fitness in this category. Balance should come next considering that strength is a component of balance. And finally, flexibility. I should have done more yoga during my time off…
Through my job, I have access to this wonderful physical therapy app called Physera. It gives you guided personalized workouts for whatever problem you’re working through, with the help of a licensed physical therapist on the other side of a video call. It’s what I’ve been using for my shoulder recovery, but it’s proving to be useful for general fitness as well.
The app has a huge library of exercises that I used to build out my riding strength, balance, and flexibility plan. Here’s what the 25-minute workout looks like:
Today will be my first day trying this plan out. I’ll keep you updated… 😉