A Word Of Caution

Generally I try to ride in all weathers; it helps keep the horses used to anything life throws at them plus I feel better for not having wimped out. Baz got quite used to schooling in the snow when we had a run of bad winters a few years ago.

However, strong winds are not so good with the risk of falling trees. Today therefore was a day for groundwork on the yard, followed by a brief stint with the massage pad and then some stretches for Lizzie (Baz still does stretches too, but as much to keep him happy as it is supple).

Lizzie has been a handful to say the least, and 18 months ago we actually had some help from Vanessa Bee – Intelligent Horsemanship being her field of work. She helped enormously, and I do her ‘homework’ regularly but more intensely on days I don’t ride. I learnt a lot from Vanessa about reading horses more effectively, but also about my own body language. Today was a bigger challenge than normal because it started to hail and so we had to go inside for the figure of 8 exercise we do; the stable was a little small and I had to focus very hard on being extra precise with my position and handling. We had success and on reflection I am really pleased with how well she moves through her body now with very simple instructions.

When Vanessa first came she had me totally rethinking my way of physically interacting with the horse, and I had to work so hard for it to become even vaguely automatic. It is the same when starting Pilates or any other new form of exercise; the most recent figure I read was something like 14,000 repetitions for a movement pattern to become normalised. I suspect this is rather exaggerated but you get the idea – it takes time to programme the brain and body to do the new pattern correctly without thinking.

So really I should have known better when I tried out HIIT last week. HIIT if you haven’t heard of it is High Intensity Interval Training, where you do short bursts of intense exercise. It gets the heart rate up very effectively and studies have found it to be a good method of getting fit without spending hours doing it; very useful when most free time is taken up with a small child. Anyway, I started with gusto – star jumps, running, squats, running and more star jumps. All fine at the time, and I was most pleased with myself for being able to keep the pelvic floor active all the way through the squats. But I forgot about my shoulders. I have rubbish shoulders; they are hypermobile and sit too far forward, and I have to work constantly on stability of the whole shoulder girdle complex. Therefore doing star jumps with my arms flapping up and down without thinking about stability was a recipe for disaster; the next morning I was stiff all down the left side of my neck and into my shoulder. Fortunately I know how to deal with it, but it was a good reminder that the core/stabilising muscles are forgotten at our peril!

Keep practising the multitasking and thank you for reading,