I’m your classic “middle aged returning to riding” person. I learned to ride back when I was nine years old, and my family moved to Kentucky. The bug bit, and I’ve been riding off and on ever since. There were some long absences due to things like family moves (there were a lot of them), college, starting career life, pregnancy and childbirth, and when I wasn’t near a barn. But my antennae were always up. I’m fortunate that I now live just a mile from my “city barn,” and have a truck and trailer to take me on outings, including to a 4* trainer about an hour away.

After having leased several horses, I decided to take the plunge, and bought my Friesian Cross, Charlie Brown. It took nearly a year to find him. Now that we’ve been together for about three years, I feel like it’s time to put up or shut up. Granted, it’s just at Beginner Novice level eventing and (hopefully) First Level dressage, but it’s time. “Now or never” type stuff. I figure I’m Type A enough in the rest of my life, it’s time to bring some of that to my fitness, conditioning, and nutrition.

My big two biggest fitness-related challenges are: 1) that I don’t know how to exercise, and 2) that I don’t know that much about nutrition for athletes. The reason I don’t know how to exercise is because I was raised with the idea that athletics were something that kids who got poor grades did to get into college. When you think about it, that makes no sense. But that was my frame of reference as kid. And now I seek out resources to help me exercise in a way that supports my riding. The nutrition issue comes from never having to think about what I ate for years. Then around age 45, my metabolism hit a wall. Between that and having a child, I’ve put on some weight that I’d like to get rid of. To accomplish that, I’ve tried a variety of things, from practically going vegan in a very meat-oriented household to going nearly paleo, with intermittent success. But nothing is really sustainable. Now I’m trying to bring it all together, and just have it be sensible and something that I can do all the time.

A while back, I worked with a trainer for nearly two years, and saw zero results. That makes me feel strongly that not every exercise program is right for riders. So Daniel Stewart’s “specificity of sport” concept rates highly with me. The plan is to use his exercise videos to give me a road to run on.

I don’t have any physical restrictions, but I did have frozen shoulder a couple of years ago. Physical therapy took care of it, but my shoulder and neck get twingey from time to time. During this challenge, I’m using Back on Track’s Therapeutic Neck Cover to help with some of that residual stiffness.

This first week of the challenge, I’m away from home on a trip, which will involve some rich food, a lot of eating out, and limited accessibility to a gym. On the plus side, it will also involve a lot of walking, and holds the potential for me to really hit my water drinking goal. It’s definitely not an optimal way to start a fitness challenge, but I’m determined to make it work — or at least not be a disaster.

My goals for this challenge are:

  • To jump start a healthier lifestyle that supports my riding
  • To gain stamina when riding
  • To improve my balance
  • To gain strength, especially in my core

Thanks for taking the journey with me!