Lately, I have seen many social media posts about how many calories are burned for the many different aspects of owning and riding a horse. Reading those posts can be deceptive, especially if you are trying to lose weight or stay fit. While not completely untruthful, mucking stalls and thirty minutes of horseback riding spent walking, trotting, and cantering does burn a considerable number of calories, the truth, at least for me anyway, is that farm work and riding alone aren’t always enough to keep you riding fit.
Over a decade ago now I lost fifty pounds and, mainly because I am stubborn about it, I have somehow managed to keep it off in addition to maintaining a degree of fitness. I wrote an article about it in EQUUS magazine, Riding Trim, that published last year. However, in this week’s blog post I don’t aim to tell you how to lose weight. Instead, I wish to share with you how I personally stay fit now that the weight is off.
Exercise. I dedicate thirty minutes of undisturbed exercise time each day. My routine exercise time begins at 5:15am and includes both cardio and weight training. It’s early but while my family still sleeps it’s relatively quiet at my house. It’s not yet time to use my phone or my computer. The demands of the day have not yet begun to creep up on me. In addition, I’m not yet tired as I often am from a strenuous day at work.
I do well at being accountable to myself. I have found that workout DVD’s from a second-hand bookstore and some basic home gym equipment (weights, exercise bands, etc.) work best for me. You may find setting aside time to go to a gym with a friend more helpful.
I have also found integrating different types of exercise to be helpful. During the work week, I tend to stick with my DVD’s but on the weekends, I prefer to spend about forty-five minutes walking a little over two miles around our hilly neighborhood. The change of scenery is nice.
Keep riding and working. You can’t get or stay riding fit without riding. Continue to spend your regular amount of time in the saddle, more if possible. This will not only serve to increase your fitness but your horse’s fitness as well.
A quick on-line search yields several programs that you can safely employ to increase the fitness level of you and your horse. And don’t let your chores slack. I have found that continuing to do your regular chores augments a successful cardio and weight training program.
By eating right and working out you’ll soon be well on your way to improving your fitness level and you’ll no doubt see your riding improving as well.