Being “fit” doesn’t happen by accident. It is a result of daily actions that accumulate over an extended period. Now, you might be reading this thinking “yah, ok that’s great but how does that apply to me and what I do with my horse?” Well, I am so glad you asked because I am going to tell you.
You see, fitness, when applied to activities involving horses, is a beautiful thing. Horses are one of the most athletic creatures and we as humans do our best to partner with that. During the times when horses were used as a tool and a partner versus a hobby like today, it was much easier because we as the human were much more active in our day to day life. For example, 100 years ago, one would likely be doing a labor-intensive job from sun up to sun down, or be doing chores around the house all day. Whereas in today’s society we sit in a vehicle to go to the office, we then sit at the office for 8 hours at minimum, then we sit in the vehicle again on the way home, and sit some more at home for dinner and TV time. Do you notice the problem? We as humans have gone from a completely active lifestyle to a sedentary one. Not only that, if we chose to incorporate horses into our life, we are trying to mesh an extremely athletic creature with one that has been sedentary 90% of the day. This combination set’s us up for complete disaster unless we properly prepare our bodies for the strenuous activity of riding horses. By incorporating fitness into our daily routines, we can better partner with our horse.
The human body is adaptive in that it can adjust to any situation or time of stress to survive. And let’s face it, sometimes we just plum survive when we are around the horse. Like when he decides to take off on the trail. Or when he gets a little fresh in the arena. Or maybe it’s when he dives for grass when walking from the pasture. If we took 30-45 minutes, 3-4 times a week, to prepare our bodies for when we interact with our furry friends, we would be setting ourselves up for success. By implementing a strength training program paired with a proper cardio routine and nutrition plan, you are not only bettering your time with your horse, but you are increasing your own quality of life.
Fitness doesn’t have to be some stale, foreign word that makes you want to turn away from a healthier lifestyle. It simply means adding more movement and daily activity along with being more aware of dietary intake to promote a healthy lifestyle. And by promoting a healthy lifestyle that can in turn promote a healthier relationship with your horse and the time you spend with him.
What if, when you go to saddle your horse, you can gracefully swing the saddle onto his back and place it lightly on the pad without dropping with a plop? Do you think your horse would be more grateful for that consideration? What if, when picking stalls, you can do so more efficiently and therefore spend more time in the saddle where you want to be? What if, when riding down the trail and your horse stumbles, you can be confident in your own body, knowing that physically you can prevent yourself from falling off your horse? Isn’t the consideration of your horse’s health, the time you spend in the saddle, and your own safety worth it? Not only would your quality of life benefit from living a healthier lifestyle but your time with your horse would also benefit.
Don’t be afraid of what it means to become “fit”. It doesn’t mean turning into that diehard gym rat that only talks about the gym. It means changing your life, one step at a time. It means being the best version of yourself. We ask the world of our horses, isn’t it only fair we give it back to them in return?
Are you ready to ride?