The Mind is Willing, the Body? Well, it’s Dragging its Heels these days

On the way back from a regular trip to the physio this morning I started to add up all the body bits I actively look after these days in order to stay supple in the saddle – that list it getting way too long!

Crack went my neck, my back accompanied with a crunch before my shoulder replied with a creak to the physio’s manipulation this morning. I could literally have provided the sound effects for a B-list horror movie with my body. Think doors creaking open in a dark deserted house and you get the idea. I may have hobbled in there though but I walked out at least two inches taller and ready for another round in the show-jumping ring.
I don’t know about you but at my age – the higher the fence you jump the louder the corresponding back crunch as you land. As for getting off and walking after two rounds in the ring well it takes me a least half an hour to throw off my Quasimodo impression and stand up straight again. And that’s the problem isn’t it – as we horse riders get older we realise what a beating our wonderful sport has subjected our body too. Not that we would have done anything differently – but it does have major effects on how your body ages.

Getting on a horse from the ground out hacking requires a swift check of Google Maps to seek the nearest landmark that might serve as a mounting block

To maintain my riding now requires frequent visits to the body shop for a clunk and click every trip. Things like getting on a horse from the ground out hacking requires a swift check of #googlemaps to seek the nearest landmark that might serve as a mounting block.
But I know that keeping my body as supple as I can is the way to keep being able to do my favourite sport. No matter what you do with your horses, the sad fact is that if you are middle aged you need to chuck all the physio/massage/yoga sessions at yourself as you can, if you don’t want to become sore or worse, make your horse sore because you are as #stiffasaboard

Keeping your body beautiful

  • Try pages like the fab @megparkinson_ her Equistretch page has lots of resources and stretching ideas you can watch and follow

There are loads more pages to follow that share free content just key in a hashtag like #riderphysio or #yogaforhorseriders on Instagram and have a scout around to find a trainer/practitioner that you like.

  • YogawithAdriene this fab video of hers – yogaforequestians is a really good one to follow. If you do this a few times a week it defo helps.

Another video channel that you can follow has some great vids, this one is aimed specifically at dressage riders but I still found them good to follow. Check out @dressageridertraining the first video in a series of five is here

Let’s talk about the mucking out!

Mucking out – now that is the killer for me these days. I have seven or eight horses to muck out and it hurts! Years and years of doing everything with my dominant right-hand side has left me painfully one sided now. My physio helpfully suggested I try to do some of the tasks with my left arm leading. Have you ever tried to sweep a yard with your opposite hand? Hopelessly slow and deeply inefficient, I would have sacked myself on seeing the result! Result I reverted to using my usual side and got the job done in warp-speed as usual.I get why he suggested it though, as it uses all the muscles on the opposite side of your body instead of the usual repetitive use of your strong side.

Plan B

So what I have done is to deviously re-arrange some of my horses so that they are penned in a massive shed at night if they are in. The deep bedding can be done with our tractor and it sure as hell saves my back for show jumping.So my suggestion is that if you are finding mucking out a major pain in the butt or back and can’t afford a groom then is there anything you can practically do to ease the load or the amount of mucking out you do? My paracetamol consumption has halved on my new regime and the horses are just as happy if not happier all in together with a big bale.

Stepping up

Oh, and one last tip – my other half made a couple of really tall mounting blocks around the yard and in the arena – brilliant for saving the horse’s back and mine. I had to endure days of jokes about being married to a knackered old nag – but hey ho he has a point!

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