I’ve always thought one of the side benefits of being a horsewoman, besides the obvious delight of spending time with horses, was how riding keeps a person in pretty good shape. Almost three years ago now I was put on bed rest with a twin pregnancy and I figured no problem, after all those years of riding getting back into shape should easy.
What I failed to consider was that while I was in bed, coincidentally writing my first novel, I wasn’t working those muscles I’d used all those years riding. Having twin toddlers doesn’t leave much time for riding either, so I came up with the bright idea of working out with a trainer early in the morning before my husband left for work.
Well, this morning I heroically left the house before seven to meet my trainer. I heaved my way through an assortment of sit ups. Okay, this hurt, but any woman who has had children knows there is no way around some sit ups. We proceeded to some exercises for my legs, which went well if you ignore the fact that I almost fell over a couple of times. Yeah, I told myself. All those years of riding—the muscles were still there!
We then proceeded to work my arms. My trainer had always told me if I was riding correctly I would be using my hand, legs, and seat. Never my arms. Still, I figured, I lifted tack, bales of hay, etc., so it shouldn’t be too bad. The trainer, admittedly a former body builder, demonstrated the equipment and pulled the handles of the machine forward and back a few times. I cheerfully sat down and gave a pull but the handles were locked in place. I was ready to ask him how to unlock the machine when he said ‘Come on, Mary, you can do it.” I gritted my teeth, yanked, and the handles feebly wobbled forward. I repeated this exercise, more or less, a whopping forty five times.
Staggering home afterward, I collapsed on the sofa to be greeted by my son who leaped on me and shouted “Mommy, wake up!” My eyes had been open, so it must have been my total lack of animation that confused him. Undaunted, he bounced on my lap, threw his arms in the air and cheered “One, two, three, Hurray!”
I’m not sure what he was cheering about. Maybe it was the fact that I managed to shift my arms enough to indicate I was still capable of movement. Personally, I considered this quite an accomplishment under the circumstances.
Given that I’ve been in the health care industry for two decades, I’ll keep on practicing what I preach and keep tottering back and forth to the gym. On a brighter note, when I told the trainer I used to ride with my reins tied and my stirrups crossed over the saddle, posting for extended periods and then cantering and jumping that way his eyes got big. He said the thought of doing that scared him to death.
Hey, so here’s a cheer for us hard-working riders! Right now I think I’ve used up the remaining strength in my arms so I’d better stop typing.
Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone!
All the best,