I tried running for a while. It was the barefoot running craze time, everybody lusted after a pair of Vibram Fivefingers – I tried those too and hated them. I even ran a few “Extreme Trail” races. I hated those too. Well, I hated the running part. I didn’t mind the mud and the camaraderie at all.
A friend of mine has been using Runtastic to track all of her rides on her three horses for the year. Facebook will pop up with her stats, which she simply labels with the name of whichever horse she was riding. Some days she rides more than one of them. I spend a few minutes staring at the time she has put in, wondering how on earth she manages it, and then I remember something important about her.
She is a nurse.
I’ve never met a nurse who can’t handle a ton of things all at once and cram in eight different tasks to five minutes. It is a remarkable profession full of truly amazing individuals. She is one of those incredible people who can attend to everybody else whilst also keeping her own shit together. I kind of have a girl crush.
Cowboy has been on and on at me for neglecting my horses. I have been telling myself it’s because I don’t have time, or I have to get something else done first, or it’s too hot, or it’s not hot enough, or Mr T is lame, or he needs time off, or Sunshine is fine, she’s not too fat, or she just got trimmed so her feet will be sore, or…
I finally admitted to myself that I need to cut the crap. He is right. I haven’t paid any attention to my caballos, and they don’t really appreciate being left to eat their way through boredom. Mr T is indeed still a bit lame, but I tell everybody else that movement and exercise are the keys to helping a horse become and stay sound, so it’s about time I swallowed my own medicine there. Sunshine is indeed too fat, and has no muscle condition to speak of.
I set my alarm. I actually got up and going. I ate breakfast and went out to get a halter and catch my little yellow blob. She was too bored of being out in the field to really give me the runaround. She sighed heavily when she saw me bring the saddle out, and she gave me a look as if to say “Really? This nonsense again?”
Yes, mare, really. I pulled out my phone and loaded up Runtastic. I set us a goal of travelling 5k. Just over 3 miles. We were just going to move forwards until we had covered some ground, just long trot most of it as if we were going out to check fence. We have never long trotted well in our lives.
She was confused, initially, trying to guess which circular drill we were going to be doing today, but eventually she settled in to just moving forwards. She would slip back into her lazy little dog-trot, but I was being careful not to nag with my legs so that when I did give her a kick, it meant something. She started to get the idea.
Towards the end, I asked her to really move out at the canter. She often gives me a grabbing canter stride with her front feet and a cheating trot step with her back feet, so I just drove her forwards today, demanding that she use herself properly to get a three-beat canter. She is so out of condition that there was no way she could travel in a balanced way, so it felt horrific as we flew around the sand, but at least we were moving. I was glad of my chinks to keep me sucked into my saddle…
We cooled off with some walking – actively, like we were going somewhere. She was sweaty and puffing. I was sweaty and not exactly full of breath myself. It was a good start.
She will probably hate the sight of me tomorrow, but it is a necessary evil for us. I know she will get over it when she starts to feel fitter and stronger. I’ll keep you posted.