A few years ago I was a presenter at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. At the end of the event my mom drove down from Maine and picked the boys and me up and took us to her house. Jesse drove the horses back to Ohio and stayed their for a couple weeks before driving back to Maine to pick us up. It was a great trip for catching up with aging grandparents and family. It was one of the rare times we have enjoyed Thanksgiving in my hometown. But there was one drawback; no riding.

I’m sure I could have ridden a horse if I had tried. My mom had a rideable horse and so did friends but the weather was cold and I had ridden all summer, the break felt good and we kept busy.

When I returned home and began riding again I was surprised that I could feel a noticeable change in my riding strength. I could still do everything…but it was physically harder. After about a week I went for a deep tissue massage and mentioned that I was unusually sore. Her comment was, “Your not 20 anymore. You can’t sit down and expect nothing to change.”

Although this statement seems obvious, I can honestly say that during my time off visiting family I did not consider having any side effects. This time around I am considering what extended time off from riding will do. Using this knowledge I am also being proactive to prevent loss or even improve my fitness during this time.

I have never been one to workout. I never played sports (willingly) as a child and my only form of exercise was riding a horse. I have struggled with back troubles from the time I was a teen but even back then I noticed that I had fewer back issues during the summer as compared to the winter. When I was in high school my chiropractor also noticed and explained that a loss of muscle tone over the winter was causing my problems. This fit because I did ride less in the winter due to the heavy snow in Maine.fitness and horseback riding

Once I became a full time horse trainer I rode all winter. Fitness problem solved…but age also began to sneak in. I still required semi regular chiropractor appointments but I also learned that massages helped my adjustments stay longer. Both professionals also suggested stretching.

Now I do yoga and have found that by doing regular stretching and strength building I can maintain myself much better. I aim to do yoga every other day. I have never been to a yoga class because we travel so much but instead I follow along with a DVD. This particular DVD has five, 20 minute sessions on it which I rotate through.

I have been doing these yoga sessions for several years now and I am impressed at how much flexibility I have regained. It has also made me stronger and improved my balance.

Horseback riding is still my preferred method of exercise. I would rather ride a horse for two hours than spend 20 minutes working out in a gym…but I’m not 20 anymore, so I realize I might have to work a little bit more to fully enjoy it.

Several of you asked which yoga DVD I use so I am listing it here with a link for more info: