Dear Muscles: I’m Sorry.

This picture of my retiree, Jag (far right) has nothing to do with tonight’s post. I visited him and his two amigos last weekend, They were all mugging for treats. Sweet boys.

The last two weeks have been a strange and frustrating oddessy.  It started when I dropped my stirrups a hole, and had to remodel my seat (and muscles).  I had the great idea to help myself along by doubling down on the workouts, thinking that I’d suffer a bit but get over the hump faster.

I was wrong.  Very wrong.

About a week before the show, I staggered into the barn for a lesson, which turned out to be a total waste of time, due to the fact that I had pretty much exhausted myself earlier that day.  I apologized to Christy and told her I’d do my tougher workouts on non-lesson days.  She said that was a good idea, but also suggested that I back off a bit in general.

I decided to listen to her, and stopped all strenuous cardio work, because my legs just weren’t recovering.  My muscles – especially my riding muscles, felt exhausted all the time.  They were weak, and burning. When I rode, I had very little endurance.  It was ugly.

The show itself, as I mentioned was physically exhausting.  I have some new insight into my rides from Christy that I’ll share soon, but one key thing she noticed in the video of the rides is that I was double bouncing when I posted.   And that problem persisted a couple days after we got home.

While things have improved a bit this week (the double bouncing has been banished) I still haven’t been riding well.  Saturday was total mess, as a friend stopped by to meet Derby, and he was super fresh and looky, and I just didn’t have the wherewithal to deal with it.  Sunday started out the same way, so I put him on the longe. There was a lot going on that day – kids running all over blowing bubbles and riding Big Wheels, tractors and weedwhackers all over the place – you get the idea .  Derby starte off running like an idiot, but I was soon able to get him listening.  We did all sorts of transitions – walk, trot, canter, walk, halt, etc. and Derby really dialed in. He was listening well and even stayed focused during some pretty loud noises outside.

We joined Christy & Liam and Donna & Boomer outside, and to my delight, even though he was presented with some totally new sights (kids on swingset, the aforementioned toddler on the Big Wheel) he was as good as gold.

A few days ago, we talked about what was going on.  My legs still felt terrible and the endurance and strength just weren’t there. So I put more protein and more carbs back into my diet.  I took it easy for a few more days.  I added a multivitamin that is also supposed to boost energy.  I’ve loaded up on potassium rich foods.  I’ve changed up my schedule eating what amounts to my dinner at around 4 pm.

And finally, today, I felt better.

And finally, today, I was capable of a decent ride.

I’m so damn relieved.

I was finally able to carry myself, and Derby appreciated it, responding to my inside leg, softening and rounding.  As the lesson went on, my muscles started to fatigue but they weren’t shutting down, there was no burn.  It was a definite step forward.   And the quality of our ride really improved.  Nice transitions, a little nice canter.  And most important, a good connection.  Christy had me think about feeling his mouth in the context of the contact asking me at various points what I thought, and what I felt, and challenging me to remember what it feels like when there’s contact but the mouth is silent, because the horse is braced against the bit. “You hate that feeling,” she said. “Remember it. You hate that.  You don’t have control when he’s like that.”

I’m eager to get back out there tomorrow.  We’re aiming at another schooling show – and some redemption – at the end of the month!

About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital marketing executive and strategist with a long track record of success in content marketing, social media, demand generation, event marketing, sales enablement, product management and business development.

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