After we had warmed up and done a little loping, LA decided it was time to have some fun and we did Keyhole. Two large rubber barrels were set up at the far end of the paddock and we each took turns. The object of the game is to go through the barrels without touching them, turn around, come back through the barrels and come on home. In Games, this is a timed event. We did the first couple of runs at a jog and worked our way up to a lope. Gem loved it! As a matter of fact, we set the pace by doing a very fast lope (hand gallop??) each time we were on our way home! It was great. The added bonus was that the wind in my face helped dry my melting eyeliner.
As we were cooling down, LA said that I rode well and that I was improving. Her homework for me was to work on my hands (sigh) and to work on mine and Gem’s stamina. Stamina?? WTH?? Hmmmm…. OK, so we both huff and puff after we have loped a little. And, yes, I do have to take “senior” breaks during lesson. Now that I think of it, Gem tries to take “senior” breaks, too. Gem’s age in human years is around 35. He shouldn’t be huffing and puffing like me! Good grief! I have turned my horse into me!!! Yikes!
How can I improve Gem’s stamina? After thinking about it, I realized that I have to improve mine first! I admit that I have never done any real exercise. OK, wait… I did go out to a lot of discos and dance clubs just about every weekend in the 70’s and 80’s. Olivia Newton John, with her song and very risque (at the time) video “Physical”, was a sort of inspiration for women to squeeze into leotards and join a gym, well before Flashdance became a hit. During this time period, I made a fashion statement at a local gym (in reality most gyms were just another place to strut your stuff and had bars conveniently located off the main lobby!) wearing my bright blue and red stripped leotard, with red tights and a blue head band. Quite fetching! :-) Did I break a sweat?...uh, no, not really. Didn't want to ruin the look! But dancing and going to a gym has got to count for something, right??
The first year I had Gem, I was intimidated and didn’t push him or me. However, I was using my elliptical 3 times a week. My good friends couldn't believe that I was EXERCISING. Starting into the second year with him, I had surgery in April and my recovery didn’t feel completely done until last December. I was advised not to use the elliptical for 2 months. It was a slippery slope. During that time period I got out of the habit of using the elliptical and I just never seemed motivated to pick it back up again.
Gem is certainly in better shape than when we first partnered up. He’s lost weight and he has built muscle. He’s actually rounding himself more when he lopes. He looks magnificent. The issue is that he’s plateaued because of MY lack of endurance.
Gem is now my motivator. I want him to be strong and healthy. That means that I will have to do some work, too. I am being realistic. If I can build up my core muscles enough to give me correct balance and improve my breathing, I will be happy. I am not asking for the moon. There’s really no excuse not to use the elliptical. I used to use it in the morning while the coffee was brewing and that routine worked out well. Using the elliptical will also give me quiet time to read my Book Club book (Little Bee), which I never seem to be able to find the time to finish! So, I will be dusting off the elliptical and getting up 15 minutes earlier and starting a regular routine tomorrow. Wish me luck! Now where is that leotard?.....What was I thinking....?