Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is Horsebackriding Good Exercise??

Have you run into people who don't think a horse hobby really can yield a good workout?

I had a doctor tell me this, quite confidently, at a physical once; "Oh well you ride horses; of course that's not a true workout because...the horse is doing all the work!" Picture happy smiling doctor telling me what's what, from the standpoint of infinite knowledge. Yukkety yuk, Young Doctor Malone.

I beg to differ.

Yesterday I began my little non-exercise hobby chasing a horse for 1/2 hour, fuming and swinging my lead rope and attempting to kill him. Murderous rage plus running full tilt = good workout, Young Doctor Malone.

I had driven up the road to the barn past my horses' pasture and seen: small horse hanging like a big hairy tick from my horse John's general jugular area. John backing up with pinned ears and panicky stumbling, young horse hanging on. John backed into electric fence, John shaking his head. Young horse hanging on.

The young horse is a giveaway acquired for the schooling program at my boarding barn. He is described as a Hackney Pony because;

1. He has weird gaits
2. He is small
3. He has unusual conformation.

I'm pretty sure there's more to being a Hackney Pony than this. What I am certain about is that he is a PIA of royal proportions.

A very large (4" square) section of neck skin is missing from Montana, and John would no doubt be likewise the 'visible horse' if he didn't have such tough hide.

So I took off after this "Hackney Pony" and chased him all around the yard. My goal was to show him some dominance and keep him away from something he wanted (the hay bales) while also perhaps landing a pleasing thwack on his rump with the rope to vent off my rage.

I noticed:

1. Horses can run so much faster and farther than humans; it's not fair.

2. John got into it right away and was running at my side, ears pinned, reaching for a nip whenever we got close to the young HackDude. It was a very eerie feeling running alongside him in a common purpose like that. How did he know I wasn't mad at every horse but just HackDude?

I was wrung out by the end, and what decided the end? HackDude began to look pathetic rather than defiant. John admired me greatly all that day and we rode out along the newly thawed dirt road, John snorting and blowing and gaiting perfectly. I believe I gained some points in his mind. I hope so.

It did scare me how furious I was. I hope I don't see that sight again, ever.

This is my idol we're talking about.

And speaking of exercise:

My employer offers us $60 if we take a "wellness assessment", and another $60 if we sign up for a health improvement program. Well, that's money in these times so I did both.

I signed up for the 10,000 Steps Program, which asks you to walk 10,00o steps a day for 2 months and use a pedometer to clock the steps - they sent you the pedometer.

I discovered I walk a lot anyway but I also discovered:

If you wear your pedometer while riding, you accumulate unholy amounts of steps!! i am talking about 14,000 steps in one half hour ride!! I found this out by accident - meant to take the thing off before riding but forgot. I think it just gets jiggled so much it goes mad during riding....

I don't in any way intend to submit riding "steps" for my actual walking program but I thought it was so funny to mount up at "1209 steps" and dismount at "18904 steps" without having my feet touch the earth once.

Now remind me why I can't kill that young horse.


Rocky Mountain Yankee said...

So sorry you're having trouble with the "Hackney Pony." That is one of the hardest things about boarding, not being able to control everything. Hope the situation gets better soon!

OnceUponAnEquine said...

Chasing the pony and swinging your lead rope means you were getting both an upper and lower body work out. Tell that to Dr. Malone! I'd like to see a picture of HackDude. He sounds interesting.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

My husband was given that 10,000 steps a day incentive by his employer, but he has a desk job and they wouldn't give him long enough breaks to get all those steps in during a day, so he gave up.

When I was taking equitation lessons, after one hour of intensive riding I was dripping sweat and breathing so hard I thought I was going to pass out. That doctor should try posting for an hour and tell you it's not exercise.

Flying Lily said...

RockyMuontain: If I kill him it will get better, but I'll have to be in jail for awhile. Might be worth it.

OnceUpon: I didn't think of that!! total body workout and tantrum at the same time. So there, Doc. I'll try to get a pic of hackney today.

NuzzlingM: i agree; I get out of breath posting and can hyperventilate cantering, surely this is aerobic exercise. And all the other stuff: walk walk to get horses, tack them up, etc. Carry stuff. Lift a western saddle. All these workplace exercise incentives are designed to save $$ for the employers in fewer insurance costs: "Your appendix burst? Oh just go for a nice long walk - here's a pedometer."

3pennyjane said...

I've done the same thing with the pedometer; what I wonder is whether it's counting each hoofbeat or somehow rounding them. Experiment time! As for the MDs, yeah: Sitting on a horse is poor exercise. Riding a horse is something else again.

Maybe Jessica Jahiel has some advice about situations like the one with the hackney pony somewhere in her archives. Ponies are little, but they be fierce.

Flying Lily said...

3Pennyjane: In my case I believe the pedometer may be counting the jiggles of my stomach I mean taut abs. I'll look for Jessica Jahiel's perspective on pasture brats.

Stephanie said...

You must have been some sight! Chasing that naughty pony around!! I hate getting that mad always seems to take a toll at the end :)
And those silly doctors have no idea what they are talking about. My doc told me the same thing so I wore my exercise heart rate monitor for every ride for a week and gave him the report... That changed his mind! If I wore it just for riding and hour it was almost 1000 calories! Never mind if I wore it the whole time I was at the barn...
Hope the pony issue goes away for you!

photogchic said...

If you kill the you going to achieve your steps?:-) I can't tell you how many people tell me riding is not exercise or a sport or takes any skill. I issue a challenge to come try it, but so far no takers. I know how hard I sweat after a good dressage lesson.

c2b said...

Hah, my human thinks she is exercising just because she gets sweaty, aches, is out of breath and her heart rate is up, she should try being where I am. It might be exercise to a wimpy human but us horses know what REAL exercise is. For example, try asking my human to run up a hill carrying a heavy that I would like to see.
My human wears a pedometer. I help her get bigger numbers on it by running off when she comes to catch me and not coming when she calls so she has to walk up the hill.

Flying Lily said...

Stephanie: If I could have seen myself, I would have had to go into hiding after. I'm sure it was horrifying and funny both. I was so mad I didn't care, and for me that's saying a lot. A heart rate monitor is a great idea! That would be hard evidence.

Photogchic: Good point; better keep him around for motivation. New bite on Montana's chest yesterday, but Mr. Hackney gave me a wide berth in the pasture. :)

C2B: Zoe, Excellent point. Carrying my horses uphill would be much more difficult. You are kind to help your human get high pedometer numbers and I'm sure she appreciates it. What would you do to this uppity pony now? I'd like to see that transpire.

Jocelyn said...

Im cracking up that Big John was in on the BAd Pony chasing.

Flying Lily said...

Jocelyn, that was so funny - he even 'ran' slowly beside me so as not to get ahead. Most fun he's had in awhile I would guess. he looked completely, 100% awake at the end.

Molly said...

I got that pissed off at a gelding. I was trying to catch him up to put him in a stall and he thought the hay pile was more to his liking. He double barreled toward me and only missed because I out maneuvered his two back feet. I chased him from side to side of the barn until he put himself into a stall. I was shaking I was so mad. I wished I had John to help, but apparently my mare wanted in on the chase, so I hear from observers.
Good job.
Now I gotta lay down just from the memory.

Flying Lily said...

Molly, that was hilarious and I too was shaking mad throughout. It was gratifying to see this young horse go tiptoeing swiftly in the opposite direction when I approached the pasture gate yesterday.

allaroundhorses said...

That is great! I think even without haveing to chase everyone and all that horses are great exersize, especially when working with a young horse. Zorro for a while would leave me just exhausted when I finished riding him for a while! Not to mention all the abdominal, thigh and but muscles we must have, and for the horses who are just learning how to lead, arm muscles. I know this, because I am just halter training my 2 month old, and even though it takes very little effort and time to get past this, at first they have a tendancy to feel like pulling away, even if things seem to be going fine :).

Anyways, I hope your doctor will one day be able to see how beneficial "equisize" is...I think that is a real word, but maybe I spelt it wrong?

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