I have to admit I was probably a lot like all the other non-horse back riding people I know. I thought that riding a horse really was just sitting up on top letting the horse do all the work - I mean after all how hard can it be right?
Well I've owned my horse for a year now and what I've learned from him has been SUBSTANTIAL! I did know that riding horses at an advanced level took a LOT of strength and definitely fell into the 'workout' category. What I didn't realize was that learning how to ride correctly also fell into the 'workout' category.
I can honestly say that I have done many different things that have challenged me physically, many of them even challenged me mentally. None of them have challenged me physically and mentally AND had me laughing out loud from sheer joy all at the same time. This is not to say that I haven't enjoyed the things I've done or felt pride for my accomplishments because I have enjoyed them and been proud of myself.
I'm not sure if you've ever noticed but horses are kind of big. They also have minds of their own and will do pretty much whatever they want whenever they want which makes it imperative to create a partnership in the truest sense of the word so that everyone can be successful. People who know me know that I passionately believe in win-win scenarios and the power of team work. If we work together then we ALL succeed - we really are powerful beyond measure and can change the world if we put our minds to it.
As you can imagine I'm pretty adept at most things fitness related. Learning how to ride my horse has been one of the mot challenging things that I've ever done. I am NOT used to not being good at anything that's fitness related which as you can imagine can be a little frustrating for a person like me who's just a skoash competitive. (I'm also a tad bit demanding with my expectations for myself - I'm working on this though...) The greatest challenge that I've had to overcome in learning how to ride my horse lives between my ears. My own fear and doubt have been the greatest hurdles that I've had to overcome this past year.
It's funny but once I let go of my fear and doubt I instantly became a MUCH better rider. I knew in my heart of hearts that if anything went wrong I had the tools to shut things down and keep myself safe. The first time that I took my horse out trail riding alone - just the two of us - I was confident that I was leader enough to support both of us. And guess what? I was right. Now when I go out riding with him I'm more relaxed and allow him to go at the pace he's comfortable with.
With that said he IS a bit of a Princess. He does NOT like puddles so varies his speed and enjoys making last second mud puddle evasive moves along the trail. This means that I need to have my core engaged at ALL times and to be centered and balanced so that I can anticipate his movements and move with him. Teddy enjoys moving along at a brisk trot and being a 17 hand high Thoroughbred he can cover a lot of ground very quickly so I spend most of my time posting which directly equates to lots and lots and lots of squats.
I was talking to my dear friend Katie Swartz - Smith creator of Authentic You about my riding experiences. She then related her experience of running with me.... The story that she's been telling herself for the past year is that she can't run 3 miles without stopping. However this past weekend she did run 3.2 miles in and organized 5K run. What she discovered was that she's more capable than she thought she was and that what was holding her back was between her ears.
She agreed that the fear and doubt do keep us from realizing what we're capable of she then added that another aspect of the fear and doubt is the voice that let's us 'off the hook' - the voice tells us it's too hard and makes up reasons why we can't or worse shouldn't even try because we 'know' we can't do it. The reality is that we all really ARE capable, we really CAN do it and DO posses the tools to keep us safe in our lives currently we just might not be able to see it sometimes.
After talking with Katie I realized that I've seen this play out over and over and over in my athletes over the years as well as with myself. We are all so much more capable and strong than we think we are which keeps us from experiencing life to the fullest. It is in letting go of those negative voices that whisper sweet nothings in our ears that it's: safer not to try, that we're incapable, that it's too hard that prevent us from discovering pure joy in our daily lives.
The one constant I see in all my athletes is that once they've discovered that they're physically capable the negative voices lose strength. It is in moving forward physically that we allow ourselves to move forward mentally as well. There is great power in movement, great joy in movement as well as great healing in movement.
I feel the most alive when I am challenging myself physically and mentally because I love movement in pretty much all forms. Discovering the pure joy, the bliss in letting go of all the fear and doubt and just being in the moment of movement fills me with such joy I HAVE to laugh out loud because I just can't contain it.
I know that what brings me joy is most likely different than what brings you joy but I invite you to let go of your fear and doubt long enough to challenge yourself in a way that you've always wanted to challenge yourself and just stay in the moment to see what happens. You never know YOU might even need to laugh out loud because it's just too joyful to contain.
Here's to You in Health, Wellness and Fitness,
Jennifer Malocha CEO of Fun at Wuhoo Fitness
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