Anyone who knows any member of my family knows that we are all obsessive :-) It makes family gatherings interesting, to say the least, but it has made us all successful in our chosen fields. When we go for something we throw ourselves fully into it and don't look back. When by brother chose to join the Marines a few years ago he started working out, on his own with no trainer, and kept it up for two full years before he was actually enlisted. My sisters routinely practice, they are both successful violinists, up to seven hours a day on their own and my mom decided a year ago that she wanted to run in a marathon and has signed up and ready for one early this next year.
I have always felt that it is important for the rider to be as much of an athlete as we expect the horse to be and have always been fairly fit. When riding larger horses I felt as though I was strong and fit enough, now I realize that I wasn't, but when I changed to riding smaller equines I started to feel differently. Since I bought Myshla in April I have lost over thirty pounds and in October I added a gym membership. This is the first time I have EVER worked out at a gym. In the past I have walked, run, done sit ups, some stretching and even lifted some weights but never in any real sort of routine. However, when I decided that my goal with Katai was to earn my bronze medal I knew that I would have to do something more.
The first few times that I went to the gym were incredibly intimidating. I had two sessions with a personal trainer to teach my how to use the equipment so that I wouldn't do anything wrong and then started working out on my own. It is amazing the difference that a month and a half of routinely working out will make! I've only lost a pound or two, partially because my diet suffered when I initially started working out, but I've lost several inches and for the first time I can actually truly claim to have at least some core strength. I went from barely being able to do 20 crunches on the ground to being able to do over 50 on the inversion table thing :-) I have a long way to go to be really fit but I'm on my way.
For anyone that is curious about an adult riding a pony there are several things that I personally keep in mind. It is widely known that riders should weigh no more than 20%-25% of a horse's body weight. Some people say that ponies can go up to 30% but in my mind that is too much especially if you are asking them to be very athletic. Currently I am right around 20% of Katai's weight but when I loose the rest of the weight to meet my goal I will be closer to 18%. I would also be curious to know the ratio of some cowboys on reining horses. To me they seem much more unbalanced size wise than me on my ponies but it is hard to know. Secondly there is the amount of bone and build of the pony. Some ponies are built more like small horses and are very dainty, others are built more like small drafts. Both Katai and Myshla are more like the second although of the two Myshla is built much heavier. Finally there is the balance of the rider. The smaller the horse the more you can through off their balance with your upper body. I can feel this when I ride Myshla especially when she wasn't in as good of shape as she is now. This just means that you have to be much more aware of your balance and how you use your upper body.
I truly adore riding my little girls and want them to have the best health, comfort and happiness that they can. I am always aware of how they are doing both health wise and emotionally and pay careful attention to their needs. I know that riding ponies isn't for everyone but I truly enjoy them so much more than bigger equines that I am happy to pay for a gym membership to keep my ponies :-)