Wednesday, February 15, 2012


If I had to explain in a few words how my winter in Florida so far has helped my riding, it is all about the consistancy.   And that is not just referring to being able to ride most every day in sunshine, but sticking with a dressage focus and not getting off track.    Whether your interest is polo, jumping or dressage, you can immerse yourself in watching good riding and listening to good instruction virtually every day.   This being an Olympic year the big shows with many big name riders happen almost every weekend.   And generally all this education is free or low cost and nearby.

There is also a conctant focus of training which is easier for me to maintain in this atmosphere.  Each day I can build on what happened the day before, pushing thru resistance or hesitancy in a firm but gentle way.   I have been cultivating the attitude of You will do this for me when dealing with my horse.   So often in the recent past even, my phrase was would you please do this or at least try it.   I think the happy medium I search for involves requesting in an insisting manner, if that makes sense.   I do not wish to be a dictator but a firm leader - directing and always encouraging for more.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cross Training

Thanks to people who responded to my last posting.   You have all given me much to think on and new ideas to process.   Perhaps the differences between disabled from birth and born able bodied play a bigger role than I realize.

Cross training is important for humans and animals alike.   We try to change our horses and perhaps dogs routines to avoid boredom and challenge new muscles and balance skills, and I would suggest must challenge those same principles in ourselves.    Some riders find yoga to help them with both concentration and balance as well as limberness and strength.    I have not had much success with yoga (and that may have been instructor driven) but have found all I was looking for in Pilates.   Because of my rather obvious physical challenges I did not try a group class, but did some research first.   I was able to find an ocupational therapist with pilates training locally.    I started with private classes (eek - expensive) until she became used to my strong and weak points and how to modify exercises for me.   Then I was able to switch to a semi=private and work along with someone else.   This cut the cost and has kept me more task oriented in many ways.

In the past I worked one on one with a professional body builder as a personal trainer.  He was able to instill a love of perfect practice over much practice to weightlifting which really has carryover to dressage training.   He insisted on the so called principle of muscle confusion which had you quickly alternate muscles used and the way in which they were challenged.   This, while not perhaps the best way to grow BIG muscles, certainly hepled me gain strength throughout the muscles range of motion.   Sadly as my hands have continued to deteriorate those exercises have all had to be modified and many watered down.   I do remain in Peter's debt for the habits he instilled, such as doing all your work at such a pace as to make you slightly breathless.   That way grooming and tacking adds to aerobic workout!   Think of the possibilities........

Friday, February 3, 2012

For Sake of Appearance

Today I struggled once again with the issue of trying my best to look like everyone else and ride just like all the other capable riders in our barn.   In particular, the issue which came up was using a piece of equipment which as a para rider I am allowed to use versus struggling away to figure it out and perhaps not achieve such an easy or neat result.   I find it hard to explain my dilema, but In a nutshell, I do not like being labeled as "different", or as though I had special advantages.   I work very hard to minimize my own disabilities when seen in public and that goes for riding as well.   To me the best complement is when someone notices my mount and I riding really well together not realizing until later when I am unmounted that I am in fact disabled.    If I felt that my horse's well being was in any way compromised, I would use any legal device without hesitation.    That has not been the case for me so far.    I do wonder how my fellow para riders feel about this issue.