Fit to Ride: Skinny vs. fit
Horse Nation hardbody Biz Stamm returns to reframe what equestrian fitness is all about: “getting strong, feeling good, and being a better partner to your horse.”
Hey there, Horse Nation,
It’s been awhile since I last wrote. There are a lot of reasons for my lack of presence on Horse Nation as of late. I got married, my lesson/training program has become a fulltime endeavor, and I got a promotion at my lab job complete with tons more responsibility. So I’ve been busy, but also, I’ve been feeling a bit conflicted. I like to think of myself as a progressive woman, a feminist if you will, and last year I had a bit of an epiphany. I came to the realization that we as women are taught early on that our worth as a human is tied first and foremost to our appearance, and everything else is secondary. People will rarely say that directly, and may even vehemently deny it, but if you read between the lines the message is loud and clear.
We turn on the TV and are bombarded by commercials for products to make us look more beautiful, younger, and thinner. In the grocery store checkout we are surrounded by magazines filled with articles on “how to lose 10 lbs fast!” and “101 beauty tips.” On television and in movie, roles that are suppose portray, smart, strong, brave women, are played unbelievably gorgeous actresses, because really, who cares if someone is smart, strong, and brave if she’s not hot? I’d have less of problem with this societal superficiality if it wasn’t so one-sided, but men just don’t face the same kind of pressure to look a certain way.
I was just reminded of this inequity thanks to what is generally one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. I live in a college town, and on Halloween night the streets were teeming with costume-clad students. I saw girls dressed up as sexy doctors, sexy police officers, sexy murders, and sexy zombies, because even on a day when you get to be whatever you want, being sexy is still the most important thing. I saw zero men (with exception of a cross dressing guy in a miniskirt) wearing a “sexy”costume. This observation is one that I’ve made many years past, but this year, for some reason, it was particularly upsetting to me.
I know I’ve bought into this superficial school of thought more often than I’d like to admit. There have been several occasions where I have been praised for academic achievements (I was the jerk that threw off the curve in all your science classes in college), and instead of being able to fully celebrate those achievements, I would worry if I thought other girls in the class were prettier than me. I will also admit that the first thought I had upon viewing the pictures of myself finishing the Portland Marathon was “my goodness, I look fat in those pictures.” I had just finished a freaking marathon and my first thought was regarding how fat I looked?! When I type these things out, I feel extremely shallow, but I challenge you to be 100-percent honest with yourself, and I’m willing to bet that you have had similarly shallow, self-deprecating thoughts. If you haven’t, please email me with your secret to being awesome.
But anyway, I didn’t want to be an additional source of pressure, spouting that women need to look a certain way, so I stopped writing. As of late I’ve reconciled the cognitive dissonance in my head, however. I don’t need to stop writing the column. I just need to reframe it. So just to clarify, “Fit to Ride” is not a column about getting thin and being hot, it’s a column about getting strong, feeling good, and being a better partner to your horse. With that said, I look forward to sharing many contributions and helping you and horses to become stronger and more in tune with one another.
Biz Stamm is the 29 year old trainer and instructor of Stamm Sport Horse, LLC, specializing in pure dressage, as well applied dressage for riders involved with other disciplines. Originally haling from Hudson, NH, She is now living in Corvallis, OR. Biz started riding lessons at the age of 6 years old when the Dr. recommended that it may help with her bad balance and lack of coordination. While she is fairly coordinated and balanced on a horse these days, she is still somewhat of a mess on her own two feet.
Biz currently owns two horses: her lesson horse, Kalvin, a 7 year old half-Arabian gelding…
… and her personal horse, Alpha Helix, a 2 year old Kiger mustang gelding. Biz has had Helix since the day he was weaned, and considers him her “heart” horse.
Biz is also the proud owner (more like ownee!) of a 5 year old standard rex bunny named Pi Rex Rufuse (Get it!? Pi r-squared!!!). Biz has always wanted to have some sort of mini horse to live in the house, and since the current landlords won’s allow any kind of equine on the property, Biz opted for a rabbit, which evolutionarily speaking, is very closely related to the horse.
After getting a Masters degree in Plant Pathology, and pursuing a career in the scientific world, it became clear to her that she was only truly happy when she was interacting with, or talking about horses (and sometimes rabbits). Now that she is riding full time, Biz still keeps her scientific training close at hand, focusing on correct biomechanics and physics involved in riding.
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