Losing It: Equal-opportunity weight loss

When our horses start looking a little too round, we cut down on grain and step up the exercise. Lauren Morris observes, “Why is it that I can do that for my horses and not for myself?”

From Lauren:

Toy has always been a gentleman. We’ve been together since he was a mischievous 3-year-old colt… we’ve got history. Fifteen years (and only God knows how many ride hours) later, he maintained his composure as my chubby tush climbed back into the saddle after nearly two years away. I really appreciated the third step of the mounting block… and his discretion.

Two years. I had a baby nearly two years ago. It blows my mind to think that time has flown by with our little bundle of joy, so quickly. It also stings, knowing that I can’t exactly use her as an excuse for the extra weight that I’m still carrying around. Let’s be honest: At some point, it goes from being “baby weight” to just extra baggage.

I bit the bullet recently and finally switched my barn to SmartPaks. They had one of those 50-percent off sales and it got me. They know exactly what they’re doing with those clever little e-mails.

It’s exciting to try something new and, as horse owners, it makes us feel good to know that we are doing something positive for our horses. We all want the very best for them and take pride in being good horsemen(women). As I slipped open the first pack, though, it really got me thinking: Do I take better care of my animals than I take care of myself?


Taylor (TaylorMade) is my mother’s 14 year-old TB/Paint. She is the quintessential “easy keeper.” Give her a hair too much of anything to eat and she puffs up like a tick. We have always preferred to have our horses a little heavier than some (healthy, but not ribby), but when her backside turned into the perfect bird bath, I knew that something had to be done.

Like Toy, Taylor has been a bit of a pasture potato for the past several years. She gets plenty of quality turnout time, but not too much additional exercise. When her weight became an issue, I slowly reduced her feed and managed her weight back into her normal range. My mother still guilts me over the amount of feed her horse isn’t getting. I must admit, next to the bucket of my 17.1hh supermodel OTTB, Tessa, it does look quite meager.

(In case you are wondering: Yes, they all have “T” names. It started out as an accident that morphed into a personal challenge. We stand at six, currently: Toy, Taylor, Tessa, Trouble, Tyke, and Teddy. I’m honestly not sure how much farther I can go with it, but I digress.)

So, I clearly saw a problem with Taylor’s weight and I managed it back to where it should be. She’s healthy, our vet is pleased (he says she is no longer “under-tall”), our feed bill is slightly less… good things, all around! Now, why is it that I can do that for my horses and not for myself?

Toy didn’t exactly say anything, but I’m sure he noticed that his load was a wee bit heavier than it used to be, just as I noticed that those chaps took a little extra effort to squeeze into. I may or may not have used obscenities to zip them up, when my daughter was out of earshot.

For equestrians looking for new fitness solutions, what kinds of options are available? Let’s have a look at a few reasonable ideas and a couple ridiculous ones:

Equestrian Exercise Programs

For those of us on a budget and just looking to keep toned in the right areas for riding, books such as The Rider’s Fitness Program (Amazon.com, $15.75) might fit the bill. Focusing on strengthening the core and maintaining balance, this program can be completed in your own home with minimal investment in equipment. If you are willing to invest a bit more, you could also take part in a gym membership, buy a treadmill, etc.


There’s also Rider Fitness: Body & Brain (Horseandriderbook.com, $29.95)…


…and DVDs such as the Equibarre Fitness DVD (Equibarre, $19.95–also available in digital download).


Pilates has grown popular with riders as well for its combination of strengthening and stretching exercises–equestrian-specific programs include this free video series by Kerrits, Pilates for Equestrians, Pilates for Riders, Pilates for the Dressage Rider, Equilates, Equestrian Pilates and ABSolute Equestrian Pilates. Is yoga more your style? Check out these books and DVDs on Amazon.com.

And, there’s always Prancercise–if you dare!


Yes, you could do that. Someone let me know how that works out. Or this: The Equicizer.


Hey, look! They have a Holiday Sale… $400 off!!! Seriously, though, I can think of many ways I’d rather spend a few Gs, but for the equestrian who has everything, why not!? You can even engrave a fancy nameplate!

And there’s always… riding your horse!!!

As winter approaches and our daylight dwindles, I know that I’ll soon be limited to weekend rides and tempted by holiday meals. Not wanting to lose momentum on this whole riding thing, though, I have decided to incorporate a new fitness schedule into the off-season. After all, it is horse-related! With God and all of Horse Nation as my witnesses, I’m going to shed some lbs… for Toy’s back’s sake, if nothing else! SmartPak has the horses’ health under control. I suppose it’s time for me to manage my own.

What do you do to stay in shape during the “off season”?

Lauren is a 28-year-old Project Manager for a historic restoration company. She lives on a small farm in Virginia, along with her husband, their 20-month-old daughter, and a veritable cornucopia of pets and livestock. She is a Type-A overachiever who thrives on deadlines and limited amounts of sleep. With experience showing hunters, her current riding goals include re-establishing fitness following pregnancy and enjoying the more casual-side of riding outside of the show ring.


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