Boxy Situations

Box-insideRoo is an outside the box thinker! My trainer says it’s because he has a strong sense of self preservation which makes sense because, after all, he is a mustang. Even though he was rounded up as a foal he shows every sign of knowing exactly how to take care of himself – See food? Eat it! Find water – drink it (especially if it is dripping down your mane!).

There are a couple of common boxes in dressage – the “sand box” also known as a ring and “in the box” which is a description of where the horse is expected to be within his body based on the aids. There’s also the judge’s box  and the boxes on a test sheet but we’ll leave those out for now.

Boxes, real (think trailer or stall) or artificial (created by the aids), seem to make Roo a bit claustrophobic. In response, he leads with No and if that doesn’t get my attention, he follows with Hell No. Hell No used to work fairly well for him but either he’s gotten less emphatic or I’ve grown accustomed to that level so that now it doesn’t stop him from having to deal with being in whatever box he is presented with so he gives in and accepts his fate.

As a rider, my job is to make being in the required box easy and comfortable. I’m not always quick enough and consistent enough, though. Lately, some of his “not gonna” answers have worked to keep him out of the box. It’s become obvious in my rides and scores, which have gone down since June even though we’ve been showing at a lower level than we’ve been schooling. My bad! He’s only going to do what I require of him. . .so I need to require more.

Yesterday’s lesson took us back to setting the box dimensions and sticking to them. Roo said No more than once and even threatened Hell No but with the encouragement of my trainer, I persisted. My persistence and patience paid off in that Roo let go of the resistance and stayed in the box created by my aids. I did have to reiterate the box dimensions frequently but his objections became smaller and smaller until cooperation  and release were dominant. I’m sure the next ride will follow the same pattern but I’m relieved to know the issues we’ve been having are quickly fixed with my proper attention and perseverance.

I wish we didn’t revisit topics we have mastered in our training at some point, but I guess that is life! We’re heading out to measure the success of our returning to the box again in a week at the Southeast Schooling Show Championships. Wish us luck!

Roo is a cool character always but he’s the most exciting ride when in the box! How’s your riding going? Did it slide a bit in the hottest part of the summer like ours did? Is your horse an inside- or outside-the-box thinker?

See you at the barn!


PS We didn’t get any good pictures of the saddle pad at the shows but #Teamequinety anyway!

Snapshot 2 (9-23-2018 6-34 AM)



Officially Affiliated

NEWS! I’m excited about this. I’ve waffled about becoming an affiliate for a while so to have made a decision pleases me. Yes, I love the product, but I was uncertain for a while about making it official. Warning: very promotional material follows!

You may know that my mustang Roo has been an Equinety Ambassador for a couple of years and I love what it’s done for him – he’s all shiny, his hooves are great, and his recovery is very fast even in the heat of summer. I’m excited that you can order now online through my affiliate page:

Equinety Horse XL is an amino acid supplement specifically designed to deliver optimal nutritional support to your horse’s body, encouraging the production of additional healing, repair, and growth factors that jumpstart the natural processes of cell repair and regeneration. In a very short time using Equinity, you will notice beneficial results in your horse, such as a shiny coat, stronger hooves, a calmer demeanor, more focused when ridden, and a quicker recovery.

If you are looking for a supplement to boost your horse’s health, wellness and performance, look no further. But don’t take my word for it, read the many testimonials about Equinety Horse XL for yourself at

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

See you at the barn,

PS Where is your Equinety? You can see mine is in my locker!


Please buy from the stores first (you will save shipping charges and you will also be supporting local businesses)! But, if you cannot get to one of the Georgia stores, please order online at

Georgia Stores:

Acworth Feed, Acworth GA (770) 529-0319

CrossRail Apparel & Tack (at Foxberry Farm), Dallas, GA (404) 392-4324

Wildhorse Tack and Feed, Powder Springs, GA (770) 943-5493


When is the last time you participated in a clinic?

Clinics are a tool to help build riding skills over a lifetime, but it’s so hard to commit to them.

We’ve all done it. We wake up for an early morning clinic start, realize how delightfully comfy our bed is, think about how much more fun it would be to ride than audit, and pull the duvet back over our heads. Riders may be sleeping in, but this doesn’t mean their riding is not a priority. There are many reasons riders skip auditing clinics – some are valid and others not. As our education options become increasingly online, you may be wondering what purpose auditing clinics serves, especially when videos of the clinicians teaching are uploaded to Facebook and readily available on YouTube.

Read on for some good reasons to make the time to attend clinics.

Clinics can save you time

One of the reasons that many riders skip auditing is because they feel that auditing is a waste of time. But watching others ride with good instruction can actually save you time and may serve as a map for your training. A good clinician will present riding issues in ways you may not have heard before, triggering new thoughts for you. Pay attention to how your clinician presents information and take good (not copious) notes*. The instructor will highlight the most important issues s/he sees that day. ”Does the clinician get excited about a certain subject? Does you clinician repeat terms or ideas frequently?

Clinics teach concentration

You’ve probably heard that there are several ways of learning, and while reading or doing might be the preferred methods for many students (aren’t we all students?!), listening is another important way of learning material.

Clinics are more than the sum of the rides

Remember that clinics are more than just the sum of their rides. One of the biggest reasons to audit clinics is that the clinician may present information that is neither outlined in books nor covered by your regular instructor – anything from important training tips or explaining changes in show rules. There are always a few points that still don’t make sense even after reading books and articles about the movement (or whatever other concept is confusing)…hearing the clinician explain or demonstrate it often clears up the confusion right away.

Clinics aren’t just about the person standing in the middle of the ring. If you don’t participate in clinics either as a rider or auditor, you won’t have the chance to ask questions (or hear the questions others ask) and you won’t be able to interact with others in your discipline. Clinicians may be the ‘experts,’ but you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from your fellow participants.

Clinics give you opportunities

Go to clinics and ask questions! Speak up if you don’t understand something, participate in discussions, and don’t be afraid to talk to the clinician or the other participants after the clinic. A clinician can help you connect the dots, help you see the big picture. Pay attention to more than just the riding. Did your clinician mention a website, event, or company in passing that sparked your interest? Make a note and follow up on it after the clinic – you’re there because the instructor and discipline interests you and chances are that there are other concepts you’ve never considered. If nothing else, attending clinics and asking questions can help you form relationships within your riding community – especially important when you get to the show grounds and want or need support! Clinics tend to nurture cultures of community – riders simply support each other, right?

*Learning actually doesn’t stick unless you put concentration and effort into it. Try these strategies to help you remember:

  • Scribble, underline, and dog-ear pages.
  • Revisit your notebook (often). Handwrite new organized notes on cards.
  • Write a blog post about what you’ve learned from the clinic.
  • Incorporate what you learned into a talk (if that’s your thing) or into a conversation, or many!


You get to decide which parts of a clinic feed and fuel your interest; follow that interest!

See you at the barn!



Show Weekend

This year my riding/training mission has been simply to get Roo out and about, but I’ve had a hard time finding the drive to get it done. Late into the season, I decided to ride at schooling shows at second level in order to give us (me; Roo doesn’t care) goals. Going for second level scores means that we could qualify for Southeast Schooling Show Championships which are Sept 29-30 and participating in the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association year-end awards program.

In the light, I aggressively signed us up for two shows this weekend – one each day; both taking place about 13 miles from our home barn. I find that is I haven’t have strong incentive it’s much easier to stay at home and school or go out on trails, both of which are readily available at Foxberry Farm, where we board. They even host 3 schooling show per year so if I’m feeling terribly lazy I don’t even have to go off property to ride tests! Last year, I didn’t take Roo anywhere. Bad, bad trainer! So this year, we have to make up for that lack of exposure and get out to strutt our stuff.


When I checked ride times for the Saturday show, I noticed we didn’t have times! I emailed the show staff and then discussed it with someone in the know. She told me they have more than 120 dressage rides to schedule and it was likely a simple oversight. Well, the size of the show plus the rain forecast made me a bit nervous so I took our lack of times as a sign and I bailed! Instead, Roo and I schooled and practiced trailer loading – his very favorite thing!

I was told the Sunday show would be smaller so I signed up for second tests 1 and 3. Both tests flow nicely and I really like test 3 but need more than that to qualify for GDCTA awards.

Roo had an opinion about morning travel but we got there solo. He did very well upon arrival in the new environment. Admittedly, it’s not completely new – we’ve schooling there a couple of times in the last year. We met up with some of his herd friends so he was much more comfortable than if they had not been there. Arriving early allowed us to hand graze and explore a bit. Nothing seemed too alarming. Roo says that the grass was good but it’s still not the same as turnout~

Warm up went fine. Roo was tense-ish which played into the first test but he gave me a good place to sit so it was not bad. He’s at a stage in his training that even though it might be uncomfortable in a new setting he’s willing to listen to me most of the time. He’s matured enough to focus on the work more often than not.

Our first test (test 1) of the day had a couple of bobbles. After the first medium trot from H to P, the collected trot takes you from P to K. Well, Roo nearly darted out of the ring at A! Surprised me~ Oops. Then at the final part of the canter work, (F to E change of rein), Roo got a solid look at the wall of banners. He seemed to think they’d be worth reading so he completely stopped to get a good read of them. When I got him moving again, I apparently picked up the “right” wrong lead (it was supposed to be a counter canter from E to H) so we got an error. Seriously, I thought I had picke dup the outside lead but I must not have!

Test 3 came up faster than I expected! Even though I love the flow of that test I had a pilot error! At least Roo wasn’t inclined to exit at A or take a break to view some banners or any other things of interest.


Second Level, Test 1: 66.2%

Second Level, Test 3: 63.5%


  • While it wasn’t a 70% day, it was very successful!
  • We got off property (for both trailering and riding)
  • Roo handled new/stimulating very well
  • We qualified for Southeast Schooling Show Championships
  • We have 2 more scores toward the GDCTA year-end awards requirements


  • We brushed off a little more of that “green” we’ve been carrying around for too long!

Thank you to all the Foxberry Farm family for the support and assistance today!!

Dressage, as I see it

With military origins, dressage is simply a French word meaning training. The military used dressage to create well-trained horses that could keep the Calvary out of harm’s way particularly in hand-to-hand combat. Using the “airs above ground” (these days seen mostly in Spanish Riding School demonstrations), military horses were weapons and could handily keep ground soldiers from getting to their riders. Today, the most basic dressage goal is to ride the horses using the correct biometrics to ensure longevity and physical soundness.

In the US, you will find many Type A personalities choosing dressage as it is an analytical discipline in a way most other riding is not. It can take many years to master the nuances of dressage training in both the horse and yourself. Both rider and horse must work as one to create the ultimate dance which is Grand Prix. In its pure essence, dressage is gymnastics and ballet (science and art). Put that in competition and you can add ice dancing to the analogy. An Olympic sport at Grand Prix level, dressage has technical skills measured in patterns called “tests” and also a musical freestyle component for those whose scores show they have mastered the technical tests. Freestyles have a set of requirements but the pattern and sequence and musical accompaniment are up to the rider.

Riding a well-trained, advanced dressage horse that is sensitive to the aids is like driving a sports car with racing suspension. It’s powerful, graceful, and exhilarating! Keeping in mind that this “sports car” has a mind of its own can make the ride the ultimate adrenaline rush – having another living being working with you, allowing you to direct their energy in the moment. Thrilling!

Since it can take a long time to train a dressage horse through the Training Scale to achieve the highest levels of the sport, often horses and riders stay together for many years, forming unbreakable bonds.

Topics of discussion often heard in dressage barns:

  • Classical training vs competition training
  • How to choose the right saddle for horse and rider; re-fitting saddles to accommodate changing toplines about every 6 months
  • Using the snaffle bridle or a double bridle? Which bits to choose?
  • How much time in turnout?
  • Which shoes are best?
  • Feeding – supplements?
  • Health Care – vaccinations or not? (If you show you must vaccinate)
  • Trainer du Jour

Words/Phrases you will hear often:

More Forward! (in varying degrees of volume), connection, engagement, more bend, Flexion , don’t lose the shoulder (hindquarters/connection/ribcage/etc.), control the length of stride, supple, in front of or behind the leg or aids, quicker transitions, be more interesting (than whatever scary object the horse sees/spooks at), uphill (goal)/downhill (bad), sit (for engagement). “Alignment” is a good one – it has many meanings. And most often said but misunderstood: half-halt. It is what it sounds like: a momentary interruption but also not. It’s very complicated and for every time it’s said it has a different meaning and way to be applied! This is one of the reasons it takes so long to learn dressage!

So, does this jibe with how you see dressage? Let me know~

See you at the barn!


It’s a Start

Dressage, like life, is — and always will be — a work in progress.

I’ve now ridden my first fourth level test in front of a judge. It was at a schooling show at the boarding barn but with an ‘R’ judge so worth entering just for the experience. We do not go out much so we need practice! We don’t have all the moves down perfectly yet but when we are connected and supple Roo is good. This event was for the practice of putting all the pieces of showing together – pre-show training, conditioning, cleaning/prep, learning the test and timing and working the warm up – more than getting a score.

In my head, Roo and I are in perfect sync. We’re loose and supple in our whole bodies – we are one. Yeah. It didn’t turn out like that this time. About this show, my step father would say Makes for a good story.

On shows at our barn, the home horses stay in (most are showing) so this day mimicked an away show well. I took Roo out for a couple of walks both to acclimate to the environment and eat some grass. Roo is 10 yo but still green since I take him so few places. He’s never been very comfortable with a lot of activity or “new” (he is a bit quirky) but during our walk he only had a few brief moments of greenbean behavior then he settled right into the clover at his feet. I am pleased with that.

As with many horse shows, there was a lot of hurry up and wait. We did all our grooming prep and braiding. He looked stunning, especially with the bling browband I just added to his bridle. He did show some nerves when being saddled but nothing alarming. Then came the warm up. Ugh. He was distracted and wasn’t letting me into his body much at all so we never achieved fluidity before our test time came. Two positive things here:

1. I now know he needs a long and slower warm up when just coming out of his stall and 2. He was amazingly calm about the corn hole game going on above us in the warm up ring – no spooking at it as the bean bags flew, just distracted. Roo 1; Game 0.

Test time came too quickly. We were able to take a couple of quick circles in the main dressage ring before heading down center line. Hey, we halted; he was listening, if only a little. Since we were not operating at optimum, most of the efforts were conservatively performed and lacking real engagement. Under the circumstances, not surprising. There was a moment as we did the second half of the trot portion where I thought we’d make it through the test without too much difficultly. Sigh. Not to be. Trot complete; walk complete. Canter…

Roo has a truly lovely canter which I could and often do ride most of my in-saddle time. When I start to throw in changes, though, Roo gets a bit anxious so he “powers up” and anticipates, often locking me right out of the connection.

This canter trip, things quickly got speedy and inaccurate even though we sort of hit our marks. The last line of the test is supposed to be a collected canter diagonal from H to F with 3 canter changes. As we turned onto the diagonal, Roo did the first change. Power and speed crept in and increased at the second change just as he got a good look at the spectators behind F. I no longer had much influence over him but I went for the 3rd change in hopes of being able to make the final turn up center line without falling on our faces. However, I quickly realized that was a mistake and we were not going to make the turn at all so I hauled on the inside right which popped his shoulder out causing him to catch the chain, which then got around his back legs. I could feel him start to panic so I turned him tighter. I felt the panic drop so I knew the chain was off and we had stopped just left of center around L. I do not know what possessed me but at the point I decided to send him to X where I halted, saluted, and promptly got off! Roo was over the whole thing by then but I was a bit shaky. Once I was off people clapped.

Riding in general is so amazingly rewarding in so many ways but dressage is a sometimes-long and challenging learning process. It can take a lot of moral support! I want to thank everyone for the encouragement given to us via Facebook, in person, and at the show.

20180506_100431Final score was a 58.378% and a “recovered well!” for the final comment from Leslie Olsen, ‘R’ (GA).

If you are curious, feel free to watch the video. My husband did not film the debacle at the end. Warning: this is by far not up to our standards! Roo is Super ‘Stang and is fluid and lovely 95% of the time.

DQ Moments


OMG, I am such a DQ at times (No, laughing! It’s truly not all the time.). When I got to the barn to get ready for a lesson, I saw that it was busy. I had no idea so much work would be going on and so many people would be there. Sundays are often sort of sleepy (and very pleasant) days at Foxberry and I was in that mode so it was a shock to see so much activity.

Some of you with DQ tendencies will see where I was mentally and others of you will think I was over the top…

Here’s what was going on:

  1. There was a cherry picker in one arena where there were a couple of men working on changing out light bulbs and adding new lights to help with illuminating the other arena. They had one light down and were working on it when Roo and I walked in from the pasture. While he was not exactly afraid, he stared and took a wide path away from it (trying to be behind me!).
  2. There was chainsaw repair happening in the driveway with little noise but it did get fixed and was then out being used in the pastures.
  3. Jump repair was going on behind the barn (behind the cross ties) with power tools – mostly hand saw and power drill/screw driver – in action.
  4. The new tack shop building construction continued. The tools for that one are louder since the nail gun is often in play.
  5. The gun range up the road was being used so there was also shooting noise.
  6. Mark came to watch the lesson which ended up being cancelled after all.

Add to the all those things wearing my new boots for the first time and I was very distracted. Most of these things were simply noisy and noises are not terribly upsetting to Roo, but are often disturbing to me. I expected Roo to be concerned by the cherry picker particularly when it was moving. He did one nearly 180 degree whip around of his head when the crew moved the whole truck within the arena but otherwise he really didn’t care about the guy suspended in midair working on the light. That happened when I was riding. Otherwise, the ride was focused and responsive. When I walked Roo back to his pasture, he was a rather concerned about the guy on the short ladder at the base of that same light pole. Go figure!

I’m very pleased that the farm is getting the attention and care that it is. This was simply an unexpected-to-me amount of activity happening all at once. Since the weather has been so wet, I should have expected everyone to be out on such a nice day.

Lesson: I am more of a dressage queen that I realized and Roo is more mature and more level-headed than I give him credit for.

Once again, Roo is Super ‘Stang!

Today’s Dressage Lesson

This afternoon it got hot! There was a nice breeze but it was hot for my fuzzy pony. I think it’s time to clip… I’m writing a bit about our lesson in hopes of remembering it well. We have been working on tweaking my position (not so unusual but I’m not super quick to make body adjustments because it’s hard for me) and that’s caused me to struggle and fidget a bit since the last lesson. Roo does his best but it’s not always perfect circumstances for him.

My initial riding was no different than it’s been – a bit fussy. So things weren’t super together when Chris arrived. I asked about something I’d read in an article by Beth Baumert this week –“ forward half halts”. While I’m comfortable with the concept and reality of forward into transitions the term forward half halt made me pause. So, after getting the definition cleared up in my head (no slowing of the hind legs with soft and forward into the transition – up and down) we did a few. Okay, we tried a few. Mixed results. Must remember to keep pony’s inside hind leg under him more. Attempted a few more with a little better result but nothing spectacular.

At that point, Chris helped us on the ground with some half steps. Roo didn’t want Chris near him (smart pony knows he is asked to work much harder when Chris is on the ground). We did the half steps and the lift into the transitions came quickly. When Chris wanted to hand my whip back, Roo wasn’t having any of that. After many feet in reverse, he finally listened and let me take my whip. Sigh. I guess Roo’s not really into tough afternoon workouts~

Once Roo was again responding to my requests, we moved into a quick sequence of transitions to work on the forward half-halt concept. We were to canter with true outside connection (when lacking that connection, we were to do a volte until Roo moved into the outside connection softly), walk, and immediately go into half steps, and once half steps established, canter off. On the first attempt, Roo said, Hey, up there! No. Not gonna. You have lost your mind. He even put his hoof down! (That’s something he does when he’s not happy about what he’s being asked to do. LOL)  It took a bit of convincing but we got enough half steps to then canter off. We had to go through this series of transitions several times in each direction before we got anything worth noting. I also have to let go… When Roo tenses up, I tense up, and he tenses up – it’s a vicious cycle. Chris told me to let go. Wouldn’t you know, when I finally managed to let go, Roo suddenly went fine. There were moments of brilliance. I will focus on those but I have so many things to work on!

Take aways:

  • Work Roo in the morning
  • Insist on outside connection but LET GO, too
  • Likely that inside hip needs to be out/under just a little bit more
  • Sit up. Look up.
  • Trust your horse!

The Show Will Go On

I am soooo disappointed – disappointed in the circumstances and myself. Tomorrow Roo and I were supposed to be doing a dressage demo for the Mustang & Wild Horse Rescue of GA at the Ticket to Ride Benefit Horse Show benefiting who else but MWHR. It was the perfect scenario – a chance to get Roo out without pressure and a chance to show off a bit of Roo’s je ne sais quoi to help bring awareness to mustangs and what great sport horses they can be. But it’s not to be. The show will go on, of course, but without us.

Since being invited to be a demo rider, I’ve waffled between very honored and frighten stiff. That tends to be a norm for me when dealing with something not completely known or previously tried. Usually, the nerves stay until I get into the meaty part of whatever I’ve committed to and then confidence finds a way in. So the waffling wasn’t really a big deal and I have been making plans for a couple of months.

The disappointing aspects are

  • I didn’t deal with my aching back sooner. I let the niggling little pains go and go and go. It came to a very painful pinched nerve on Tuesday followed by getting jostled in the saddle on Wednesday which brought my lower back into spasm forcing me to reconsider all plans for the week.
  • We are not going which means we are letting friends and acquaintances down. I realize life happens and all that but I prefer to honor my commitments even if inconvenient.
  • Today’s adjustment went well but couldn’t completely take the nerve pain away – inflammation doesn’t go away instantly even when the irritant is gone.
  • Today’s ride attempt was painful. See 3. The ride was just long enough to walk, trot and canter to see if I’d be comfortable enough to make it to the demo. No such luck. While I had a better ride today than yesterday transitions were still tough.

Roo is a saint, though, and he listened so well. He got a bit revved up expecting to do canter lead changes but came back easily (saving my back since a wonky change helped cause my back ouch yesterday). Love my Super ‘Stang!

I’m hoping that anyone who was considering attending this show to see our demo attends anyway. Hocus Pocus and Caitlyn Bennet will do a dressage demo in our stead. They were to be our dressage demo partners but now they will fly solo representing mustangs well. Hocus has shown a lot and he and Caitlyn will show you that even a small ‘stang can dance to the music.

Ticket To Ride Benefit Horse Show

July 7-9
Wills Park
Wills Rd
Alpharetta, GA



Fun classes start at 4:00 PM
Tack sales starts at Noon
Dressage Demo will take place in the covered arena somewhere between 5 and 6.

Are You Riding Fit?

We have all heard or have experienced first-hand that off-horse fitness or cross-training helps you with posture, alignment, and correct movement patterns which helps you ride better, right? With that in mind, I signed up for the recent Kudzu Klinic held at Body Pros Physical Therapy Gym in Alpharetta, Georgia, with strength trainer Anna Anton*. When that Saturday dawned cold and blustery, I wasn’t in the mood to go outside let alone workout, but I was sharing a ride so I had to go.

Riding uses many muscle groups in the legs, abdominals, lower back, upper back and shoulders, chest, buttocks and arms. I have not owned my own horse for several years now. Although I’ve remained active with Pilates, Body Pump, and yoga classes, walking/hiking, and riding 1-2 days a week, I have definitely noticed a softening that wasn’t there when I owned and was riding more frequently. During the clinic we ran through a few standard exercises to learn proper form. It was harder than expected! With those few exercises, her obvious personal fitness level, and encouraging words, Anna Anton inspired me to look at my fitness and make some changes to my routine.

Anna is a proponent of weight training to increase strength, balance, and coordination. She’s not the only one. Most doctors agree that weight-bearing exercise (with the goal of building lean muscle mass) becomes increasingly important as we age. Increasing muscle mass can do many important things for the rider: protect joints and ligaments, spur one’s metabolism to burn more calories, help to prevent loss of bone density, increase energy, and (gasp) even boost a sagging libido!

Anna’s philosophy in training athletes is, “Whether your interest is in lacrosse, tennis, cross-country, or dressage, strength and fitness training is guaranteed to improve performance. As a long-time eventer and horse trainer, I have personally experienced the benefits of weight training. At 48, I’m in the best shape of my life! I tell my clients to just show up. That’s half the battle.”

A recent episode of The Doctors focused on losing belly fat**, but the main recommendations coincide with Anna’s. Anna suggests working out three to five times a week to make significant improvements in your fitness and therefore your riding. GDCTA ( has posted Anna’s recommended Ground Exercises for the Rider on the website on the Education/Kudzu Klinic page. While there are some exercises listed, there are no weight or repetitions listed. We discussed what would be ideal and the results were that a good warm up for your workout would start with:

  • Jumping rope
  • Jumping jacks
  • Full sit ups (rather than add reps, add weights when this becomes easy)
  • Full push ups (no on-the-knees push ups – if full push ups are too hard, start with incline push ups against the wall or a solid surface; if full push ups are really easy and you want more of a challenge, use a stability ball)
  • Side plank with hip dips (remember to do both sides!)
  • Wall Sit or squats
  • Standing lunges
  • Pull ups (you can start with under bar pull ups to build strength)

The Doctors recommendations focused on the core incorporating Plank and Side Plank (holding each for 15 seconds and repeating) combined with the high intensity workout of your choice, 30 minutes at least three times per week, to “torch” the fat away.

Another key factor in fitness is nutrition. While not a nutritionist, Anna suggests a several small meals a day, high-protein, low carb diet (very difficult with my penchant for pastry!) to help build muscle. Your body needs protein to build muscle. Muscle burns calories all the time. Plenty of lean muscle is a good thing to have in my opinion! The Doctors also touched on diet, suggesting three smaller meals plus two or three light snacks. The foods they recommended for a lean belly were beans, whole eggs, berries, dairy, and whole grain. Also, remember to stay hydrated! Dr. Travis Stork said that if you drink eight glasses of ice water per day, you can burn 500 more calories per week. Admittedly, that’s easier to do here in Georgia in the summer than the winter, but the idea of burning more calories with no effort on my part is appealing.

Horseback riding requires a huge amount of strength, balance, and muscle control. In short, fitness for equestrians is important. At the time of writing, it’s only been a couple of weeks of high intensity working out for me. I hope to remain diligent. Check back with me in a few months to see how I’m doing. (May update: I am pleased to report that I have been working out with weights fairly regularly since that cold February day–positive changes are occurring!)

Before starting any exercise program or diet it is recommended to check with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Need more inspiration? The experts weigh in…

“A good piece of advice to all who want to ride well, and who wish to acquire a good position, would be to do gymnastic exercises, which give suppleness, ease, and sureness in riding… Only the rider who is free from any contraction will have a horse equally free from contraction.”

~Nuno Oliveira, Reflections On Equestrian Art

“As in most athletic endeavors, the rider must develop the seemingly contradictory qualities of relaxation and strength… If you can’t discipline your own body, you cannot discipline your horse.”

~Charles de Kunffy

“Everyone who rides should incorporate a cross-training program and proper nutrition in their regimen to stay fit and healthy and prevent injury… Riding alone does not provide the fitness required for performance, especially if you only ride occasionally. Like any other sport, riding requires that other athletic activities be added to the mix.”

~Mary D. Midkiff Fitness, Performance and the Female Equestrian

“Many people expect self-carriage from the horse when they themselves have failed to attain this. The rider’s body is like a balancing pole to the horse. A loose, flaccid body gives little support; similarly, a tight one restricts movement.”

~Sylvia Loch and Richenda van Laun, Flexibility and Fitness for Riders

“What does it take to be a successful competitive rider?.. If you want to be a successful rider, you must train hard and intelligently in the saddle… However, intensive riding is not all you can do to become a better rider. By improving your physical and mental fitness you can utilize more of your full athletic potential to further develop your riding skills… Achieving a higher degree of fitness will make your reactions quicker and your cues more precise.”

~Tom Holmes, The New Total Rider

“How many times have you blamed your horse for being disobedient, when, in fact, the problem stems from a lack of control of your own body or because you’re sitting crookedly when you give an aid? If you give your aids from an unsteady, crooked, or uncentered position, those signals can’t be as clear and effective as aids that are given from a fit body and a stable seat. It might not be glamorous to work on your position or your fitness, but the rewards are well worth it. Your horse will thank you!”

~Jane Savoie,

*Anna Anton, 678-595-3909 /

**Dr. Travis’ Secrets To Losing Your Gut For Good! February 1, 2012