Thursday, June 21, 2012

Horses, Triathlon, and a Meet-Up

I met up with my triathlete Facebook friend Kristin from Ohio! We only knew each other online, but she and I have similar pasts, coming from horses to triathlon. She was passing through town and one quick wall comment led to an in-person dinner meet-up. (See, I do eat out sometimes, especially when I am in one of my insatiable-appetite phases. Which is most of the time, but definitely right now.)

We talked about the all-consuming nature of horses, not to mention the crazy expenses!! At least in triathlon, bikes don't need to be boarded.

Earlier in the week I rode my bike up in Charlottesville, Virginia, past the Barracks, Foxfield, and other famous show barns and horsey areas. For all the manicured arenas, barns, fields, and pretty painted jumps, I never saw a horse being ridden, but I probably saw half a dozen people on bikes.

On my ride I had a flashback to my Pony Club days when I was probably 14 or 15 and had to design and write an "interval training" program for my horse. I distinctly remember having no idea of what interval training really meant or what was behind it and thinking this was the dumbest thing to have to do.

I went down to the basement and darn if I didn't still have the thing in a box of Pony Club keepsakes! This was from 30 years ago!! As a kid, we didn't do interval training with our horses, we just rode. I think I knew enough not to jump two days in a row, and knew my horse needed a day off a week but that was as scientific as it got.

Fast forward 30 years, and I finally get it! Interval training does work, but it took a coach writing it and me doing it to appreciate the benefits.

It's funny what comes full circle. It used to be the horse taking glucosamine and it's me. I used to worry about the horse coming up lame or colicky before a show, now it's me. We'd tweak the shoes to get the best movement - clips, bars, pads; now it's me needing just the right heel drop, arch support, and flexibility.

Horses taught me a lot about patience, perseverance, and heart. But as I sit here procrastinating (blogging) when I should be packing and getting my head into Saturday's triathlon, I'm glad it's only ME I have to pack for and not the horse, trailer, feed, equipment, and accoutrements!


  1. I know you knew I'd have to comment on this post. LOVE the old picture of you and your trusty. The PC project cracked me up. I used to work for PC at their national office and saw all kinds of crazy things like that but I was always really impressed with the fact that they strove to get the kids thinking.

    I am sitting in the camper right now, getting ready to go in for another night of braiding and training a helper. It's amazing to me how much the horse world has changed. Now I deal with million dollar animals competing at the highest levels, but I still love seeing that one intrepid junior willing to get up early, braid their own, and muck a stall to be able to afford to show. The odds are stacked against them but they will no doubt take the most home from the experience. Kind of reminds me of another sport....

    On the upside... horses wear out their $500 (yes, that is how much they cost now!) shoes every 6 weeks. At least ours last a little longer!!

    1. Pony Club taught me how to study, how to inquire, how to learn. I still say that the multi-day H-A rating was the hardest thing I have done - far more difficult than defending a dissertation. It is a great organization and that must have been a neat job.

      $500 for shoes? Yeah I don't think I could afford to get back into the sport now! I'd also be cheering for the hard-working self-supporting junior you described!

    2. I won't even get into what I charge for braids... It is a very expensive sport, the Sport of Kings for sure. No matter how much you spend on a bicycle, it is still cheap by equine standards and the thing won't eat you out of house and home.

      One of the best parts of moving to Texas has been being able to work with some old fashioned, down to earth, do it yourself-ers. That's what I was and they have my undying respect. I have worked with some of the best in the world, including a half a dozen Olympians, and what separates the best is the work ethic. That self-supporting Junior is learning the one skill that can't be bought.

  2. Horses will DEFINITELY teach you patience!! I volunteered at a horse rescue and let's just say *I* got taken for a ride by a very sneaky, cunning, and POWERFUL 17-hand Hanoverian. Nobody got hurt but I was lost in the woods for a few hours. haha!

    I wish I was involved in Pony Club - it seems like such a great activity for kids.