Are my shorts on upside down? Ten years ago, this same pair was tight in the legs and big in the waist. Midlife can be so cruel.

by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) Order it now at!

What’s up with this change in my body structure that, number one, confirms I have entered that “certain age” and, number two, means twiggy legs and flappy triceps can’t be too far behind? Is this cruel reshaping really necessary? Unavoidable?

“NO!” Say the experts I consulted to build Chapter Four of my new book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. This chapter , entitled “Leg Up!” deals with the specific conditioning required to be effective with a horse — and, incidentally, could quite easily put us int he best shape of our lives.

The nice thing about this “exercise program” is that our horse chores are such necessary tasks we often don’t realize what a workout we’re getting. With a little awareness and a tiny bit of tweaking of our “horsekeeping” routines, we can be on the road to rock-star fitness without even realizing it. (This reminds me of a stretch of time when I was desensitizing Trace to the saddle by throwing it on him 100 times a day. If he hadn’t gotten bored with it and given up his goofiness, I could have had an upper body like Wonder Woman!)

And beyond the obvious fitness benefits that ride the coattails of barn chores like tossing bales, toting water buckets and mucking stalls, guess what else is packed quietly into this sneaky midlife fitness regimen?

Check out these Chapter Four factoids:

An hour of trotting burns 400-600 calories (in your body, not the horse’s!)

Mounting a horse uses every single muscle in your hips and legs

Just sitting on a horse simulates an extended squat, constantly working quads, hamstrings, abductors and aductors — simultaneously!

(I didn’t see any stats on how many calories sitting on a bucking horse burns— not to mention yanking him in circles until we’re both a bit dizzy— but I know it has given me jaw muscles like a pit bull. Probably not a good thing.)

So with all this fitness in mind, I’m off to the barn to ramp up my routine (in what they’re calling the second hottest Texas summer on record. I try not to pay attention to the counters, but I think I heard this is the 16th straight day of 100+ degree heat.) Maybe copious sweating will help right these upside-down shorts.

So . . .Fitness after 50?  Just another gift we receive at the hooves of our midlife horses! I’ve included in the book a number of ideas for making the most of this built-in (if a little unwitting) fitness program, from specific exercises I discovered to interesting ways of combating this disturbing “flab phenomenon.” I’ve  shared what I found to get motivated enough to reap yet another surprising benefit of the midlife horse experience. Now it’s your turn.

I know I didn’t even scratch the surface of good ideas in this area. What’s your horse fitness strategy? If you have any good fitness amping tips, suggestions or strategies, please share them with the growing Smart Womans Guide to Midlife Horses Community! Just post a comment in reply  either here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter or LinkedIn. And, if  you have a photo or video of some good horse-related fitness routines or strategies, send them to me and I’ll post them on Flickr or our You Tube channel! Camera phones welcome! It’s all about helping each other keep it right side up!

Midlife News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses


  1. Susan Williams says:

    This is truely a remarkable book !! A must read ,for everyone, from the begginer to someone who has been riding your whole life, you will get alot out of this book!! enjoy !!

  2. Susan Williams says:

    This book can also be read by a GUY , title reads Woman , but it is geared to anyone that loves horses !

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