Happy Trailering, Part 2-Tight Spaces

Happy Trailering, Part 2-Tight Spaces

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First of all, thanks to all who responded to Trailering, Part 1! As I suspected, there are some great tips and kindred spirits out there, and I am so glad to provide a place and space to make those connections. Keep ’em coming! (And let’s keep these discussion threads going! A funny and unexpectedly related trailering incident happened this past week to my friend and Pilates instructor, Cassandra Thompson. As with many of us, Cassandra was bitten by the “horse bug” many years ago and has made one life transition after another until now this Manhattan Pilates instructor has uprooted her urban life and moved it (along with her 88-year-old father) all the way to Texas. And, having lived in Manhattan for so long, she’s only been driving a car for the past three years! Since coming to Texas (and logging lots of miles behind the wheel traveling between DFW Metroplex Pilates studios before she opened her own), she has bought Murphy, a handsome, charming, and true-to-his breed Connemara pony, a big black truck, and just a few weeks ago, a trailer. So last week, after the long-awaited-and-carefully-shopped-for trailer finally arrived (that’s a whole ‘nother story we’ll circle back to in a later post), she began the tentative process of learning to pull the thing. And, in the particularly harrowing morning she called me to relate, a backing incident that led to a close encounter with a tree (no real harm done . . . a little dab of paint and no one will ever know) made clear to her the need for lots of solitary practice (I think there was maybe a little too much fatherly advice flowing that only served to aggravate the situation) in a controlled, protected and obstacle free space to get the feel and timing of the whole backing and maneuvering skills likely required once you get to where you’re going with your trailer. So for today, I ask, beyond the great “put your hand at the bottom of the wheel and whichever direction your hand goes, so does the back end of the trailer” adage, what other tips, tricks, and experiences can you guys share to help create some good “back-that-thang-up” practice sessions for those learning to maneuver a trailer in tight spaces for the first time? What about turning in narrow city intersections without taking out the entire line of cars you’re supposed to be turning around? These are the issues that keep the trailerphobic among us up at night. We need practice ideas. And maybe some orange cones. Also, as if in answer to my question the other day, I got a link via email to an Equine Network E-zine called, of all things Hitch Up!? . . . an online magazine all about trailer safety, with tons of tips from nationally recognized trainers and clinicians. (Who knew?!!! Click here to subscribe!) Cassandra, by the way, will be one of the ones joining us next weekend as part of my panel discussion in the AmerEquine Festival of the Horse Expo at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. (We’ll be on the John Justin arena seminar stage Friday 5:30-6:15 and Saturday 1:30-2:15, so please come and tell us about your horse! There will be chocolate, as long as the supply holds out . . . Just sayin’ . . .) Cassandra will be addressing the physical aspects of why riding and working with horses on a regular basis is not only good for our souls, but GREAT for our bodies, especially if we take the time to “set the stage” with core work that reaches deep to benefit all parts of our lives. Or, as she likes to say, “we get strong because we have to be!” The horse side of the Pilates equation is relatively new to Cassandra, and the connections she has made as a former dancer and Stotz Certified Pilates instructor with the physical demands of horsemanship has helped her find that “sweet spot” where passion meets profession.

My object with this appearance is to connect as many people as possible with different kinds of stories and experiences to celebrate (hence the chocolate) all the things that make having a horse in our lives one of the very best things we’ve ever done! I’ll also be in the Equine Network booth in the exhibit hall Friday through Sunday, so please come by and say hi!
Happy Trailering! I look forward to gathering and sharing more great trailering wisdom!

This post was originally published by Equisearch.com

Happy Trailering, Part 1

Happy Trailering, Part 1

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

Is anyone but me getting desperate for a trailer? I love where I keep my horses, and I know everything is just as it should be right now, horse accommodation wise. But I’m feeling kind of arena locked and claustrophobic. If only I had a trailer (and, oh, wait, a big ol’ truck, because I drive a Mini), I could load up and go to the Grasslands — or even a few closer trails — for an afternoon in the great big, rail-less outdoors. And as good as I know this would be for my horses’ minds, I know it would be even better for mine. There’s just something magical about a trail ride for clearing everyone’s mind and recharging your soul. But do you know what worries me about having a trailer? Pulling it. Once before when I was on a serious trailer quest, and again while researching the Trailering chapter for The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, I ran across the same thing time and again. Everyone says how “easy” it is to pull a trailer. They think it’s comforting to tell me “you won’t even know it’s back there!” That, my friends, is precisely what I’m afraid of. For people who have grown up hauling horses, pulling a trailer (and backing it!) is second nature. They honestly don’t know what the big deal is. Or why I’m so wigged out. They scoff at my need for formal instruction (beyond the trailer salesman who offers to “take me out back and show me” how to pull a trailer.) Something tells me this is a skill that can’t be learned in one 30-minute session. I want rules, instruction, safety procedures and practice opportunities. But guess what? If a six-week trailer pulling course is out there (besides truck driver school) I sure haven’t found it. I understand and appreciate that those who have pulled trailers a lot are walking around with knowledge inside them they don’t even know is there. But when trouble shows up, they reach for it and it’s there to help them figure out what to do. On the other hand, if I’m pulling a trailer full of horses and get into trouble (blowout, bad weather, horrible high speed traffic, some jerk cuts me off or stops suddenly without warning) I’d reach for that instinct born of knowledge and experience and come up empty handed. And most likely, hysterical. So as I begin this “happy trailering” series of posts, I invite your participation and response. What are your trailering questions and concerns? What worries you most when you’re pulling a trailer? How did you learn (or how do you plan to learn) to pull a trailer? And for heaven’s sake, if you’re one of those folks who has hauled a lot, please share any insights, tips and wisdom you can put your finger on to help keep the rest of us from becoming road hazards! Here’s to Happy Trailering!

 

This post was originally published by Equisearch.com

What does a horse say? Sometimes, it turns out, it’s the horse doing the whispering.

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If you answered “Neigh!” to the opening question, you’re right, of course. (You’re also right if you’ve been talking to my horses and the answer is “Nay.”)

However, I’m coming to the understanding that if we’ll let them, horses can say a whole lot more. (Have I gone even weirder on you?  Maybe. But probably not.)

We hear a lot about “horse whisperers.” And we’ve had a wonderful opportunity lately to get reacquainted with this concept with Buck  Brannaman’s Buck the Movie. (Did anyone else get this one for Christmas?I’m so glad to have my own copy!!)

So in keeping with all this, I’ve been playing around lately with the idea of equine assisted learning and animal communication. My research and interviews for The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses led me to cross paths with lots of these people and dug up enough compelling information to make me want to delve further into these areas. (This, of course, spawned a new idea I can’t wait to tell you about, but it’s still in its incubation, so stay tuned!)

Last week, I enlisted the help of a friend of mine we’ll call Mary. That’s not her real name. If I used her real name in this story there’s a good chance she’ll cease being my friend. And an even better chance that everyone who knows me will then take a much wider circle around me to escape having any conversation we have become blog fodder. So if you know me personally, be advised that what you say can and will be used for the common good in my blog, but I will always protect your privacy. Then if at some point you want to claim the story as your own, we can give you a proper introduction.

Like so many of us, Mary has an affinity for horses that reaches back to her childhood and early adolescence. Then, grown up responsibilities and family rearing took her far away from any thought of horses — except, of course, for the occasional fond flashback whenever the subject of horses came up. She’s very grounded, centered and self-aware, possibly the most balanced human I know. These factors (plus a little curiosity on her part) made her the perfect candidate for one of my favorite journaling exercises in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses.

So here’s what happened. We went out to where my horses are stabled and I got them both out, along with all their brushes and combs. Then I invited her to pick one and brush him. I assumed she’d pick Rio because of his sweet clownish face and docile demeanor. She admitted to being a little nervous about handling horses because some of her memories, come to think of it, weren’t that fond.

So she went straight to Trace. Go figure. His head was stuck way up in the air in what Clinton would definitely classify as his “unsure zone.” In fact, I could almost just see the whites of his eyes. Not a good thing, and I can tell you if she had made a sudden move or sneezed loudly he probably would have come unglued.

I watched as they sized each other up, noting as I did the gentleness of how she brushed him. She didn’t talk; just brushed. Pretty soon his head started to come out of the clouds and the softness returned to his eyes.

“You know, I thought I would choose that one,” she said, pointing to Rio, “but for some reason I feel more drawn to this one.” She patted Trace gently on the neck. His head shot straight up, the wary look returning. We laughed. “He does scare me a little, though, so I’m not sure why I’m choosing him.”

Don’t I know that feeling? I thought to myself.  Trace, you may remember, is my first midlife horse, the one  that came to me from the group of milling geldings when I wasn’t even looking for a horse. The one who has tried my patience to the cellular level and my soul even more, and yet for some reason, I just can’t give up on him. And, in all fairness, it’s been worth it.

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses came from a perfect storm of my struggles with Trace, my resulting introduction to Downunder Horsemanship, and then all the Midlife Horse stories I heard and got to write about when I worked for Clinton Anderson.  Seeing the difference finding my best solutions made in my own midlife horses journey — and from what I learned and observed firsthand as Clinton’s head writer as I helped him write his best selling Lessons Well Learned and dozens of articles and training tips — I knew I wanted to share what I learned with others as desperate for this information as I was starting out. All because of a persnickerty horse.

For all my trials created at the hooves of this horse, he’s  made me a better rider, a more aware rider, and a person who has had to learn (with a lot of help) how to walk through fear to find that “calm courage” Martha Beck describes, and this has helped me in many aspects of my life, on and off the horse.

Every horse has something special to teach us — and I now believe that when you open yourself, on whatever level you choose, to midlife horses,  the horse that appears in our life (and believe me, you’ll know it when it happens) is the one sent to teach us something we need to know to heal ourselves of whatever is still bugging us here in the halftime of our lives.

So, going back to Mary, after she was finished brushing Trace and combing his mane, we dragged a chair into the pen and she sat down with her journal to do the “Awaken Your Horse Sense” exercise (found on page 15 of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses). I left the two of them alone (but occasionally peeked, once to see Trace rolling, once to see him walk up to her and nibble at her pen and the edges of her journal and her sleeve. (I should probably stop giving him carrots.)

Then, hearing Mary laughing out loud, I looked just in time to see her walking across the pen — and Trace prancing along beside her, head protectively curved around in front of her, looking at her square on. I wish I had been quick enough to get a picture of this for you, because it was profound to me even before I heard the story behind it.

Here’s what Mary had to say afterward: “I started writing, just mundane journaling stuff . . . you know, trying to get started just by writing anything that came into my mind, just like the exercise instructs,” she said. At that point Trace was totally ignoring me. Sniffing the ground, facing the opposite direction. I kept writing, just this and that, observations, what I thought of this exercise, random thoughts about journaling. Then he dropped to his knees and rolled in the dirt. That was kind of funny, so I chuckled a little bit and he got up and walked toward me. I went back to journaling my observations and he turned away and walked to the far end of the pen.

“Then some stuff started coming to me that was a little more personal, engaging my emotions and some internal questioning. He then turned and walked straight toward me, coming to stop with his head right in front of my notebook. What’s he doing? I thought. I wasn’t afraid, but looking back on that now I can’t imagine why I wasn’t. Then he started nibbling at my pen. Does he think it’s a carrot? I wondered, remembering that Melinda said he likes carrots. I noticed how big his teeth were, but again, without any fear. He was clearly playing with me.

“I tried to ignore him and continue writing, wanting to finish writing the thought I had before he came over to me. He nibbled the edges of my pages and then a singe word came into my mind: “Play!!!” I wrote this word, including the three exclamation points, and he then dragged his nose right across where I was writing, leaving a big smudge. I  laughed out loud. This horse is telling me to play! I thought.

“So I got up from my chair and just started walking, He came right up beside me and sort of wrapped his head and neck around me, kind of like a protective hug and he was prancing and looking me right in the eye.

“I immediately understood that the message from this horse was that I need to play more. I do a lot of fun things, but it’s all with structure and purpose and  intended outcome. I never just play. I’m not sure I even remember how. So I guess he was trying to show me. Here in this pen with this horse, I laughed out loud with no idea of where we were going or what we were trying to do.  It was the pure joy that comes from pure play.”

So, midlife sisters, I challenge you now: Go get that journal and find a horse (preferably one you don’t know, but you can do it with your own horse if you’d rather). And, with the owner’s permission, of course, go sit with that horse and just write, as fast as you can, anything that comes to mind for as long as you can make yourself sit there. (10 minutes is a good start. As is three pages of full sized notebook paper. Whatever gets you to sit there and just write. Don’t try to direct, connect or analyze the thoughts that come to you as you sit there. Just write. It may take you a while to get going, as it did Mary. But do what she did and just write EXACTLY what you’re thinking. Even if it’s “I think this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Just keep writing your thoughts. You may be surprised at what bubbles up.

And if you’re willing, post your most surprising thoughts here, on our Facebook page,  Twitter, or YouTube. (As one animal communicator explained, pay special attention to the random thoughts that don’t seem to have anything to do with anything. The ones that don’t make any sense at all at first are often the deepest and most profound revelations, once you dig into them deeply enough.) If you’d prefer to be anonymous, but still want to share something amazing, please just email your story to me and I promise a cloak of invisibility around what you have to share.

I can’t wait to read more stories like Mary’s — and with your help, to make people aware of the magic than can come from journaling with a horse.

Happy Trails!

 

Did you get an E-reader this holiday season? Midlife horse owners embrace searchable horse info!

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I’ve heard (but I can’t remember where) that the E-reader was the most received gift this holiday season. And yes, great competition now abounds to the tried-and-true Kindle (now with its new Fire incarnation), and these puppies are all getting more affordable, easier to use and, offering us the options of searchable content and a way to bookmark and clip the ideas, thoughts and sections we want to remember from what we read, may just keep the margins of print books free of scrawled notes that mean little to anyone but us (Does anyone beside me read non-fiction with a pencil in one hand and a highlighter in the other?)

So what does this cultural phenomenon have to do with The Smart Guide to Midlife Horses? Everything, apparently. Here’s what our publisher had to say that made me do the holiday happy dance:

“Melinda Folse’s bestseller THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES is surely ushering in a new generation of horse-related books. Her book’s appeal to the readers of ebooks—considered by some to be the future of book publishing—is apparent as sales in digital format have skyrocketed! We are thrilled that the book’s message and content translates so well across multiple platforms, print and digital. Melinda’s book is one of the first of its kind to offer great educational content, along with great stories and a few laughs, in a format suitable for the midlife woman on the move.”

So, speaking from one cultural phenomenon (Boomer women and their Midlife Horses) to another (the proliferation of e-readers) all I have to say is WooHoooooooo! And of course, thank you to all who purchased my book this year — in its print or digital format (I’ve heard several people say they bought it both ways because it’s faster to find specific information and resources with the searchable feature of the e-book, but they still prefer the print version to sit and read).

If you’d like to purchase The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses for your new Kindle, click here. Got a different E-reader? No worries, as our friend Clinton Anderson would say. Click here to purchase The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses in other e-book formats.

And speaking of Clinton, while you’re there, be sure to check out Clinton Anderson’s Lessons Well Learned, also now available in e-book formats! Getting to co-write this book with Clinton was one of the best assignments a horse crazy aspiring author could ever hope for — and Clinton’s stories and experiences with horses and people are as fascinating and enlightening as they are entertaining!

So . . . now what? As this fabulous year draws to a close, I’m catching my breath a bit, getting more content loaded on my newly revamped website, and planning a 2012 blog calendar filled with tips, resources, ideas and insights to help make 2012 your Year of the (Midlife) Horse.

Want to come along? Subscribe to this blog (comments always welcome!), shoot me an email, join our Facebook community, give us a Tweet, or share on our YouTube channel when something interesting happens or occurs to you on the Midlife Horses trail. Above all, please feel free to share your victories, challenges, questions and observations with the diverse online community we’re gathering here. It’s your life, Part Two! With Horsepower!

Happy New Year!

Rally point! This woman needs a horsekeeping pro con list. Post your board vs. home preference and why.

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Here’s something that came in via email (posted here with permission because I think this is a big issue that might stir up some great conversation and insights, either here or in our Facebook community! I’d love to hear what you guys have to say — and so would she!

Here’s the issue (identity and confidentiality protected, but the facts are common to many of us!).

She writes:

“I am weighing the possibilities of horse ownership, and it appears that the biggest obstacle for me is the way my husband feels about my dream of paying off our house, selling, and moving to a place out in the country were I can keep my midlife horse on our property.  He finds the whole thing stressful and overwhelming, not only because of all of the work involved, but because of the cost of another house and of horse ownership in general.  I am an idealist and feel we could do it if we try. What do you think is the best way to handle this skeptical husband issue?  I know it’s a loaded question.  I guess I just need a pep talk.”

So reaching out to all you wonderful Midlife Horses pep talkers out there, it’s time for us to rally here and help this woman think this issue all the way through. Her challenge is to figure out what’s most important to her and what will make the most sense to her — throughout her whole life, not just the horsey part.. Anyone want to weigh in with some navigational tips for this sticky issue? Any fellas out there have something to say?

I totally get both sides of this issue —  and to some extent, I live it myself. I adore the community I belong to at the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club and am thrilled with the great care my horses get there. I can’t say enough nice things about the wonderful friends I’ve met there, the good horse company we share, and the joy of having such a beautiful place to go (especially when i need a quick escape!) to immerse myself in the horse world. (If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to check out my new video on this topic!) HOWEVER, I also would dearly love to walk out my back door in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and say hello to Trace and Rio before I start my day (or talk to any humans). I’d love to be able to watch them in the pasture behind my imaginary house and just hang with them sometimes with no agenda or timeline. AND YET,  I also love NOT having to muck stalls, haul shavings, dispose of manure, fix fences, mow, brush hog, plow, scrub troughs.( I have a hard enough time staying ahead of the rolling dustbunnies in my dining room and running the occasional mop over my perpetually grody kitchen floor.) With my work schedule and busy family life, I can’t imagine adding another full-time job to an already overflowing plate. It just might take the fun out of the whole thing.

Thoughts, insights, advice, or observations from any of you out there on either side of this sticky fence? Let us hear from you! (Free Rio T-shirt to first three posters!). Post your comments here, on our Facebook page (and while you’re there, give us a “like” if you haven’t already! ) Or retweet your support and ideas whenever you see this pop up on my Twitter feed, or share a video that illustrates your point on  our YouTube channel.

 

Happy Trails!

A big thank you to Colonial Country Club Ladies Luncheon Series for inviting me to be their August speaker!

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At first, I wondered what I would talk about with this crowd, a group more accustomed to hosting style shows, politicos, and noted experts in something or other as their speakers. I’m no expert, but I have written about a lot of interesting things and people, so I decided to go with that. In the mix, of course, I got to talk about the creation of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, and all the unexpectedly synchronistic ideas, people and experiences that came together to result in this book.

One interesting thing I’m discovering in almost every group I speak to (formally and informally), is that while many are intrigued by the idea of Midlife Horses, they also relate to the metaphorical side of this book — and there’s always a handful whose eyes light up with the easily recognizable glow of old “horse dreams,” and I’m pretty sure they go home with the full intention of, as Koelle Simpson puts it, “bringing a little equine energy into their lives.”

 

Want to watch a horse diagnose CEO disease?

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Ok, this is just plain funny. If you remember that old Hans Christian Anderson fable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,”  (and I’ll just bet you do) . . . and if you’ve ever spent any time in or around a corporate setting, you’ve most likely seen firsthand the condition some business analysts call “CEO Disease.”

This is a rampant condition where no one in the workplace is willing, for fear of reprimand, political fallout, or worse, job loss, to confront an ineffective or counterproductive leader. Instead, they just follow along, doing their tasks as assigned, and at the same time, each doing his or her part in letting the company drift  from its core purpose.

I have been fascinated in recent conversations with HerdWise CEO Kathy Taylor about how equine assisted learning can reveal the dynamics of work teams, uncover surprising blocks to productive relationships that hinder corporate leaders, and even demonstrate in an unforgettable way how different leadership styles are needed to meet the needs of the team and the objective of the task at hand. By mimicking the energy of a leader, horses mirror workplace dynamics in graphic, unforgettable and often, humorous ways.

 

But by far the funniest and most telling thing I ever saw was this video of a CEO “leading” his team in their effort to get Kathy’s therapy horse, Roxy, over a pole in the center of a pen. This is especially funny if you know that Roxy has no qualms about walking over that pole. It’s a task she often does easily and willingly. But she clearly sees though this guy and no amount of “leading”  — or coaxing or cajoling (and I believe there might have even been a trail mix bar bribe involved) will get Roxy over that pole.

Watch also how his team follows him around and defers to his ineffective antics. One lady gives a half-hearted attempt to support his effort by trying to block Roxy from leaving, and she even tries to reinforce his instruction by pointing the way they want Roxy to go. This is clearly a work team accustomed to following its leader, even when what he’s doing is not accomplishing the team’s overall goal.

 

Thoughts, anyone? Humorous narration? Funniest narrative comment gets a free t-shirt!

 

Happy Trails!

 

Want to develop some mad core strength? Trot around for two hours on a snippy horse. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

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Just got back in from a two hour ride that turned into four — and grueling trot-a-thon on Trace and a bend-o-rama on Rio that has my core muscles quivering like Santa’s legendary bowlful of jello. You just never realize the need for well-developed core strength until you’ve trotted around in circles for two hours on a snippy horse, followed by another hour and a half on my passive aggressive sweetie pie that much prefers leaning to bending, whose cantering is more like a ride on Six Flags Over Texas’ Runnaway Mine Train than the slow, easy circles of my dreams.

 

Hobbling back to the cool comfort of my twirly desk chair, I just decided to go back and re-read Chapter Four, “Leg Up!” of my recently released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses . When I was writing the book, I realized through countless conversations with other women like me that one of the biggest challenges to midlife horsemanship is getting and staying fit to ride. Not only does this kind of conditioning make sense for improving our overall health and wellbeing, but when it comes to riding and working with our horses, it is crucial to be strong enough to be effective, keep ourselves safe,  have a good time, and above all, keep coming back for more!

 

And, perfectly timed with today’s epiphany, there was a nice reference to this chapter on Rebecca’s TSB Riding Adventures July 27 blog post, titled “The Working Rider’s Workout,” as she prepares for a Wyoming Ranch ride (Yee Haww, Becca! You go, girl! I just learned the other day that dressage is like crack–more on that later– and I can’t wait to see if Becca finds the same is true about chasing cows!) Let’s stay tuned to this one and see how it comes out!)

 

Any others of you out there have a neat destination ride planned this year? Let us hear from you! We love to be inspired — and sometimes, live vicariously. Also, look for my upcoming post on some great fall rides I just learned about from a new friend who has personally done them all and can give us some great inside information on a surprising “trail culture” cropping up out there for trail enthusiasts across the nation.

 

And, as for getting that “core of jello” I’m sporting these days a little more solidified so I can be more effective in future trot-a-thons and bend-o-ramas, stay tuned for more info and exercises as I go back this coming month and revisit (and actually consistently DO) all those great core building exercises I tucked into Chapter Four of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. Anyone out there want to do them with me? Anybody up for a little spirited “core building competition?”

 

Let me hear from you!

 

 

Happy Trails!

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

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.

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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!

Thanks, Dallas Morning News, for a fun interview and shoot! Look for the story in Our Town July 25!

Book info News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

It’s a darned good thing I didn’t know that was a Pulitzer winning photographer taking my picture this morning to go with Kathleen Green’s upcoming Dallas Morning News Article featuring The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. THAT would have made me nervous. But quite to the contrary, our early morning photo shoot with crackerjack photographer Robert Hart was nothing but fun!

The horses behaved admirably, the blistering Texas heat had yet to fully wake up for another 100+ degree day day, and I’m not sure, but I think Robert got some photos he liked. (He said that when a photographer makes the “ooh oooh oooh” monkey noise, it’s a good thing. Did I mention he won a Pulitzer? Although I’m fairly camera shy and highly self-critical, I’m guardedly optimistic about this one.)

As one not accustomed to being on this side of the interview or camera, I’ll have to say it was a little weird at first. But, just like the Horse Radio Network “Horses in the Morning” radio interview last week, once I get started talking about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, all weirdness faded into my genuine enthusiasm for sharing this book.

You know the best thing about writing this book? Because it came from my own personal midlife horse quest — and because I built it to be a resource guide for readers to use as a springboard for finding their own answers, the ideas, connections, and useful information just keeps flowing my way!

That’s why I’m so glad we’re building this comunity — a gathering place where we can all pool our ideas, stories and experiences — and just generally bask in the fun and camaraderie the  whole Midlife Horse experience can bring! (I’m looking into adding a virtual margarita machine . . .)

If you haven’t done it already, please visit (and “Like”!) our Facebook page and join the conversations growing there! Id love to hear from you any time something on this blog strikes a familiar chord — and, if you have pictures of you and your horse, advice to share, funny video, or favorite quotes, if you send ’em, I’ll post ’em! We’ve built  an exciting social media hub that includes this blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flickr.

Tell your friends! Come back often! Happy trails!