One of the reasons I’m excited for the (possible? impending?) move to new grazing is the landscape. In fact, that’s the main reason. Even if I preferred my current yard, I feel that the horse will benefit from the change and it’s her requirements that matter most.
The land is undulating. Just gently, but roughly, and enough (I think) to contribute to postural stability and wellness.
I’ve been inspired by so much of the work Intrinzen are sharing on Instagram, and I’m loving the management ideas and core exercises from people like Gillian Higgins and Hilary Clayton. But some of it is to replace what’s lost in keeping horses in domestic settings. I’m thrilled to have the option of throwing the horse out onto land which will be ever-so-slightly more “natural” and conducive to healthy movement.
That said, I have ordered a cheap 2″ thick gymnastics mat (as inspired by Intrinzen) to incorporate into Skye’s activities with me. If she fancies it. I can well believe that subtle challenges to balance can have a profound effect deep down, regardless of whether you can “see” it from the outside or not.
When we moved onto the boat, my right knee (injured three years prior and never quite right) improved dramatically. It’s not perfect, never will be, crunches all the time… But it’s stable enough and has potential to improve further, if only I could make myself get to the gym! And there you have it. Enforced exercise is not motivating, and I’ve never been one who could make myself do something I didn’t want to do. But make it part of your everyday life… part of your natural environment… well, then it happens as a side-effect. The boat sways when you walk through it. So lightly that I forget until a visitor points it out. To board (or leave), I have to extend my stride just slightly to reach from towpath to stern as I don’t have a plank (I’d rather trust my own feet!), and walking through the bedroom and engine room to get out involves a couple of high steps, which helped hugely with the ability of my muscles to support my knees. I’d been feeling weak, feeble, and as though I was on a downwards slope to constant discomfort (in my early thirties!), and the boat changed that just for the tiny bit of extra physical challenge it presented to my deeper stability. Volunteering with horses then improved all that further, and I’m hoping that having Skye will ultimately level up my strength and stability once again. Your environment matters.
I clocked three miles more than I would have yesterday, on account of taking Skye out for a walk. Would I have gone for a walk by myself to make myself get the exercise? Tired after volunteering and sore from camping on hard ground the week before? No. But there was a fun motivator, so I did.
So I’m excited for things to come. Some gentle slopes for both horse and human to deal with on a regular basis. The mat, to gently challenge horse’s balance in the way that the boat challenges mine and keeps me ticking over. Environments which will enhance our baseline stability and let the “work” we do together be more productive.