Specific exercises and supplements to help us 50+ ride well, and work at the barn

What are you doing to keep fit/get fit, keep supple, improve or keep your balance, stretch muscles or even to control nerves and be calm? And what supplements are people taking, or herbs or meds to keep from feeling pained and creaky before and after riding or barn work?

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Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement and occasional Functional Integration lessons, that's what keeps me moving with the motion of my horse, sitting the trot, feeling great, and doing all the barn chores. I'm biased because after realizing it would keep me riding I became a practitioner and now I teach riders to move with more fluency and better balance, have independent arms and legs and move in harmony with their horses. But since I feel and move magnitudes better at 50 than I did at 40--who better to promote the method. It helps people regain the movement they had as children, it helps children move with better coordination and balance. My articles at SitTheTrot.com include lessons that apply the Feldenkrais work to horseback riding--and all you have to do is lie on the floor and do funny little (or big) movements pay attention to your own habits and patterns of movement!
I do Pilates myself. Pilates is great for balance, strength and coordination. MSM works wonders as well for me. I see an osteopath regularly as well.
I swim, swim, swim. at least everyother day. 500m. back stroke. and hydro afterwards. I can really tell the difference in joint health when I have to miss.
Wow, this is new territory for me. I am appalled that my body is not there when I demand the movements I took for granted in the past. It's just not acceptable!! ;)

Now that the ranting is done, here are my new observations and revelations:

I am chicken. I was such a warrior! I loved to gallop! Who is this person inside me???

I have proven to myself that my flexibility directly relates to, or affects, the flexibility of my horse.

Physio helps my range of motion in hips, back, and knees. But it's very $$

Cardio is important, but I have yet to discover something that doesn't hurt my knees.

Speaking of knees, the strong leg muscles I use for riding have displaced my patella. Lots of squats and lunges. Ugh. Plus I use a VERY small, very effective knee brace while doing barn work, exercises, and riding. $60 and worth every cent.

Anti-inflammatories are my new best friends.

I take glucosamine twice a day—although I am not convinced of it's value (even though my horse takes it religiously!)

I ride 5X per week—sometimes only for a half hour because of aches. That's a confession.

I now have a bucking strap for confidence. Never used one before but my horse is 17.3, and it's a very long ways down.

I stretch for 15 minutes before I ride, but skip the after-ride stretches—yet another confession.
Does it really make a difference to stretch afterwards?

I take a couple shots of cognac before I school in a new place, or show; just to calm nerves (it works) —there's another confession (I would take an Ativan, if I could!)

My 'undercarriage' is WAY more tender than before! Is that my imagination? Where's the padded underwear???

I umm... 'pass wind' when posting—that's so embarrassing in a lesson!! I use GasX, and it works for two hours. Or blame it on the ducks... or barking spiders...

I use pads in case of 'accidents' when my coach tells me to open hips and bear down. Horrors!!

Just to add a little variety, my nose runs excessively when I ride. I always have a paper towel in my pocket, but have considered velcro-ing one onto the back of my glove every time ;)

It's all so ATTRACTIVE!

I intend to ride until I'm 90, so I'm hoping there aren't too many more additions to my "kit"!

So basically, I have decided to deal with each little issue.
There are so many times during the day that I tell myself to, "Get over it!", "Deal with it!", or "Ignore it!"

I still have a hard time accepting it, though.
Hi, Dawn!

The nose running thing is just so elegant! I have videos of myself in tests looking lovely, then I complete the final halt and wipe my nose on my glove because I JUST CAN"T STAND IT!

Equestrian Collections stocks padded underwear. Check the fit of your saddle (for you, not the horse). As we age, our pelvic tilt can change, and saddle fit can become qute intimately urgent! Strategically placed maxi-pads can help in the short term.

Take some advice from Laura Coffey (also on this site) and use propanolol (you will need a prescription, but you can ride/drive/etc. without nasty side effects) when you go to a new place or face something particularly challenging. Actors and musicians use it all the time for performance anxiety, because it doesn't interfere with performance, it just relieves all those adrenalin-related symptoms which are so unpleasant.

I think our internal warriors are still part of us, they're just tempered with time and experience! Mine still leaps to the forefront when necessary (and sometimes when it's not), but I tend to think things through a little more first, and evaluate the possible outcomes! That's just maturity, it's not being chicken.

I've actually found (at least for me) that stretching after I ride is more beneficial than stretching before. I do the stretches Heather Sansom set up for me, and since I've been doing those religiously AFTER I ride I have no back pain. Heather's got great ideas for several of your issues, and if you send her a request via this site she'll usually answer it in her blog (also on this site).

Sue Blinks rode the 2000 Sydney Olympics with a bucking strap. If it's good enough for her it's good enough for me!

Swimming will help with cardio, and keep the pressure off your knees. It's joint friendly, but hard work, and it's bilateral, so it will help with flexibility, straightness, strength, and cardio fitness.

I'm not sure what to tell you about the gas issue (sorry about the pun!). Try Diovol or Ovol with meals, and don't use products with sucralose, maltitol, etc. If you need sweetening, try stevia, which doesn't create those symptoms. Milk can be a contributor, so try yogurt and/or cheese (ripened milk products) instead.

Ageing is also an interesting process for me, and I've had to modify my approaches to some things. However, I think most issues can be managed, and I'm darned sure interested in managing them all as they arise, rather than letting them get the best of me. My grandfather started his last colt at 77, and was still riding in his 80's, and my Mum's still competing at nearly 72, so I am DETERMINED to keep up my end.

You go, girl!
Hi Dawn,
There is some interesting work on the pelvic floor, stress incontinence, pain, and other discomforting & uncomfortable issues. I teach a pelvic floor workshop for riders and my 2 main resources have been: one designed by Deborah Bowes who's a physio and Feldenkrais trainer. It's available as a cd through cd baby or Deborah's site: Pelvic Health and Awareness. The other is the book: The Female Pelvis Anatomy and Exercises by Blandine Calais-Germain.
Aging is interesting but it's also possible to mitigate the effects caused by the effects of modern life.
Michele
I will have to check that out, I had an embarrassing situation on a long ride with no cover for a quick 'squat' and my pony suddenly spooking violently (I'm sure she did it on purpose). It's a good job I wasn't far from home and was able to get back without anyone spotting the fact I'd wet myself good and proper!

Dawn, blame the horse for the farts; or get in sync with it and theirs!

After a long ride (say 10 miles plus) I always take the dogs out for a good long brisk walk; however tired I might feel when I start, I am absolutely exhausted by the end BUT I don't stiffen up.

I take a few supplements, but no painkillers and no drugs. Don't carry much extra weight which I think helps. Certainly other than arthritis in my fingers through about 40 years of abuse on keyboards I am in fairly good nick, she says modestly, and don't feel much different now from how I felt 30 years ago in my mid twenties.

My elderly mother suffered with Alzheimers, but when she was in her late 80's I started taking her for horseback rides; just a gentle walk or jog. She was exhilarated; everything mentally fell into place and she could hold a coherent conversation for nearly 24 hours afterwards. I am so glad we did that together but wished that I'd started it earlier.

Jenny

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