The Fringe Eventer blog post # 4

Another one bites the dust sand #6    

 in gate

Yes, it has finally happened. I have officially been re-christened by the jumping gods in the form of a sand bath. I knew this would happen. It was just a matter of time. I must say though, in all fairness, the fault really didn’t lie with either of us but rather a combination of events, the catalyst of which was out of our control.

We were jumping a simple 2’6” line with a steady four strides in between. My mare was fabulous and two strides out from the final fence I reached up and out with my right hand to give her a congratulatory pat on the neck when a loose dog ran into the arena and straight for Lexi. My reining horse mare stopped on a dime sending me off her back, over her shoulder where I hung in mid air for what seemed like an eternity before taking a sand bath. On another subject, has anyone every discovered just why time s l o w s down to a frame by frame view so you can relive it over and over in your head with pristine detail? That is just so weird. I mean really, I had a conversation with myself on the way down. I won’t tell you what I said.

The good news… everyone was okay and while sand is a wonderful exfoliant I would recommend you experience its benefits in the serene and controlled setting of a spa. And, keep your mouth closed. Just sayin’! We were able to hop back on and jump a single rail (to get our groove back) and then finish up with the same line, perfect as you please. 

I wanted to use my first sand bath to make all you Masters out there think about fitness. I took a big tumble from the back of a 17+h horse and I was absolutely amazed by how well my body, mainly my back, survived the ordeal. I’ll be honest I don’t run a gazillion miles a day. In fact I don’t run at all. I do occasionally walk around the block with a friend. But, the one thing I do religiously is work on my core muscles. If the last four years spent in the sandbox have taught me anything it is to have a strong core. I can’t stress this enough, especially since your torso is such a large percentage of your body mass. 

In 1995 a drunk driver tattooed the back of my car and left me with back issues. Hours spent in the saddle in two-point, bent under a horse cleaning feet and screwing in studs, and hefting heavy bales of hay didn’t really help my aching back. Even when I left jumping behind to pursue dressage my aching back was never far from my thoughts. At some point my dressage trainer told me to purchase an exercise/yoga ball and use it to build up my core muscles. Finally, more to shut her up than anything, I relented and purchased the silly thing. After blowing it up I plopped it down near the TV and proceeded to watch my favorite show while deflecting hysterical comments from my husband and kids. This didn’t work at all, especially when the kids commandeered my ball to use as a toy, so off to work I went, ball in tow.

exercise ball

Thankfully I have my own office. I store ‘Lexi’ under my desk and pull her out several times a week to work on my core. The difference has been absolutely amazing! When I first sat on the ball I thought to myself, “Well this is stupid. I can balance on this thing all day long.” Well fellow Masters it really isn’t that easy and it is not so much about balancing in the big sense of the word, but more about the small adjustments your muscles have to make in order to keep you on top and sitting still. It’s a cellular level sort of thing. Without really thinking about it, your core muscles start firing away making minute adjustments and corrections (think space ship thrusters – it’s corny and so Star Trek but it works) to keep you on the ball. It really is that easy.

I started at 10 minutes and worked up from there, pulling ‘Lexi’ out from under my desk every other day. Before long I hardly even noticed the time tick by and my riding began to improve steadily. I sit straighter, ride better, and best of all…my back didn’t hurt after every ride or even after my fall. (insert cheering crowd) I have no doubt that my new and improved abdominal muscles helped support my spine when I needed it most. I am also happy to report that my back has not bothered me once since I lifted my old jump saddle onto my mare’s back several months ago. For me this is huge.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your keys, run to the store, buy your own ball and just SIT. Or if sitting on a ball isn’t your thing then start planking, anything to build up those core muscles. You won’t regret it and the difference it could make when you hit the dirt just might be worth it all the jokes and jibes. Besides, let’s face it, we just don’t bounce when we hit the ground like we used to.

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