Or … News From the Department of Silly Walks
I know the type of ground exercises I do with horses is good for their bodies, activating and toning the muscles used in self-carriage. And I know that it helps humans tune in to the subtleties of posture and balance in both themselves and their horses. But recently I found out that doing this kind of work with your horse is good for you in other ways, too.
Turns out all that movement is good for building bone density. Yes, that’s right ladies – do your groundwork and you’ll stave off osteoporosis. Who knew?
I got this news from a client who had just come from an annual check-up. This forty-something woman had been asked about the types of exercise she was doing, and as she described the horse groundwork, her doctor got interested. It seems that when we move our bodies in defiance of gravity, we are indeed doing a form of weight-bearing exercise. And all this time we thought that only happened when we were heaving bales of hay, bags of feed or piles of manure.
Also, apparently, the interesting contortions sometimes required to keep up with the horse’s changing posture really works our muscles, strengthening those parts of our bones where the muscles attach. (And for many bones, that’s nearly the entire surface.)
It’s true. Look it up! Two of the activities mentioned on lists of good exercises to ward off osteoporosis are walking and dancing. That’s pretty much what you’re doing with your horse in this case – walking lots and lots of steps and doing it in differing configurations, hopefully with a little rhythm in there. And for most of us, groundwork with our horses is waayyy more fun than lifting weights at the gym.
According to my client’s doctor, the bone density issue should be on the radar for women starting at age 30. So, all of you ladies of a certain age, get out there and dance with your horse. It’s good for you!