We’ve had quite a snowy, wet, cold spell here. I don’t have an indoor space to work with the horses, so most of our time together involves me feeding them. It takes a surprising amount of dexterity and energy trying not to fall down in the treacherous footing that alternates between ice skating rinks interspersed with frozen chunky muck and a foot deep lake of slippery clay. The horses are focused on eating, finding shelter from the snow, wait rain, wait snow… sleeping flat out in any dry patch they can find when the sun peeks out. We’re all tired.
I find I need some kind of vigorous movement, something that challenges me, to work out pent up energy. It’s how I clear my head so I can focus on things like writing. Long winter nights beg for ways to keep moving and cooking is the perfect answer. No need to contrive an exercise routine. Cooking from scratch so that I have to knead dough, or chop veggies. Grinding my pesto in a mortar and pestle instead of the food processor. One night I made homemade refried beans, squatting on the floor to get the best leverage to mash the beans with a potato masher. Sitting on the floor and working on my laptop so that I keep putting my body in different positions and have to get up and down. I’ve been pondering how the tools of convenience eliminate sources of movement…
Since I’m not as active with the horses in the winter, I get creative. Walking through the snow to feed instead of taking the ATV. Pushing the wheelbarrow down the lane with a bale of hay, can I push with my arms out ahead of me? Elbows slightly bent, shoulders down and back? It’s harder than it sounds and requires constant awareness not to let my elbows slide behind me, leaning into it and pushing more from my hips. Carrying feed buckets, instead of just letting the weight of the bucket hang off of the ligaments in my shoulder and elbow, keep my elbow slightly bent and my shoulder joint tucked back against my shoulder blade. I can feel deeper core muscles wake up when I do this!
All these little things build strength and awareness in parts of my body that are key to my successfully working with my horses come spring. Even though I’m not riding or working much now, I’m still tuning my body to be a good dance partner for my horse. I’m also tuning my ability to be creative within my environment. I wonder how handy that will be when the horses and I can start to work together again?