After two weeks, both Winston and I are making progress.
My goal is to lose one pound per week. I've completed two weeks and I've lost two pounds so I'm on track. I'm more interested in getting my fitness back, both from a cardiovascular standpoint and building strength. I had my first session with my personal trainer, Dominique, at the gym on Monday. The session the previous week had been an intake assessment (and sales pitch). Dominique got right to work, taking my measurements and weighing me for our benchmark. Then she bounced her cute blond body, tiny and fit, over to the free weights. It was intimidating. We were surrounded by a herd of huge body builders - a petite blond and a middle-aged whale. She had me doing lifts and presses for shoulder strength. She would demonstrate, hand the weights to me, smile with a mixture of friendliness, encouragement and evil enjoyment - and start counting the reps. After we finished with the shoulder work, she had me do abdominal crunches and sit-ups and other (impossible) exercises. A woman was sitting on the mat next to the sit up bench, watching me. She looked to be just a tad younger than me, fit and lean, with fun spiky hair. She smiled in a friendly way at my agony and assured me it would come with time. I've been doing a couple sets of abdominal crunches every day at home - my abs are so weak and they are so important for riding. I know that as I build muscle, the weight loss may slow down but as long as my fitness improves and the soggy factor diminishes, I'm okay with that.
Winston was worked five days this week: four days of arena work and one day on the trail. I read an article in Dressage Today, by Cindy Ishoy (the Canadian Olympian and trainer) about working with green horses. She gives an example of a warm-up that she finds helps with getting the horse supple and swinging through the back. So I tried it.
It isn't rocket science, but is works very well for Winston. She says it is best to start a green horse with focus on balance, consistency, and response to the aids. If the horse is ridden with fairness and sensitivity, you will have a great base and a willing partner. Winston agrees. After walking on the buckle for five minutes, I take up the contact and we continue to walk. I counter-flex him a tad on the long side and then flex him in on the short side. Then we do some trot work -- big circles and serpentines. Finally some canter warm up. I had been waiting to canter until later in my work with Winston, but I found that he has more energy in the beginning so he is willing and happy to jump into the canter. The kicking out and bucking diminished and then disappeared completely. And the best part was that I could feel his happiness. The warm up work was helping him swing, helping him be supple from side to side and from front to back. He was being successful and he likes that.
He greets me at the gate, ready to go to work, and he hangs around there when we finish not wanting to lose the bond we are creating.
In other news... Brett developed a rash around his waist earlier this week. We thought it was a heat rash from all the hours he spent in a wool uniform in hot, hot weather. The rash didn't improve and became increasingly painful. Seriously painful. He went to the doctor yesterday and discovered that he has shingles. Ouch.