Friday, March 11, 2011

The Old Gray Mare: Care and Maintenance for Women of A Certain Age (Both Human & Equine)

It has been one of those days where I am conscious of every single mile this body has traveled.  You know what I mean -- the kind of day when you roll gingerly out of bed, wince as your feet hit the floor and you stand, accompanied by the kinds of snaps, crackles, and pops that would make a box of Rice Krispies proud. 

I've had a sinus infection for the last month and a half, so the lack of exercise, resultant weight gain (darn Girl Scout cookies!) and work related travel has taken it's toll.  Today has been the kind of day where NSAIDS and muscle relaxants alone couldn't cut it; it was time to hit the chiropractor for some muscle stim, massage and an adjustment.

Sounds nice, right?  Felt pretty darn good, too, at least until my chiropractor started giving me the speech about how I probably would bad if I would only be a bit more proactive, do more yoga, more stretching, more massage, blah blah blah.  Then he dropped the big one on me, "If you took care of your self like you take care of your horse, you'd be in great shape."

Well, OUCH.  Really, I was there for an adjustment, not a Come-To-Jesus life makeover.  He had a point, though.  My Dutch Warmblood mare, Sugar, is 15 years old, has had a couple of kids (she has 4 to my 2) and has some of the issues you'd expect for a hunter/jumper of her size and mileage.  Since she came to me, Sug has received regular chiropractic care, massage therapy, and daily supplements that I've researched to the nth degree (it's good to have friends who are vets!)  Her massage therapist, my friend Carolyn, has shown me some massage and stretching techniques, so I massage and stretch her after every ride.  My trainer manages her vet care as if she were an Olympian and makes sure she gets shots or injections as needed. 

When I think about it, I take care of her like this because I know what it feels like to be an out of shape Mom getting back in to work and the associated aches and pains that go with that.  I know that when my muscles are in spasm I don't feel like working out, and if I manage to actually motivate myself to GO to the gym, my performance suffers.  When I'm in constant pain, I get crabby (actually, there's another word, but this is G-rated blog) and lack patience, my work suffers and I am generally no fun to be around.

Logical, yes??  Anyone who has felt chronic pain knows how it affects work, exercise, and mood, right?  If you've carried a shoulder bag, laptop case, or backpack for any extended period of time you know what that does to your back, neck, and shoulders.  Sitting at a desk or performing any repetitive task for any length of time will mess your body up.  So why wouldn't schlepping my big, out-of-balance butt all over creation, while jumping obstacles and doing heaven-knows-what-else negatively impact my horse's physiology?

So that's my reason.  I take care of her so well because I know how it feels when I don't take care of myself.  I want her happy and healthy  for as long as she possibly can be.  And because she doesn't have the power to take care of herself; in this reality, I am her advocate - that's what I signed up for and the promise I made to her when I got her.  Now if I could just learn to apply that same outlook to myself....


  1. haha, is that like a woman of traditional build?

  2. Well said. Actually, I've spoken words to that effect any number of times myself. Now if I could only just apply them, we'd be getting somewhere...
    Sad, but true *laugh*

  3. Wow, you've hit the nail on the head as far as Painsville in our older cranky bodies. I love the therapy your horse is getting. Sounds like I could use some of the same.
    Your daughter would probably love my Keystone Stables horse books. Visit me at: and
    (Beautiful free gift with purchase of book set)