Today was another Gentle Fit class at Heritage Fitness in Carleton Place. Louise our instructor informed us we'd be doing the Pyramid today. The image of this rag tag class having to climb on each others shoulders was too much for me to comprehend. The mumblings of confusion must have been loud enough for Louise to hear so she explained the concept before we started. It was actually an inverted pyramid series of activities mixed with cardio. We'd start doing a series 5 exercises with weights, 10 reps for every exercise to start then 9 reps and work our way down to 6. Of course there would be cardio in between the set of exercises, that was a series of 4 movements each done for 30 seconds.
Hum I thought, in the past couple of weeks Gentle Fit was hardly Gentle for me. I puffed sweated and strained trying to keep up with the rest of the class. Today's pyramid sounded daunting. Well I was there and it had to be done.
Now I won't say it was easy but for the first time, I actually felt I could keep up. A by the end I felt I could have pushed myself harder. So while I still have a long way to go in my journey I am seeing improvement.
Then home for lunch, followed by some work on the computer. That was when a friend dropped by. Linda Van Schyndel has been in and out of my house many times over the years. Her daughter Sabrina boarded her horse with me the first two years we were on the farm so Linda is no stranger in my home. She was just dropping by to see how I was doing. She didn't want to come in so we were chatting away in the vestibule, just catching up. That's when both cats came down the stairs howling and hissing and behaving possessed. I had now idea what was going on. Bourbon my black and white cat seemed the most upset of the two but his behaviour had Branch my marmalade female cat hissing and carrying on as well. I actually thought he might leap at both Linda and myself. I tried talking to them...frankly by this time I was a little scared myself. So we left the house and went out and gave the horses a couple of carrots and finished our visit in Linda's car. A first being run out of my own house by my cats. Linda left, I entered the house not knowing what to expect, and there was Bourbon and Branch to greet me as if nothing had happen 20 minutes before. Honestly as much as I love my cats I will never figure them out.
Now as for the cold, I know I'm Canadian and this is January but really this cold is too cold. I don't mind winter if it would only stay around -10C and no colder during the day. I have enjoyed the extra sun but really does it have to come at such a bitterly cold price. I guess the one day on the weekend with =2C high was just too good to be true. I am longing to do more exercise outside. I know that spring is on it's way. It is nice to have the longer days, I'm just so looking forward to the warmer days to go along with the sunshine.
One week into my journey.
It's Monday and that means I get on the scales. I was looking forward to this all week as I have been exercising regularly and eating properly. I got on the scales and there was a new number, I'd lost 3 lbs. I now weigh 205 lbs. I should feel pleased with myself but I'm not. Somewhere deep inside in that place that makes me happy or sad, 3 lbs loss was not good enough. My sensible self of course knows this is very good. That it will take time for me to get into shape and get the weight off. My visceral self or gut was down in the dumps.
So what to do. Well first thing was to have a little internal talk with myself. A conversation between sensible me and viseral me, reminding me that this is a long journey I'm on and it will take time to lose weight and it will take time to get fit. The next step was to get to the gym. Last week I managed to get there 5 days. I did 2 yoga classes, a easy fit class, an long run on the treadmill and a weight session. I am progressing but working out is still hard.
I know as I write this the only thing I can control is how I act in the present. So today I will continue to eat properly and keep active. I just hope with time that visceral self will start to be proud of all the hard work my sensible self is doing to improve our shared body.
Sunny Sunday in January.
Well it's the end of my first week of writing this blog. It's been an interesting activity. One thing I've learned already is that I lead a pretty uninteresting life. It's been hard for me to figure out each day what I'd actually write about as nothing really significant seemed to have happened. That I guess is really the big reason why I'm forcing myself to blog. I actually have to get up out of bed and do something to write about.
Today was one of those days that took me by surprise. I woke up and it was cold, I was more than annoyed because yesterday it had been lovely, mild even. Anyway a hauled my pissed off self out of bed grabbed my big bucket of beet pulp and headed to the barn. The barn was still surprisingly warm, the horses body heat had kept it cosy even while the temperature dropped outside. I fed the boys their beet pulp and grain, checked there water, it wasn't frozen and topped up their hay. I decided they could stay in for the morning, keeping them in would keep the barn warmer. Back up to the house for tea and breakfast.
So the morning passed while I watched The Amazing Spiderman 2 and played on the computer. At that point I thought I'd better get out and do something...as the horses are in maybe it's a good time to try out my binder twine wisps. Grooming my boys is an activity. Rolo likes to step on my toes when I'm reaching up to brush the tall bits, and Derby is as ticklish as they come and there's a lot of tail swishing and the odd hind leg cow kick. So I have to stay on alert. Floyd happily is a dream to brush, just as long as I keep him in the fake cross-ties and not the real cross-ties. Well brushing went well and so out came the binder twine wisp and shock of shocks, they all loved it. You sort of do this odd arm movement that ends with you thumping the wisp on a large muscles on the wisp. It really brought out the oils in their coats even on the first try. So now I think I'll have to make at least one for each horse. The larger one worked much better and was easier.
By this time the sun was out and while cold it was a very nice day so blankets went on and I turned the boys out. I felt it was a good time for me to get some exercise as well. I have been wanting to go out on my snowshoes and as I actually thought about it today when it was still day...I dug them out and started tramping around the 5 acre field. It was great, no wind, sunshine and of course three horses watching the whole activity from the edge of their paddock. After one trip around the field moved to the paddock in front of the house. That is the area I've decided will be my winter riding ring. There finally is enough snow to have some decent footing, it just needed a little help to crunch up the thin ice layer. So I tramped around there for another hour and now have a pretty good area to start to work the boys. This week I'll start with some lunging and hopefully work up to some long lining. You'll have to check in with the blog later to see if I actually achieved my goals.
Jack Hinton my horse jump building partner and good friend had his 80th birthday this week. It happened to coincide with the opening of a new music venue just outside of Carleton Place called North on 29. So what better way to extend Jack's celebration that go to North on 29 to hear the Good Brothers for the joint's opening night.
Jack, John and Glennis all knew the Good Brother's music. I was the newbie when it came to the band. Jack for heavens sake even had a Good Brother's belt buckle that he had bought at a concert some 30 years back. At the end of the night the "Brothers" talked about it being a collectors item. The night was a blast. The music, some folk, some blue grass, some celtic was all perfect for a snowy evening in January. The venue, an old barn that had many years ago been converted into a restaurant/bar that venture failed. It sat empty for almost a decade until now when Adam McKinty the owner of the very successful Neat Cafe in Burnstown decided it would make a great place for food and bands.
It was wonderful to be out with friends for food and music on a Saturday night. I felt part of the community. It was nice....even neat.
The Soap Opera Treadmill
Workout class on Fridays starts at 9:15am. I know that 9:15 isn't really that early, but after spending the last year working on the evening shift I don't seem to be able to get my act together and out the door before 10:30. Oh well I'm sure I'll adjust. Anyway all this to say I didn't make class this morning and so when I did show up the the gym I hit the treadmill. Cardio is really what I need so it was the best alternative.
All was good, I got a machine in front of a tv so I could read the news and watch the pictures while I walked off the calories. And it was on said treadmill that my day's entertainment took place.
The man on the treadmill next to me started a conversation with the woman beside him. I assumed they knew each other because as soon as they'd said hello the man started to recite his entire medical history. I know he had his appendix out when he was a kid, he had a twisted bowel at some point in his life as well. He went on to say he had colon cancer number of years back and had his blood tested only to find out he had the colon cancer gene, then to top things off he had a heart attach. Then he went on to say he now can't go in for his annual colonoscopy because he's on blood thinning medication for his recent heart attack. The running woman did get a word in between graphically described illnesses, long enough for me to learn she was a nurse.
So while I got the latest on tv news about the doctor/prof who was taken into police custody at the Chimo in, I continued to hear this man moan on about his medical condition. How lucky he is to have a daughter who is a nurse and a son-in-law who is a doctor. I also heard that the medical system is falling apart because he has to wait for a follow up appointment to have more tests post heart attack. This is too long and complicated a theory for me to explain in this blog but just let me say it had to do with the hospital not dropping everything and making other patients wait and look after him.
All this time the woman listened, gave her advice when she could and kept a lightness in her voice I didn't believe possible while she ran her heart out on the treadmill. Finally the man's time was up. He was instructed by his cardiologist to walk for 30 minutes exactly, no more no less. That's when he introduced himself to the running nurse. I was gob smacked. How could this man feel his story would be of any interest to anyone but himself. I thought this poor nurse, I'm sure she comes to the gym so she can run off some stress, not to hear the medical history of a not so perfect stranger.
So my lessons learned. Bring headphones so strangers won't talk to me while I'm on the treadmill...And listening to other people's weird conversations does make time fly by while exercising.
Crowns, Queens and Corgies
Crowns, Queens and Corgies, that's the title of the new jump I'm working on right now. The jump standards have a stylized Queen Elizabeth II on one side and the Union Jack on the back side. The panel has a row of stylized Corgies. The plank above the Corgies is a row of Crowns. The background on the plank and the panel is royal purple of course, a nice contrast to the gold and white Corgies. The Queen will be in gown on her throne. The Union Jack will be well a Union Jack. I have the sketches done for the Corgies at this point. They are funny little dogs to draw, for whatever reason I had a hard time keeping myself from making their legs longer. Maybe by this time next week I will at least have a panel and plank to show you. The Royal Standards will take a little longer to put together. Jack Hinton, my partner in all jump building ventures, will have to take my design and come up with a way to make it into a sturdy standard that can take a good knock from a naughty horse.
I'm not sure I'm going to do a special ground line for the jump right now I can't think of anything better than a line box of flowers. My original concept was to have the Queen dressed in a walking coat with her Hermes scarf on her head the way you normally see her walking her dogs at Balmoral Castle. Unfortunately every attempt looked more like me dressed to go to the barn in the morning than Queen Elizabeth II. Not the look I was going for. Oh well nothing ventured nothing gained. More to follow in the days to come.
Oh I forgot TBT. This is a photo at Tic Toc in the winter of 1968 I'm on Bucky the pinto pony. Pat Stephenson McCordick is on the imfamous Yogi Bear.
This was two years ago....only 42 years later. I'm on Floyd and Pat is riding Hemingway. Very special thanks to Ron Braaten and Judy Dupuis for making this day happen.
The Barley Equation
This December my farrier Pat St.Jean came to trim my boys feet. Rolo first, all went well the grumpy old man even was willing to lift his hind legs Floyd of course was charming as always and Pat, who's sweet on Floyd, threatened again to steal him away and make him into an endurance horse. Then we brought out Derby. Pat looked at him gave him a pat on his sides and said, "he looks like he's dropped weight". Pat finished the task at hand and we both got on with the day.
Derby hasn't been in work for 10 months and he's not the kind of horse that does well without regular work. He worries when he has too much time to think. I'd also cut back on the amount of grain I've been feeding all three horses because they weren't in work. Rolo and Floyd were doing just fine but Derby obviously needed a bit more.
I feed my horses beet pulp all year round, morning and night along with sweet feed. In the winter I bring the beet pulp up to the house to soak as the barn is too cold. While filling the beet pulp one morning thinking empty thoughts as you do while waiting for the bucket to fill...a thought popped into my head. 40 years ago when I was a teenager working at Tic Toc Stables in Alymer Quebec. The barn manager, Lynda Holt used to feed her show jumper Sun Poppy cooked Barley at night during the winter. Poppy or Poops always looked top form. As it was also a bloody cold morning, I liked the idea of giving he horses a warm feed at night.
So I hit the books as well as the internet and looked into the benefits of cooked Barley and horses. After much reading I decided to dig out an big old stock pot in the basement and start cooking some barley for the boys. The grain has to be cooked because of it's hard outside shell. Once cooked it's very digestible. I put at least 3 times the water to grain. It boils on the stove for about 40 minutes then turned off and the grain continues to soak up the rest of the water. I do this first thing in the morning. The house smells wonderful. I'd forgotten how sweet and welcoming a boiling pot of barley smells when sitting on the stove. I started with a small batch dividing it before the three boys at about 9pm when I top up their water and hay nets.
Needless to say all three boys love it. Derby has rounded out nicely in the last month. Rolo is a better weight than I've ever seen him in winter. And Floyd who only gets a handful because I can't see him go without licks his bowl clean making sure every last morsel is slurped up.
It does take an extra effort, I won't say it doesn't, but the activity of cooking the barley I think has been just as good for me as it has been for Derby. There is something wonderfully comforting about the whole experience. I can't decide if it's the sweet aroma of the barley pot on the stove or watching the boys gobble up the warm mash at the end of the day. It's just another one of those equine daily rituals that gives me peace.
I've been a journalist and producer with CBC Radio for over 27 years. I now focus my time on my horses, my art, my fitness and my garden.