Mental vs physical preparation – body lessons (horse-riding journal 3)

This is a journal-like exercise pertaining to a 14 h horse-back trail ride, in a region of hills and mountains, between 800 m and 2300 m altitude,  a total of 58 km, in spring time, in a team of 14 individuals: 7 riders and 7 horses.

Hope you enjoy the story as much as we enjoyed the ride and we invite you to tag along in one of the Haidook Experiences opened to the public.

Here is the third “chapter” of the Haidook Experience. The previous one is here  The rest will follow shortly.

For this ride, I admit I have prepared more mentally than physically. It proved to be enough to keep me safe and make the adventure very enjoyable.

I discovered that good tactics for how to approach the more difficult segments of the ride went a long way in conserving energy, keeping the heart rate at bay and protecting the muscles from future pain.

I am absolutely not fit for any cardio activity. I’ve tried and failed as my mind and my breath fade out as heart rate goes up. Outdoor or indoor, I simply am not up to the task of cardio activity.

Our adventure included on-foot-steep-climbs more than I care to count. In addition to this, although apparently slow, Steward has a step a little longer than mine.

I managed to stay away from high heart rates by deliberately choosing alternatives of track and asking him to stop more often than he might have liked. When walking I moved at the end of our 7 riders-7 horses line, so that my slow walk would not agitate the faster horses and riders. Usually I take few and long steps. On this ride, I preferred to take more steps to cover a certain level difference than I would normally do.

I permanently framed the difficult segments into “towards something”: the clearing where we took pictures, the peak, the shepherd’s lodge etc. It kept me focused on moving forward instead of overly analyzing the present surroundings. This way, on the last part of the ride, fatigue proved easier to deal with. On this adventure, the mind took care of the body.

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