We’ve all been there before—the car rolls in the barnyard, and the weary nine-to-fiver tumbles out, stumbling to the barn for chores, looking like she’d rather be headed inside for a nap. Life gets busy, and we all have days, or even weeks where putting in the time gets difficult. The last thing you want to deal with after a busy afternoon of grazing is an energy-zapped, loquacious Human.
Fortunately, I have made a study of finding creative ways to exercise your Human in between the grazing dates, the dust baths and meditations on the meaning of life.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
The last thing you want to do when designing an exercise program for your Human is to find yourself exhausted at the end of the day while he’s chomping on yet another Snickers bar. I find, as a Professional Draft Cross, that some of my light-hooved cohorts are prone to letting their frustration over their Human’s unhealthy habits get to them.
Remember, if at any point during the exercise you are breathing heavily enough that you can’t easily chew and swallow the grass blades you swiped while your Human was getting the longe line untangled, then you’re doing it wrong.
Do Your Homework
Let’s face it—it’s tempting to run wild circles when the Human comes to catch you, just to get that fat butt of his moving. (Seriously—would it kill him to take a nice alfalfa salad to the office once in a while?) But going straight into high-intensity work is a great way to make him cramp up and whine for the rest of the afternoon.
Instead, try to prepare a warm-up for your Human several hours before she arrives. Have a good roll in the mud and make sure you get lumps in unexpected places. Be sure to do this early so it has a chance to really harden by the afternoon. Inside the hind legs, behind the ears, and inside any feathers you may have provide a great range of locations to get her stretching and grunting first thing. Also, try spicing up the old “ditch the halter” routine by hiding it in a clump of weeds near the gate—the last place she’ll look after a few laps around your field. More advanced readers should consider separating multiple articles of turnout apparel for a cardio warm-up.
Never Underestimate The Power Of Poop
Get in touch with your spiritual side! Feng shui can be a really great addition to your existential philosophy and your workout program. Rearrange elements of your stall as you feel necessary. If you feel moved to let your Human know the water bucket is in the wrong spot, poop in it. Either she’ll learn to lug the dead weight to the back of the stall where it belongs, or she’ll burn some calories scrubbing it out every day. This rule can really be applied to any object you feel is improperly placed. Don’t like that ugly Unjolly Ball? Poop on it. Is that third-cutting hay not bringing enough positive energy to your palate? Poop on it.
Never underestimate the power of poop.
Get. Everything. Dirty.
The more scrubbing and buffing your Human has to do to your tack, the better. If the Human makes you work on a dry, windy day, be sure to actually move occasionally so you can kick some dust up onto the saddle. If your Human is simple enough to ride you in plain tack, make sure he adds to your ensemble. Flex your shoulders to make the saddle move around so the Human has to employ new pads/straps/superglue to keep it in place. Start opening your mouth in situations that don’t call for it so she will buy and clean extra nosebands, bits, martingales and other junk to fix problems you don’t have. The stress of spending all that money might make her drop a few pounds, as well.
If you’re really feeling gutsy, take advantage of your Human’s wimpy “water break” to have a good roll—while fully tacked.
Do What You Can
At the end of the day, as trite as it sounds, you only do what you can in helping your Human reach the weight loss goal you’ve set for her. You can’t control her tendency to “veg out” in front of “Real Housewives” with a bag of Doritos while you’re vegging on some low-fat bluegrass. But what you can do is be sure she makes up for it when she comes to visit you.
|Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky. Photo by Dark Horse Photography.