Since quick onsets of exhaustion are one of the worst symptoms of my MS (rivaling lack of balance and inability to coordinate) I have big problems getting my muscles fitter for riding horses. By day three of any exercise program I get exhausted, all progress stops, and my general fitness starts to deteriorate–as in it gets much harder for me to walk on my own two feet.
Lately this wonderful Forum has brought my attention to 2 non-mechanical riding simulators that I can use in my house. When I got my Home Horse (HH) I got pretty ambitious. It was definitely working for improving my balance, the strength of my legs (especially my thighs), strengthening my core and coordinating my movements. All this without irritating a horse!
But after 2 weeks of 20 minutes a day on the HH 6-7 days a week exhaustion made its dread appearance, my balance worsened and the “comments” from my lesson horse were not complimentary. Oh well, back to 1-5 minutes sporadically throughout the month. There was one positive from this, my riding teacher said my heels were not as stiff (they went down further.)
Then I read about the “Anywhere Saddle Chair” (ASC) from Wendy Murdoch’s web site. It is nowhere as expensive as the HH, does not take up as much space in my house, and I can get on and off it without anybody helping me. The ASC mainly seems to be working on my core muscles, back, above my hips and my gut muscles, as well as giving me a chance to work on my balance.
Since it is easy to get on and off the ASC I can just sit on it for a minute or two several times a day. To feel like I am not going to face plant I have to sit upright (no slouching), and I concentrate on my teres major muscles right below my scapulae and my quadratus lumborum muscles in my lower back, pushing my waist forward, keeping my face vertical, and I work at keeping breathing while I try to find center on a sperical surface (the bottom of the ASC is half a sphere) for maybe a minute or two.
This tiny bit of extra movement has resulted in me needing to sleep and hour or more every day right now. I really hope this improves but by now I know I cannot push myself further or I will end up in exhaustion, yet again.
People with systemic diseases that increase exhaustion cannot do exercise classes, they are too physically intense and, at least for me, last for way longer than my limited energy, so just doing more every day will make me worse instead of improving me.
So I feel like I am trying to sneak up on getting my riding muscles fitter. I hope that by doing tiny bits of the ASC during the day and resigning myself to needing more sleep, that eventually this will make me a better rider for the lesson horses I ride.
It takes SO MUCH TIME to get stronger this way. I get discouraged and I dream that if I could just cram in more exercise a day I would make progress, but with my MS I have to go slow.
Like I am climbing Mt. Everest a millimeter a day.
At least my gut muscles are starting to feel stronger, and also my other gut muscles.
But it is so slow!