Resting heart rate: 53. This healthy metric is due, in large part, to my personal trainer. But why did I, a female in my 50’s, hire a buff, 22-year-old dude to help me reach my fitness goals?
Well, there are the obvious reasons. For one, he’s easy on the eyes. As we run shoulder-to-shoulder, I can’t help but sneak the occasional glance at his muscular physique. If he notices, he never says anything.
Besides the superficial reasons, there are other benefits to working out with my guy, who I’ll call “BD,” since I didn’t get his written permission to include his name here.
First off, I don’t enjoy going to a gym. Never have. But put me out in nature, and I’m in heaven. BD is more than happy to exercise in the fresh air. That’s a big plus. We meet three miles from my home and we run and hike through the local hills and trails. Living in Southern California, the weather is almost always conducive to being outside. During the summer, we go out early to beat the heat.
On the occasional times when I hike and run on my own, it’s not as much fun. Sure, I can push myself, but something’s missing. I hook into BD’s energy when we run together, and I often feel like I’m flying. It’s an incredible sensation.
BD certainly could run faster and farther than me. But he never criticizes or judges me (at least not out loud). He’s happy to go at my pace and somehow that motivates me to do more.
When I feel like sprinting, he effortlessly keeps up. When I slow down, he falls right into step with me. When I stop to catch my breath, he waits patiently. In many respects, he’s the perfect partner.
Being older and, hopefully, wiser, I do sometimes have to be the grown-up. For example, we have a lot of rattlesnakes around here. Since I’m not sure that BD pays attention to whether there’s a snake on the path in front of us, I make sure that I lead on single-track trails.
But I defer to BD when it comes to hearing strange noises. Occasionally, when we’re out in the early morning fog, he’ll stop and listen to something that I haven’t even heard. I stop too, as his 22-year-old senses are probably sharper than mine. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In a nutshell, my hunky, 22-year-old trainer makes working out fun. He’s always happy to see me and enjoys moving through nature as I do. Knowing that we’re both happy and healthy because of our time together, I feel great all day.
You may be wondering how much it costs to hire a personal trainer several days a week. Well, that’s another wonderful thing about BD. He’s not in it for the money, so I’ve never paid him in cash. But BD does appreciate treats. He enjoys carrots, and he especially loves A to Z horse cookies.
Oh, did I mention that BD is my horse? And in my humble opinion, there’s no finer personal trainer on the planet!
Do You Want to Hike or Run with Your Horse? Here’s What You Should Know:
Put safety first! I suggest that you work with a qualified, experienced, positive reinforcement (“clicker”) trainer to make sure that your horse is comfortable with you hiking or running alongside him. Even a normally quiet horse may become overly stimulated by this change of routine, leading to a dangerous situation. Please exercise caution at all times. It may be wise to wear sturdy shoes, a helmet and an equestrian safety vest while you’re working with your horse.
Teach your horse to travel at your pace. BD, whose AQHA name is Heza Breezin Dream or Breeze for short, was a real firecracker when I first started running with him on trail. If I so much as broke into a slow jog, Breeze would get excited and trot very fast, pulling ahead of me. This wasn’t safe. Or fun.
Here’s what I did: I rewarded Breeze when he stayed at my shoulder, neither getting ahead nor lagging behind. The good stuff (those yummy cookies!) only came when he kept pace with me. Breeze soon caught on. I can sprint, trot or stop suddenly and my horse remains at my side, with a loose lead rope. I bet your horse can learn to keep pace with you too.
(Make sure any treat you feed is compatible with your horse's dietary needs and restrictions. Check with your vet if you have any questions.)
Teach your horse to stand still if you fall. Horses can spook, bolt or even kick out if the person leading them suddenly falls. If you’re hiking over rough, rocky terrain or even running together in a groomed arena, there is a chance that you could fall. Believe me, it happens.
Again, I used reward-based training to teach Breeze to immediately stop and stay put if I fall. That training has come in handy a couple of times!
Motivate your horse with rewards; don’t threaten with pain. People often comment on how enthusiastic Breeze is. I believe his enjoyment comes from being paid with tasty treats rather than threatened with pain. That makes both of us happy. Please keep your training safe, positive and fun! 💖
Note: this post was originally published in July of 2017 on my former website. I'm republishing it on my new site three years later. I'm happy to report that 25 y/o Breeze and I are still going strong! 😊🐴 💗
I'd love to hear from you! Email me and let me know what fun activity you and your horse enjoy together. I'll personally respond to each email. :-)