First of all, I want to say “Thank You” to everyone that helped spread the word about Cowgirls With Curves! The response since launching has been overwhelming, which confirmed what I already knew first hand! Let me just say, it’s fulfilling to talk to other women with the same issues and feel like you’re making a difference. So, I can’t say THANK YOU enough!
One of the hot topics among us real size cowgirls is confidence – How do we get it? That’s something we struggle with in and out of the saddle.
I’ll confess, I’m probably more confident in the saddle than I am out of it, mainly just because I like working horses so much! That doesn’t mean however, that I’ve not had times that I’ve had to work for it, and I still do when it comes to barrel racing especially. The one thing that has always made a difference in my riding confidence has been working out and getting strong – notice I didn’t say losing weight. It’s strength that makes the difference.
I’ve always said there’s nothing like having a colt to break, or a young horse to start back in the spring to make a person get strong. Ride a few fresh young horses and you’ll see what I mean!
Where that came from, for me, was that each winter I took a break from everything. No riding, no working out. Then when spring rolled around, I’d get back to riding.
Each year, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed it’s taken me longer to get back to feeling normal and in sync with my horse. With each passing year I’ve had to work harder at it – and if I’ve had a young horse I’ve had to put even more effort.
Most of the time, I’ve done the usual core work like planks and crunches to get my balance back. While that helped tremendously, I’ve found something that works even better!
This year instead of taking the whole winter off, I started working out in early November doing Kettlebell exercises. The difference that it has made in my riding has been amazing, especially considering I was only doing three exercises at 20 reps each. In fact, it made such a difference I made the fastest run I’ve made so far on my horse, and I felt good about it and in control the whole entire time. I’ve been trying to make that silly run for three years!
I took pretty much the whole month of December off, and then didn’t throw a leg over one until the end of January. Even having that much time off and my horse absolutely full of it, I felt like I hadn’t taken any time off at all. To me, that said a lot about the exercises that I’d been doing.
Kettlebellsworkouts.com and PositiveHealthWellness are the websites that I used to find Kettlebell exercises. Kettlebellsworkouts has a list of 52 exercises with videos and they periodically will do a Kettlebell Challenge to keep you motivated.
PositiveHealthWellness has a great list of Kettlebell exercises with instructions that will help you get started. They also have nutrition articles, and an extensive list of exercise ideas if you need to switch up your routine.
I’ve shared the three exercises that I’ve started out with. Since I’m not a personal trainer, I’ve listed the links for each exercise with the proper instructions.
I already had 10 pound dumbbells and two 20 pound weights on hand so that’s what I use instead of a Kettlebell. Since I use different weights for different exercises, this works out well. At some point I might cave in and buy a couple of actual Kettlebells but for the moment, I’ll use the money for my feed bill and entry fees!
The Kettlebell Plank Row is one exercise that I can honestly say is the absolute hardest I’ve ever done! It’s also an exercise that I feel makes a huge difference in how you ride since you’re engaging your core at a high level the entire time.
The Kettlebell Walking Lunge is one that I do with a little variation. Instead of keeping the Kettlebell overhead, I’ll hold the weights out in front of me and raise them overhead which engages the core even more.
The Kettlebell Swing is a great exercise to get your heart rate up very quickly so it’s a great option to use for not only strength but cardio as well. I do this exercise with more weight than I do the other two exercises simply because I’m stronger in that position.
A word of caution on the Kettlebell exercises – the Kettlebell Turkish Getup is a whole lot harder than it looks! I let a teenage student and her two little brothers try it with a 5 pound weight. It was all they could do to get up. So if you want a hard challenge, try it.
Because these exercises elevate your heart rate while working several body parts and engaging the core the whole entire time, you really do get more bang for your buck. Because of that, you can save on time since you don’t have to do as many exercises to work the same amount of muscles.
There’s something about being strong and being in control of your body when riding that has an effect on your mindset and confidence. When you’re strong, you don’t feel out of control or over-powered.
You may be at a point where you’re thinking, “I can’t do these type of exercises!” It doesn’t matter what you can do – what matters is that you start somewhere. If you can do one rep, do one. Then the next day try two reps. Just start at the level you’re at – YOU CAN DO IT.
How confident are you when it comes to riding? Why do you think your confidence level is at the level that it’s at? What is one thing you can do today to improve your confidence?
Let me know how you guys are doing out there! Drop me a line, visit the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page!