52 Exercises Series Announcement and Exercise #1: Horse-Riding

52 Exercises - Horse-Riding

In our new series 52 Exercises I will personally test a different fitness class or sport each week. The idea is to fight boredom and ageing when you’re not traveling by being constantly challenged both mentally and physically and trying new things, including things I don’t think I’ll like or wouldn’t normally do.

52 Exercises isn’t about improving fitness or losing weight but maintaining them and having fun. It will also get me to try things I’ve previously enjoyed like yoga but don’t do because they’re not an aerobic, or calorie burning, work out. So hopefully I’ll inspire you to exercise, try new things and challenge yourself more often too.

I don’t expect my general fitness levels to increase much from this quest although I will continue my usual exercise which is generally a walk or bike ride every other day with some light exercise videos using hand weights on alternate days. I take Sundays off.

I’ll track my calories burned during each session and how much time was spent exercising in the optimal heart zone rate which will increase my aerobic fitness and burn fat. I’ll also give each exercise a rating for fun factor, fear factor and post-exercise glow.

52 Exercises #1: Horse-Riding

I had horse-riding lessons as a child which my dad got discounted because we rented the fields behind our house to the riding school. But my parents would never buy me a horse even though we had stables at the bottom of our garden.

So I am not that horsey and these days I don’t horse ride much. It’s over a year since my last ride when we set off early for Mary Valley Adventure Trails stables.

My horsey mad friend Anne is driving, with her daughter and a friend in the back, all looking the part in jodpurs and collared cotton shirts.

I’m aiming for a mildly adventurous experience but the possibility of being thrown off and rolled on by a heavy horse any-time make horse-riding an adventure sport.


When we arrive Graham our guide saddles the horses up, adjusts our stirrups and loads us up with bottles of water. We’ll need them. It’s a hot summer’s day and I’m already feeling the heat in my black leggings, which I figure are similar to jodpurs, and a long-sleeved T-shirt for protection from the sun and thorny bushes.

I sign the indemnity form ticking that I am a competent rider. Definitely not a beginner or intermediate. Yes please, I am up for a canter.

My horse Esau is a grey endurance champion who obeys Graham’s commands but not so much mine.

We set off along the road and over the creek before turning off into Amamoor State Forest.  My bum is soon aching. We canter up hills then walk carefully down the other side. After an hour I start wondering how long the ride is. I think it’s two hours which is quite long and I know my bum will be sore tomorrow.


Then I find out it’s a three hour ride and, when Anne stops to powder her nose, I gleefully hop off Esau and stretch my glutes. But then it’s  back on the horse for another hour of botty bashing. Even Anne and her daughter say their bums are sore because they aren’t used to the saddles and I take comfort in that.

Esau behaves badly, refusing to let the other horses get in front of him and holding them up but he is strong and reliable. I manage to get him to the back of our small procession and he puffs like a train as we canter while I cling on for dear life.

By the end of the ride all of our horses are drenched in sweat from just in front of their ears to their rump.

When we get back to the stables I dismount as fast as possible and wobble like a new born foal across the field to a tree where I stretch some more. Apparently my bum will ache most the day after tomorrow.

Graham tells us that horse-riding uses 1,100 muscles most of which will be sore tomorrow and I wonder why I punish myself so. But then I remember why I like horse-riding: fresh air, smiling faces and aching bums are all part of the adventure.

The next day my bum still aches along with my back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs. I think that’s just about everything.

And I think about cantering and how my heart was racing faster than the horse’s.


Horse-Riding Exercise Review

Time Exercising: 3 hours

Average Heart Rate: 80 (a bit more than I’d burn doing nothing).

Peak Heart Rate: 153 (but that must have been very brief, mostly horse-riding didn’t get my heart beating fast enough to burn much energy).

Calories Burned: 300

Fun Factor: 7/10

Fear Factor: 6/10

Post-exercise Glow: 7/10

Cost: $110 for three hours (horse-riding isn’t a cheap sport which is why I don’t do it more often).


What do you think of the new 52 Exercise series? Do you think I’ll be able to try a different sport every week throughout 2013? Could you do it? How do you nix boredom when you’re not traveling?

Please suggest some exercises or sports you’d like to see me try. I can’t promise all will be available where I live but I’d love to use your ideas if  I can. 

Click here for more episodes in the 52 Exercise quest.

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  1. Cate January 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel
    I used to love horse riding until I (mysteriously) developed an allergy – not to horses, but to the pollen and dust filled horsey environment – and definitely think all my horse riding contributed to super strong abs and glutes, etc. (oh, those were the days), but remember going for a half hour ride after not riding for some years and being – ahem – unable to walk for about three days afterwards – and that was after I learned to breathe again :) – love this idea for a new series and can’t wait to find out what else you have to offer.
    Cheers, Cate x

    • Annabel Candy January 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Cate,

      Ooh that sounds bad. I didn’t get that bad!

  2. QwkDrw January 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Maybe work out with a collegiate womens basketball team or perhaps prepare to compete in an age-specific tennis tournament


    • Annabel Candy January 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      Hi QwkDrw,

      I’ve never played basketball so that sounds like a good one though very scary for me. I don’t do well at team sports. Not sure about the tennis tournament as I might have to train all year for that but tennis is on my list :)

  3. Angela January 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Love the new series! How are you measuring your calories, etc? I’d love to hear what you think about Zumba. I love it, but I always feel a bit ridiculous doing it.

    • Annabel Candy January 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Angela,

      I know what you mean about Zumba. I definitely wouldn’t want anyone videoing me at it!

      • Annabel Candy January 8, 2013 at 7:57 am

        Hi Angela,

        Forgot to say I have a heart rate monitor. Suunto brand which cost $65. It’s programmed with my age, height and weight so calorie burning should be reasonably accurate.

  4. Seana Smith January 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Come ocean swimming with me Annabel, it’ll scare the pants/cossies off us both. I like this idea, always up for a bit of novelty and fun. You’d be good at fencing, I bet.

    Here’s my thought on travelling… going somewhere new or far or a bit different is travel, even when it’s in the city we live in. For example, we had a great tree adventure recently in the west of Sydney and I’m currently planning a visit with the kids to great water slides in Parramatta on Tuesday. It’s a journey when the kids come along, not plain sailing – never. It’s new and stimulating… and that’s travel for me.

    • Annabel Candy January 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      I’d like that – how far do we have to swim though?!

      Love your travel thoughts and agree :)

  5. Marcy January 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    What an awesome idea for a series!

    I think a cool challenge to try would be to take a flying trapeze class (that’s on my 101 things in 1001 days list) or a pole dancing lesson (that’s DEFINITELY not on my list). Other ideas: belly dancing, bikram yoga (I loved it, but it’s intense), roller derby, cardio tennis (a fun, great workout), or parkour.

    • Annabel Candy January 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Marcy,

      Yes to the flying trapeze class. I’ve discussed the pole dancing with friends and all agree they won’t join me on that one… I might have to do it though. Also bikram yoga’s on the list as I’ve never tried it. I already love cardiotennnis and it would be fun to try rollerderby and parkour. Is that an organised sport I wonder?!

      Thank you for the fab ideas.

  6. Kiki la la January 7, 2013 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Love it! Perfect timing.

    I shall attempt to try 40 out of 52 this year and will report back.

    Challenge is on Ms Candy!

  7. Kim Gilliom January 8, 2013 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Happy New Year Annabel! I love this new series. What a great way to stay inspired and fit for the year- We are in the middle if Winter here in Colorado so any snow sport would be fun- skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing or ice skating- perhaps a family ski trip to Colorado is in order?! xo

    • Annabel Candy January 8, 2013 at 7:58 am - Reply

      Hi Kim,

      Oh we would love that. The closest I might get is a trip to the ice-skating rink….

  8. Barbara January 8, 2013 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Great idea for a series Annabel! January is traditionally the big push to get in shape for most of us so good timing. Taking it to 52 will be really interesting.

    My primary way to ‘try’ to stay fit is walking. Fortunately I live in a very walkable city so I can keep it interesting. Having owned a health club many moons ago I know how quickly the fitness push wanes come March, so keep at it and keep sharing your adventures!

    • Annabel Candy January 8, 2013 at 7:59 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      I love walking too but I’m lazy. So that’s why I need to push myself more!

  9. Suzanne January 8, 2013 at 3:54 am - Reply

    Hey Annabel –

    I don’t read many blogs but yours has been coming into my email box for at least a year now and I keep reading it and enjoying it so much! Kudos to you for always fun, informative writing. I love it.

    I also love this challenge! I went to an “Extreme Health” seminar a few years ago and this guy had a super-bod at 52 yrs old and his big schtick was a rebounder! So I got one! His is a bit fancy and spendy ($450.) as it folds up and can be brought with you when you travel.

    Apparently jumping up and down on it for 7 minutes is the equivalent of running 2 miles (cardio-vascular-wise). I have mine sitting in front of my desk, and anytime I need a break of scene I jump on it for a while and it’s fabulous.

    Beware, if you haven’t done this ever, you’re body won’t be ready and you’ll be surprised how short of a time you’re out of breath and muscles screaming. It takes a while to build up time, but it’s awesome.

    Looking forward to more of your series!

    Suzanne Goulet

    • Annabel Candy January 8, 2013 at 8:00 am - Reply

      Hi Suzanne,

      Thank you for the fabulous feedback. I love the idea of a rebounder I need to hit the garage sales and see it I can get one cheap but we do have a trampoline and it is an excellent test for those pelvic floor muscles – that’s all I’ll say :)

      • Suzanne January 8, 2013 at 8:34 am

        “That’s all I’ll say” Ha! No need to say more. It’s the same for men and women – I’ve had a few guests at the house not be able to stay on it for 2 minutes before having to jump off! Lol.
        After a few weeks though, everything get’s ‘firmed up’, which is the point now, isn’t it?
        After a year of consistency, my feet, legs, balance, even arms and now abs are really engaged when I’m on there.
        Your kids will love it too!
        Good Luck on this 52-week commitment you’ve made. You’re signed on now!

  10. se7en January 9, 2013 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Oh this series is going to be brilliant!!! I love everything about it – the concept, the first post… the bravery factor!!! You go girl, I am so looking forward to it… as I slide my slops on and amble down to the beach to watch the kids playing!!!

  11. Johanna at ZigaZag January 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Great series Annabel and looking forward to following your escapades. Chuckled my way through this your riding one :) “Bottom bashing” was a wonderful phrase. I used to ride all the time and never a tired glute, but on the odd occasion when I do now can never believe how achey all over you become – and I figure if there’s pain, there must be gain! I’m also doing a series, but it’s to lose 5kgs. #DoItLose5. Wish me luck!

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