Road to the 2020 Real Rider Cup: Focusing on Fitness

Melissa Bauer-Herzog rides a horse in Texas in October, prior to the busyness of November. (Courtesy Melissa Bauer-Herzog )

Supporting Thoroughbred aftercare, The Real Rider Cup brings riders together from all facets of the Thoroughbred industry to raise funds for aftercare. America’s Best Racing writer Melissa Bauer-Herzog is currently training for the 2020 edition of the event and is documenting her training up to next September’s show.

While I took every chance I had to ride in October, getting on horses in three different states during a hectic month of travel, November was a different story.

Early November is almost always one of my busiest times of the year and 2019 was no different. With clients having multiple horses running in the Breeders’ Cup and selling at the November breeding stock sales there was barely time to sleep, let alone coordinate schedules so I could get out to ride. Add in a holiday and all of November is basically a toss for riding.

Melissa running barrels as a teenager (Photo courtesy Melissa Bauer-Herzog/A.R. McCreary)

So I made a new plan for the month.

When I competed nearly every weekend as a teenager it was always drilled into my head that I should be in as good of shape as my horse, if not better. As I touched on in my last blog, I am in the opposite of good shape right now so instead of No Stirrup November (a form of equestrian bootcamp - or torture, depending on how you look at it - where riders spend the month riding without stirrups, which is much harder than it sounds) I decided to focus on Fitness November. It’s not as catchy as No Stirrup November but it works.

While I’m missing the part of my teenage fitness schedule that had me riding at least one horse every day, I do still have the gym part. Luckily for me, I have access to both my apartment complex’s private gym and a gym I hold a membership to so there is no excuse not to go.

Getting into a “go to the gym” routine has been difficult, to be honest, so I embraced using the sales to at least get some exercise routine in. Sale days are almost “step goal cheat days” as I can often walk 10,000 steps just around the pavilion with trips to the barns adding in even more without even trying. After going from not getting in nearly the steps I should to the sale steps count, my Garmin must have thought I was in some sort of boot camp.

However, when the sales ended in mid-November I had to work harder to get in my workouts. Thankfully I’m a goal-oriented person, so giving myself the goal of getting fit for the Real Rider Cup has been the kick I’ve needed to do something every day.

Courtesy Melissa Bauer-Herzog

One such method of tortu … exercise … is starting back on the Couch to 5K program that saw me train for a 5K in 2013 with grand plans of running a 5K in 2020. It seems great in theory but we’ll actually see if I get that far. If nothing else, it’s reminding me that I can indeed run on a treadmill, something I wasn’t convinced I could do without becoming a viral social media video in the past.

There is definitely a lot of work to be done both in and out of the saddle in coming months but as I get more involved in preparing for next year’s show, I am remembering how much I missed not only the riding side of things but having an equestrian goal to pursue – even if every muscle in my body is currently convinced I’m attempting to kill it.

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