From daily rides to playing polo to taking care of large animals, owning 12 horses involves a lot of exercise.
Jaymie Klauber hears it all the time.
“The horse does all the work.”
It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Horseback riding is a partnership between human and animal, which means the workload is shared. Klauber would know. The owner of Epic Equine Experiences and polo player has been riding horses since she was a toddler.
Klauber, 53, lived in New York growing up, but she and her family had a farm in Pittstown, N.J., where they could escape the city. That’s where she first started riding, thanks to her father, Richie Barrie. She was a natural.
If she hadn’t started riding at such a young age, she might have realized sooner just how difficult it can be to ride horses. There is no substitute for the type of workout it gives a rider, Klauber said.
“The cool thing is you're having fun, and so you don't even really realize [you’re exercising],” she said. “You can really even get the exercise just walking on a horse. Your legs are still locked. Your core is still locked. So even if you just go for a trial ride, you're getting exercise.”
Klauber typically rides seven days a week, multiple times per day for about an hour each ride. On top of that, she plays polo two or three times a week, usually for longer than an hour each game.
She added that playing polo takes the exercise up to an entirely different level. In addition to the work riders already do with their legs and core, they have to control a horse with one arm and bend down while swinging a mallet in the other arm. It can be very strenuous on the back.
“It is a lot of energy that you are giving to the horse and sharing with the horse and bearing down and digging down into the horse and with the horse to accelerate,” Klauber said. “And then all the movement with the polo and steering and stopping and accelerating and turning.”
Klauber, a Sarasota Polo Ranches resident, said she doesn’t ride in the summer, which means the first rides after the break are grueling. This summer, she tried to prepare herself by running — she’s since continued running twice a week while she trains for a half-marathon — and exercising through Orangetheory, a heart rate-based, total body workout program.
“It was, by far, the best workout I've had — that wasn't riding, that wasn’t polo,” Klauber said. “It got me the closest I've ever been to being polo fit and riding fit, for sure. But still, you're not using exactly the same muscles.”
But riding isn’t the only source of exercise Klauber gains from her animals. In general, caring and tending for horses leads to an active lifestyle. From equipping the horses with saddles and more to wrapping their legs to shoveling their manure, the movement hardly stops. And Klauber has 12 to take care of in Sarasota.
“You're just always doing something,” Klauber said. “Grooming, brushing the horses. Every time I do it, I feel like I'm doing ‘wax on, wax off.’ I mean, my arms are burning.”
Other benefits to horseback riding include improved balance, coordination and posture. And Klauber said the benefits aren’t purely physical. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, she thinks the mental benefits of riding are more important than ever, from getting outside to connecting with another living being.
“You've got that whole emotional and mental bond with a horse,” Klauber said. “Just being around them. I mean, it's healthy for the mind and the soul and the spirit. … Winston Churchill said, ‘[There is] something about the outside of a horse that's good for the inside of a man.’”