Ha! My muffin top is alive and well, I think it is because after 3 hours at the barn, I think I am entitled to a box of crackers and chocolate covered granola bars. I think the people that own the barn think I am crazy because I am always offering to do stuff (muck, feed, turn out, break up frozen water tubs, nail fences) because 1) it is a hell of a lot more fun than the paper shuffling my paying job requires and 2) I need all the exercise I can get.
On a serious note, I am still trying to figure out if riding is just way more technical now than it used to be, or if it is a combo of instuctor + age-related comprehension reduction. I don't remember having to learn all of the keeping contact + horse on the bit + driving through their hind end + balancing/supporting their movement from the front end... in addition to breathing, posting, heels down, seat tucked in, head up, etc. etc. etc. The most important thing before was just staying on and staying out of the horse's mouth.
I am doing a combo of 2 lessons a week with a very strict dressage instructor + 2 lessons a week with a hunter/jumper instructor who only gives me a hard time about 1-2 things + 1 lease ride by myself just walking and trotting and trying to practice stuff in the books I read. I didn't really intend to be so spread out, but it is working for now. I feel like my difficult instructor keeps me on my toes about everything, the more laid back instructor gives me the opportunity to make some mistakes and do more "right brain" riding and the leasing is just a pressure free knock around. Of course this is all costing a ridiculous amount of money, but I've completely cut out clothes, shoes and skin creams that probably weren't working anyway