Fitness

Skip the Trail Ride and Hike Instead: Isabelle Bright Works On Stamina By Going Up Hills

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Los Angeles is known for many things, including its amazing hiking trails close to the city. Griffith Park alone has 70 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. Despite being an avid rider, Isabelle Bright finds hiking rewarding in a different way. For her, it’s “pushing yourself to keep picking up your feet on those seemingly never-ending hills is mentally taxing.” But oh-so-worth it.

While hiking, and even riding, can be activities done in solitude, having an accountability buddy, and someone to talk to on the trail makes hiking even more enjoyable. For Isabelle, she found that partner in Raquel Korbsmeyer, the equestrian lifestyle blogger who runs Horse & Heels, who also happened to live in the LA area. After hiking sporadically last year, they “made a New Year’s Resolution to try and hike every week.” Isabelle shares the benefits she has seen from hiking.


Hike to Enjoy Nature, And Give Your Legs and Lungs a Workout

The focus on these hikes, especially with the big hills is to work my legs. When I get tired while riding I feel that my legs are the first to show weakness. I’ve always been relatively heat sensitive so trying to keep up stamina in the heat is challenging.

Our regular hike is about 4 miles but I’ve gone on hikes up 9-10 miles. Hiking in Los Angeles is this awesome combination of being in the wilderness but also being able to see the buildings in Downtown LA. In Malibu, which is about an hour drive from me, there are the most insanely beautiful trails. You can hike to waterfalls and up hills that let you see down the coastline and on clear days out to Catalina Island.

Hiking is Good for the Body and the Soul

Physically, I’ve seen a big improvement in control over my legs over fences and on the flat. I ride a green 7-year old thoroughbred so it’s important that I give him the appropriate aids and not get in his way. Mentally it’s always been a challenge for me to push through the heat. When I would compete as a kid I’d always whine to my mom about being hot in my jacket, granted when I was a kid jackets were not the awesome soft-shells like today, but it always inhibited my riding in some way. On a trail, you can’t just stop because it’s hot. It requires focus on your breathing and being deliberate with your steps to be the most energy efficient. When I ride now I see that I can keep control of my body for longer periods of time without giving up because I’m a little hot.

Additionally, hiking is the perfect time to talk with Raquel about horses, Instagram, interior design, and numerous other topics that come up over the two or so hours we’re together which is very therapeutic. One of the things we laugh about is when one of us is telling a story while we’re going up a hill and you can hear the labored breaths while trying to talk and hike simultaneously. You know you’re getting in better shape when you can tell a detailed story while climbing a giant hill.

Eating and Hydrating Are Important

Hikes get steep, and especially during the summer, we were sweating a lot. When you’re not sweating, that means you’re not hydrated enough. Before heading to the trails, I have a light protein-based breakfast, like eggs [to help with energy to make it through long and sometimes grueling hikes].

Nicole is a writer for Heels Down Media. If she's not writing or editing, she's either running, doing yoga, or at the barn working on becoming a better, stronger dressage rider.

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