Wednesday, 22 February 2012

'Horses lend us the wings we lack': Why I ride and blog

I've decided to start a blog and this is it. I'd been writing my own diary in my fb notes page for a few months about how I'm doing with my riding, but I'd got to a point where I'd like to share my experiences. I don't know whether it'll be useful to anyone else that's riding or considering riding who has an invisible illness or an instructor that may want to know more about M.E. and whats possible in a lesson. I look at it in the way, if I don't put myself out there there'll be one less voice out there talking about the subject. 

I said in my previous blog 'About M.E.', I'm mildly affected and I have a private riding lesson for 30 mins once a week. Its been interesting watching my progression and I thought it might be useful to share where I am and what I've done and what I'll go on to achieve. I've been riding since March 2010, so why did I decide at that point in my life to attempt riding?

I've always wanted to try riding a horse since I was a little girl and its one of those things that got consigned to that list of 'I want to and I will some day'. I find that list fatal as it can so easily become 'I did want to, but never had the chance or was never brave enough to'. I don't know about you but I don't want to get to a point in life where I've got a long list of regrets with the sole reason why being that I was never brave enough to try.

In March 2010 though I decided at the grand old age of 34 that it was time to bite the bullet and go for it, if I didn't then when would I ever. I'm one of those ones who likes to try something like riding at least once. It doesn't matter if I hate it, injure myself or don't enjoy it ... at least I can say that I was brave enough to try it once. So I booked a lesson and Sunday 21st March 2010 arrived. I say lesson, but in the end it was more of an 30 min assessment. I had a horse called Tick Tock. I went to mount and as soon as I sat on the saddle my first words were as we set off, or rather I squeaked 'sh1t it moves'. My sister was down the other end of the indoor school and had heard me, she burst in to fits of giggles and replied 'yeh funny that, they have a habit of doing that'. Apart from the fact that Tick Tock spooked when another horse fled down the yard the assessment went okay and I booked to go a fortnight later ... and have been going to riding lessons ever since. Getting over the 'John Wayne' walk has been interesting, and its not too bad these days, unless I've done too much sitting trot and then its quite painful. The last time I did that it took me 4 days to fully recover.

'Horses lend us the wings we lack' ~  its true. I can't begin to describe what its like riding. I don't have my own horse, but ride the horses and ponies at a local riding school. Having M.E. you seem to have a set of invisible walls around you that re-position themselves each day in terms of the space you have. Some days at its worst it can be impossible to leave the house, some days the local supermarket is as far as I'll be able to go, and on the better days of which I'm lucky I get alot of I go further afield, a lot further afield in some cases (however, it does come back to haunt you and you'll pay for it in the end). However, just mounting a horse and setting off to ride it gives you the wings to soar and break free for a small while from it all.

I'll never forget the day I came off the lunge rein and put Max in to rising trot. I did a couple of circles before I had to stop, my eyes had gone a bit watery. I'd started crying with happiness over my achievement. It was scary, exciting, exhilarating and I was so proud of myself. I won't forget the first time I cantered, which on an 18.3hh Suffolk Punch X felt like I'd been catapulted into the air by Skippy the Kangaroo. I won't forget the first time I rode across the countryside hills in Devon, or at Edale in the Peak District either and looked across the landscape and thought 'I'm really doing this'. For all those good times though, there are the bad times. I sadly won't forget the hack that knocked my confidence for six when I had what I can only describe as a complete power failure and felt my energy drain out of me. It was a disastrous hack, I felt miserable, hurt like hell and could so easily have given up riding. I recovered, took stock of the situation, switched stables and explained to the new stables what happened. I've continued riding. I wouldn't let it stop me.

I've managed to go from a fortnightly 30min lesson to a weekly 30min lesson. I managed to achieve this by Sept 2010. I was scared at first but I got into it. I've gone to the other extreme now in that I try not to miss a lesson. I'm mindful of my M.E. so ride on a weekend. I know how I am just working full time and believe I'd be doing myself more damage if I attempted to ride during the evening. The bonus with riding on a weekend is that I get to put any stress from the week behind me and it gives me something to look forward to during the working week. I've not been riding 2 years yet but in that time I've ridden a range of ponies and horses from 13.3hh to 18.3hh. Who were they? Well there's been ... (its quite a role call) ... Tick Tock, Barney, Clover, Marcus (a frieisan), George (the first horse I did rising trot on), Larry, Pie (at Edale), Buffy, Prince (Devon), Max, Lewis, Missy, Mabel, Sparky (the ex race horse, ex because he wasn't any good), Valentine, Ben, Willow, Bryn, Spencer, Cleo (I adore Cleo), Amber and Coral.

For 30 mins a week I get to put all my troubles, worries and illness behind me. I've learnt sometimes my lessons will be affected by my health. When they are, my school, instructors and I have a pact - I speak up and let them know and we go into walk and see whether I recover to do something more active, if not we'll just walk and do gentle stuff to see out my lesson. I do like to challenge myself though. I've found in nearly 2 years I really love doing dressage moves, secretly I'd love to compete in dressage. I've done a number of hacks in the countryside. I'm learning to canter, and its one of my goals in 2012 to try and crack it.

So this is me, my blog and my riding successes and failures (hopefully not too many). You're most welcome to read how I get on and I hope if you're riding or thinking about riding its of some help to you.

Irene x

1 comment:

DL said...

Fabulous post Irene. I've no doubt you'll achieve everything you set out to: the secret in life is not to see our limitations as failures, but to rise the challenges that are within our limits yet beyond our expectations. You have the approach to get where you want to go, I'm sure of it :) x