Sunday, 8 March 2009


I've got back on a horse. 

Twice now :-) !!!!!!!

First time was two weeks ago. I was excited all week, and terrified. What was I going to find? Did my body know how to do any of it? Would  I be  able to stay on? Would I be able to breathe? Would I be able to stay on and breathe?  Would I be able to ask the Horse to do anything, stay on and breathe?

Well the answer for week 1 was Yes.  Getting on was interesting, horses are so high up aren't they?  I don't like heights, lightbulbs are things that other people change (if I can get away with it). However, previously being high up on a horse didn't count, like standing over a waterfall and a lake doesn't count either. The water or the horse remove the fear somehow.  Anyway, on the horse, hmm legs... what are they going to do?  This was why I was nervous I had no idea what was going to happen.

I like riding a horse for more reasons than I care to share. One important reason is their unpredictable nature. Horses have minds and moods and spirits of their own. You have to ask nicely, and they have to want to oblige and believe you know what you are asking. 

Horses have special knowledge, they know that sometimes a hedge is a hedge, that well known thing they pass every day on the way to the hay net. They know what birds are, they dance about and land on the cattle, they can fly. Sometimes they know its not a hedge anymore at all and there is a lion hidden in it which they have to skitter past, fast and sideways. Their equivalent of the monster under the bed. ( The lost Book Monster in all our houses!) Or that shadow isn't the crow on his way somewhere but an eagle about to swoop and the only means of escape is to RUN.

You have to pay attention when on a horse.  Eddie isnt quite right here
about me - though he is as always amusing.  

So am on the horse wondering if I will 1) remember how to do anything 2) be able to actually do it.

This was going to be as hard as when I learned to walk again. Sending some instruction to some part of my body and see if what happened was anything like I had hoped. It was near, sometimes.  

The horse was a star, a mare but not a tempermental one and I had a sense that she was looking after me. That sounds like a foolish notion, but it did feel like that.  So I get to the end of the session, having breathed more deeply then I had done in a VERY LONG time I had nicely dredged up all sorts of goo at the bottom of my lungs, and I had a ruddy complexion. Did I say ruddy? I dont think that really does justice to large population of blood vessels that had exploded on my face.  And I was hot. 

I was alsodrunk on happiness. Happier than I have been for a very long time. The sort of deep happiness that comes when you have connected with something that you know is part of you and has been lost.

So end of week 1. My core muscles worked for the first time since before surgery were in that dazed place of "Eh? What just happened here? Who ARE you? Eh?"

Next hard thing, get off the horse. I knew as every single muscle in my body was trembling from over exertion that getting off the horse was not going to be possible the normal way. I took my feet out the stirrups and had a think. How was I going to jump off? How do you do it? Well I'd remembered lots of things, but not this one. 

Fortunately there was a mounting block nearby and on a loose rein the horse walked me to it and stood patiently whilst I climbed down.  The right leg, didn't quite make it. I was off, but not elegantly.

There is a scene in the film High Society, where the character Grace Kelly plays, is very drunk at her party the night before she gets married ( who can blame her!) and she has been escorted to a room to recover. She decides to escape and climb out the window. The way she does it, bears some similarity to how I got off that horse. Put it this way, its not the easiest, best or most elegant way.  And I probably couldn't do it sober.

So for several days afterwards EVERYTHING HURT. And that was GREAT

Week 2 arrives. Get on the horse. No longer appears high up, just normal :-) 
Ask the horse to do things. Horse says yes sometimes and not others. Horse is not being nasty, just not taking care of me like it did the previous week. Horse has measure of me. Horse is teaching  me. Get to end of lesson nearly. Nearly pass out at one point through lack of oxygen, This thinking AND doing AND Breathing lark is all a bit much at times.

Go out of school and up lane for a stretch of the legs. (Not mine, am still on the horse) Gorgeous day, sharp, birds and lion hedges about. Horse skitters but comes back. Look down at horse's head. Horses ears. Forward. I can't see the horses face  but I know from her ears what sort of expression she has on. She is enjoying the pastoral scene too.

Walk back in to yard. Outside. No mounting block. Have to get off. Hmm last week was a bit of a fiasco. Last week I had the mounting block and it was an indoor school. The earth would have been ignominious, but soft. 

This time am outside, concrete is hard and cold. Still not much strength in my legs. Stamina coming back slowly, or at least I have faith it is.

Could make a big fuss and find the mounting block OR I could risk it. What's the worst thing that could happen? I could land hard on the concrete and not be able to get up... because I can't yet get up,  I still have to pull myself up.  I could land hard on the concrete and break something, then I definitely wouldn't be able to get up and it would be another while before I was back on a horse.

Got a bit bored of myself worrying about it. Took feet out of stirrups. Went for it. Jumped off horse. Properly.  Landed. Properly.

It wasn't what you'd call a great landing. If I'd been a gymnast dismounting, I'd have made that one step forward. But it was good enough... 

Thrilled. ( More thrilled by that then being able to keep one leg on, change diagonal and breathe at the same time)

Next day, slightly aware I'd exercised, nicely aware actually, but no pain.

Looking forward to round 3. 

I am not naturally sporty. Happy in water, on a horse, riding a bike, BEING rowed. Takes me a while to learn stuff, get it actually in the muscle memory. It's hard for me. I usually find when I am doing something physical like this my other learning starts to wake up too.. 

Hope still the same.

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