I'd post a picture but my husband would kill me.
I was supposed to come back a week earlier but there is/was a knot in my butt...like a egg that hurt if I placed weight directly on it. So I decided to stay off it and made a point of massaging the ****ed thing trying to dissipate it.
Anyhow I didn't think I was afraid to ride again. But I gotta confess a darkness was settling over me, into me and there was fear growing.
Finally, my instructor wrote and I thought, this is where the rubber meets the road. Time to get back to what I love.
I went back on Friday - hottest day in the western world - 95 and humid. The sweat was pouring off me. My horse was covered in dried sweat and caked on mud (he's a mud slut) but he was waiting. So I set to grooming him slowly slowly...and then I saddled him up and he and I walked over to the arena with the rest of the class. I had a talk with him - he's a good boy - an easy horse who isn't terribly forward (unless we're on a trail where he finds his inner mustang). We slowly walked over, much slower than everyone else.
The arena had been soaked down a bit and it was dark and humid but cooler than outside. I regirthed one last time (he likes to puff up - he's not to be trusted in the slightest in that way). And I climbed aboard Mr. Braveheart, and my heart commenced to palpitating like mad. My skin started crawling.
I didn't know I was afraid until I was in the grip of it. Fortunately I had taken some centered riding lessons and this is where they came into play. I started communicating with him through my body. I told him - slow and steady my darling, easy now, I dropped my stirrups and did some stretching exercises while he slowly walked. I started feeling better. When we went into a trot he was wonderful, slow and steady. As he got excited when we changed direction, again, I used my body to tell him slow now my darling slow and sat back in my saddle easing him with tiny half halts. Everything easy.
I thought of one of the responses I read in another thread about one rider who after a bad fall, just walked her horse around and around and around until they were both bored out of their skulls enough to try to do something else. This came to mind... perhaps this is what we'd have to do for a time.
By way of explanation I'm 66 and I had taken some serious falls this spring, two of them on horseback, one of them on the horse I was riding on Friday (although that one was an easy one - a light fall on a trail). But it was my last fall, during a dressage class three weeks ago that really laid me out, hurt me badly and in addition my confidence took a serious dive.
Only I didn't know I was afraid until Friday, when I was finally back on a horse. We took it easy...trotting, changing leads, half circles, trotting some more. All easy easy easy. '
Finally, we were going to do some western dressage circles - at a trot. Then coming to a stop. Then at a lope if we wanted to. The trot was fine. But the lope I found my mouth had gone dry. I was afraid. So I went into a trot instead. But as we moved, he was being so good and I was feeling so good, I thought, lets get around this little curve and try a tiny lope and see how it goes. And so we did. ANd so I did. And we did a tiny bit of a lope in that direction. And then, next time, we did an even better tiny bit of a lope in the other.
On my way home, I realized the knot hurt but my heart - it was like a great heavy blanket had been lifted off it and I knew I could ride and I would ride. And I will.
THANK YOU ALL - You have no idea how helpful this forum was to me; how all your advice and support stayed in me, how I mulled it over and kept reading here.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want in my life, where I want it to go and where ever it goes, I want it to be with horses. I will be the horsewoman I will be, whatever that is. I'll take each step in my own time. I intend to ride the giant again, if only because I loved him, that great beast and I loved being waaaay up there for a little while - like a cherry on a sundae. I won't try to do more than I can do, which is where I went wrong. My body said stop and I said "did you say something?".
If posting makes me tired, I'll stop and rest. If I'm not up to English Dressage then I won't do it again. But I will try it one more time, if only because I want to try.
THANK YOU ALL - bless your hearts.