I was born with deformed feet and bunions on all the joints of all my toes. My first surgery was when I was twelve and the doctor performed a surgery that was improper for my deformities and actually made my feet worse. I have had ten surgeries since then trying to correct the mistake by different doctors (to include Shriners Hospital) and my last two surgeries were within this last year.
Pre-recent surgeries, when I ran I got stress fractures in my legs. When I walked, I got stress fractures in my feet. When I rode, my feet and toes went numb and became unbelievably painful. When I dismounted, shooting pain started at the tops of my feet and ran up my legs. I have only ridden a couple of short times since I was released in June 2008 to full activity. Toes no longer go numb and no more pain when I dismount! I was so happy I cried. However, these last two surgeries have not been a fix-all and there is now permanent nerve damage. To make things worse, I do not have the proper ligaments and muscles on the right side of my right ankle and I fall a lot. A lot! Even on flat surfaces, my ankles will go out on my and I end up on the ground. Usually bleeding somewhere. There really isn't anything else to do for me accept put plates in my ankle. Which isn't guaranteed to work and that means another year of putting off life. I already have two screws in each foot. I will, inevitably, end up in a wheel chair and I will have degenerateive joint disease in my feet. Everything I do at this point puts the inevitable off.
With all the above stated, I am now sixty pounds over weight and am of coarse out of shape. For the last eight years it has been a cycle of exercise to loose weight, getting stress fractures in both my legs and feet, doctors not letting me off the couch for six months, and then released to exercise again. While I do love Yoga and Pilates, it just isn't enough cardio. I love swimming but I have allergies to the chlorine in pools. So that isn't an option either. I love the eliptical, but my toes do not. I have always been very physical and I love exercise. In June 2008, I was release to full activity and I have lost 16 lbs. Still many more lbs to go, but I am positive I can do it. I don't keep candy in the house and don't buy it. I eat whole grain breads and pastas, veggies, and basically a vegetarian diet. My husband always gripes that we don't have any junk food in the house and my mother and inlaws always take pitty on him and feed him all the stuff that I don't "allow" in the house when we visit. I just laugh and continue eating my food.
However, I would rather be dead than not be able to ride or hike. I will have to give up hiking, eventually. However, I refuse to give up riding.
I've decided that I need a horse to help me get up into the mountains and do the "leg work" part of hiking for me. I will have to train one to kneel or lay down for me to mount. I don't necessarily need this right now but I will in the future, so it is good for both of us to learn. I will also need a special saddle made for me. Horses saved my life when I was twelve and I need saving now. People don't understand how depressing it is to give up something that you live for until they are faced with it. I am only 28 years old and am facing it now.
I adopted Cinder this month. She isn't quite trained yet but has impressed me everyday since her arrival. I can't ride her yet but we spend time other ways. Cinder is not "broke" yet either. Cinder and I have a lot of work to do but I know we both can. Today we went for a walk/hike (no riding, just on foot) on the trails with the dogs and my incredibly supportive husband. Within the first half hour, I fell. Slid right underneath her too. However, Cinder did not step on me or spook. Just stopped and looked at me. She helped me up and stood calmly. When my legs started getting weak, she let me put my arm around her withers, grap onto her mane, lean on her, I asked her to "help me", and she just started walking and taking my weight (I'm 190 lbs). Didn't flinch or show any negativity. She knew what I needed and was right there to help me down the trails and through the snow drifts. When I was tired and breathing hard, she slowed or stopped to let me take a break. Cinder got a good idea of why I need her in my life and boy did she step up to the plate. I fell a few more times and she was right there to help me up.
Not only was she great with me but she was great with the dogs too. I have to Chihuahuas and we are baby sitting a mix breed for my friend who is visiting family. My little girl Abby is a scaredy cat of a dog. She just stops dead when she is frightened. However, when my body starts going south, she also takes care of me and checks on me to make sure I'm ok. While doing this, Abby got scared and stopped dead in her tracks because of Cinder. Well, she got caught underneath Cinder. Cinder was great. At the same time, we were walking underneath a fallen tree. Cinder just ducked under the tree and moved her feet around Abby and avoided stepping on her. Scared the hell out of my husband but it all turned out well. My little boy dog, Courage (and he fits his name) decided to run underneath Cinder while we were taking a rest break. Cinder didn't spoke or kick. Just kept grazing. I am so proud of all my kids! And thankful for Cinder.
I know this is kinda long but I had to share this amazing day. Cinder knew my legs didn't work and just said to me "Ok. I get it. I can help, no problem" with her body language. I can't wait to start riding her. Based on todays actions, I know she will take great care of me out on trails!