To make a long story short, I've been, perhaps "avoiding" riding for the last few years. There are a few reasons for this but the biggest one is as follows. Two years ago I had the worst fall of my personal life (which really wasn't a horror story or anything I suppose...but enough to shake me up quite a bit). The horse I was riding, Toby, tripped and fell while we were on a 20m canter circle. I did a superman over his head, braced with my forearm and landed on my back at full speed. The wind was completely knocked out of me and I broke my forearm. It took me 5 days off of work to recover, another 8 weeks in a cast, and then I don't know how long in physio to be back to normal. I am super fortunate that this wasn't a worse accident - but it still shook my confidence pretty severely.
Unfortunately after that accident, because of the circumstances, I didn't get back on that night, and I didn't end up getting back on at all. One thing lead to another, and although I helped out at the barn, I just got caught up in all sorts of stuff - chores at the barn, work, social life, etc. and fast forward two years later - no riding.
I always thought about it, it never left my mind. I always made excuses - my biggest one was that not owning, and riding with a coach was useless and a half assed way to participate in the sport. Keep in mind I had been riding for about 15 years prior to this. I had the opportunity to ride in Europe and Alaska when I was a bit younger. I was into driving as well - so switched focus between riding and driving depending on the year.
So that brings us to about six weeks ago. My boyfriend and I think it's really important to give back to the community - so we both took on volunteer projects to help out. He works with Scouts and I decided to go and work with the local therapeutic riding stable. Going out there for the first time reminded me how much riding and being around horses meant to me, so it was at that moment that I decided to start over.
I surfed the web for a couple of weeks and finally landed on what looked like the best facility in the area. It was a facility I had looked at before. I had contacted the owner/coach last October just to put some feelers out (wasn't ready to go back at that point), and she was super super nice, and the information she gave me was great. She was super supportive of my situation, and I got the feeling that she actually knew what I was talking about. I emailed again, and got a glowing response inviting me out.
I went to meet her, and she was FANTASTIC! She really got it, in so many ways. She understood how it was difficult to come back to riding after a hiatus, etc. Anyways, I booked in with her and had to wait 3 weeks to start sessions with her as her time slots are insanely booked (as if that doesn't say enough right there).
Over the course of that three weeks I went out numerous times to watch her lessons, all of which were taught with poise and grace. I also watched a clinic which she rode in - I knew then that I had made the right decision.
My first session with her was this last Saturday morning. The barn was quiet - we were the first two there. We chatted it up the entire time I tacked up, but I was feeling super rushed (I like to take my time and we just didn't have it). I semi-panicked, simply because I like being on time and hate rushing the process - it drives me crazy if I don't have time to do things exactly right. Anyways, by the time we got into the arena I was freaked right out, and for whatever reason the nerves had just got the best of me. I had envisioned that moment so much differently - the calm, cool, collected girl I used to be with a solid seat and an awesome ability to ride...not so much? I went to mount, and the block slipped and fell - crushing whatever nervous confidence I had.
Eventually I got on. It was fantastic. I overcame the canter fear. My muscle memory wasn't totally gone (I'm still paying for that today...LOL). It was a VERY emotional ride, and very mentally exhausting. But I did it...and that's the whole point.
I guess that's the beginning! I ride again with her tomorrow - we'll see how that goes. I'd love this thread to be full of positive motivation, and would love to hear from others who have been through the same thing or similar. It was very humbling not to be the rider I used to be...having to relearn is really hard on the pride. I'm hoping with the right coach and some patience, I'll get it all back, and then some.
PS: It was fairly difficult posting this thread. It would be great to pretend that riding is always tickity boo and perfect, when we all know it's a tough sport both physically and emotionally. I'm hoping that the people who respond keep it as positive as possible...it's hard bearing your soul to the online community, especially when you're not a young spring chicken anymore!