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centrestableswendy 03-11-2009 08:15 AM

Kinda bummed/Am I being unrealistic?
I had a rough night last night after my lesson. My trainer is AWESOME, and I couldn't ask for a better teacher and friend. My lesson itself wasn't what some might consider horrible(didn't fall off, only doing walk/trot anyway), but when I was done, I was sooooo mad at myself. As some of you know from a post back in Dec/Jan, I had wrist surgery Dec 30th. Well, that surgery was botched badly by my surgeon, so now I have a new surgeon. He has put me in a cast from the tip of my left thumb up to my elbow. I am NOT happy about this. All of a sudden, I can't remember what to do with my legs while posting, my hands are everywhere, and I'm second guessing everything else. I have been riding off and on for 19 years, and I am coming back after 7 years off, a bad car accident(with head injury and balance issues that are still ongoing), getting married, having 2 kids, and 4 surgeries (since Dec. 30th). Am I being unrealistic to think that I still have what it takes at 28 years old, after that much time off, and with everything that's going on? I'm obviously not going to be doing any rated shows, nor do I want to. My trainer says that with the way I'm going I will be doing crossrails in local schooling shows at the end of August/beginning of September. My trainer is my best friend, and I know she wouldn't do anything that would hurt me, but I'm losing confidence in what little riding abilities I have. I am leasing her 7 year old OTTB mare, "Stevie". There aren't very many people that want to deal with her, because she is such a "you-know-what". That almost makes me feel better, knowing that I can handle her and make her listen. However, it's not helping my confidence while I'm riding. I know this has been a really long post, and I'm sorry. I just needed to get this out there. I love horses with all my heart, and would be empty without them. I'm just afraid that maybe my time has come to quit dreaming and be realistic.

mls 03-11-2009 09:49 AM

We tend to be our own worst critics.

Trust your trainer. She sounds like a wonderful support system.

Give your body time to adjust after surgery. Reward yourself for every victory. Balancing with a cast on your arm is hard. (I know where of I speak!)

You'll be great!

centrestableswendy 03-11-2009 10:02 AM

Thanks mls. I'm just having a hard time accepting my limitations. Every time I start riding after a break I get so far, and then something happens that I have to take a break again. I feel as though I've spent 19 years learning how to trot! My balance issues are a challenge, but not as bad as I was preparing myself for. When going up or down steps, my equilibrium is off, and I tend to drift to the left without knowing it. If I turn my head too fast, I feel off balance. The worst is when I'm just walking and suddenly feel as though the floor is falling out from under me. I don't want to give up riding, but part of me feels that it would minimize the emotional/physical/mental pain later, if I never get past where I am now. My head injury was from a car accident in august of 2002, where my car flipped twice, rolled over twice, and I landed on my head with the windshield through my face. I required 140 stitches and 40 staples, but am otherwise "ok".

Spastic_Dove 03-11-2009 11:49 AM

You're doing great. Kudos to keeping with it despite your set backs.
Can you work on some cross training that would help you with your muscles and balance? Yoga, Pilates, stair exercises? There are a few books out with exercises for equestrians and these may help you a little

centrestableswendy 03-11-2009 11:54 AM

I wish there were exercises I could do to improve my balance. At this point, all of my balance issues are totally neurological, and there's nothing anyone can do to improve it. My brain took quite a beating, and may never totally be "normal" again. It just makes me sad.

Spastic_Dove 03-11-2009 03:16 PM

Ah, sorry =/ I was'nt sure if that's what you meant or not.
Have you ever thought of maybe a gaited competitive trail horse?
This is totally a shot in the dark mind you. But you said you had trouble posting, but I'm not sure how set you are with English. Gaited horses are great for people with back,knee problems and I would imagine would be easier to balance on. It may be a good confidence builder. If you like working towards some sort of goal like I do (You mentioned schooling show) you could do something like shoot for a 10 mile ride or something. The LDR community, in my experiance, is very welcome of newcommers and it is a great bond for you and your horse. It may be nice to get out of the arena.

I could be completely off base though.
Best wishes. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was seven, so I totally know what it's like to have your brain do completely opposite of what you want it to do.

Don't give up. :)

mls 03-11-2009 03:29 PM


Originally Posted by centrestableswendy (Post 267961)
I wish there were exercises I could do to improve my balance. At this point, all of my balance issues are totally neurological, and there's nothing anyone can do to improve it. My brain took quite a beating, and may never totally be "normal" again. It just makes me sad.

But you try. That is the thing to focus on here. Too many people sit back and simply whine.

P.S. who is to say what 'normal' is these days!

centrestableswendy 03-11-2009 03:36 PM

Thanks everyone. I realize that I'm fighting a losing battle, but I love horses and riding too much to admit it, at least until now. As far as gaited horses, I'm leasing my trainer's horse, and can't afford to buy or lease from someone else. She's been awesome, knowing that I've been off work for 3 months, and isn't worried as much about the money as I am. She figures that she has 2 horses, one of her, college, and work. I'm apparently doing her a "favor" by riding Stevie and keeping her worked. It's not the stride itself that causes issues. It's not knowing when my brain's going to make me bobble, and possibly fall off. I've had so many trainers tell me to give up, because I'm too old, too fat, and don't have enough money to amount to anything. I'm not the type to give up, I'm just beyond frustrated. *sigh*. My trainer is my best friend in the whole worl, and she flat out said I love it too much to give up. She won't let me quit.

smrobs 03-11-2009 04:47 PM

That is great that she won't let you quit. If you are enjoying yourself, does it really matter if you are never a grand prix dressage rider? One thing you might visit with her about is trying western. I find it easier to balance in a western saddle and you don't have to worry about posting. Plus you have the saddle horn and cantle to grab if you lose your balance. It is hard to ride with a cast on. When I was 9, I came off a horse I was riding for a friend of my Dads (while loping down a dirt road) and ended up breaking my left arm in 3 different places. I spent half the summer with pins, screws, and an external fixator and I spent the other half in a cast like yours. It may help to remember that you are just doing this for fun and you don't have to be absolutely perfect. BTW, there is no too old or too fat for horses. They are good for everyone. Just take a step back, take a deep breath, and maybe try some other way to attack this thing. Keep working with your friend, she sounds like she is really good for you. Don't give up. There are lots of other options to look at first.

CJ82Sky 03-11-2009 06:07 PM

I always tell my adult students that it's so much harder as an adult b/c you've developed a very keen sense over the years that we lack as children.....

it's called self preservation!

As a kid our trainer says put your heels down and you do and you flop around and have fun up there and eventually find your balance without ever hearing things like "centered riding" and "pivot point" and "center of gravity" and just figure it out by riding, and riding and having fun and not realizing that your heels are down to teach you to lower your center of gravity and center yourself over the horse. As an adult however, you become KEENLY aware when your heels in fact are not down, and exactly what that does to our center of gravity and why Sally Swift's book about Centered Riding isn't just some silly book our instructor told us to read - it's good, and makes sense.

Then add in the frustration. Great so now as an adult you UNDERSTAND theory, but you still can't make your body do the theory that your mind is telling you to do. What gives?! It's called overthinking that leads to the frustration. The best way I've helped my students overcome this is to keep that kid that goes on and on and on and on and rides and rides and rides and doesn't give up and eventually things will all fall into place just as when you were a kid. Stop thinking about how you must look like a bird flapping around up there and thank the horse for tolerating, and take a deep breath, and remember why it is you wanted to get back into riding in the first place....and just have fun! The rest will all come.

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