A few weeks ago I posed the question: to ride or not to ride? Thanks to everyone who took the time and made the effort to respond with their own experiences and struggles, it was appreciated! As you may know, I struggled with the pros and cons of getting back into the saddle, but things often have a way of sorting themselves out, and sometimes answers have a way of appearing in the most unexpected ways.
I’ve been plagued with injuries this year. I slipped and fell hard in March, I toppled out of the second floor of the barn in July, I’ve sustained a concussion in September and in the past month I’ve tripped and fallen not once, but twice. These last two falls were so close together that the bruising from the first hadn’t vanished before I was once again looking up from the ground wondering why…why do I keep kissing the pavement?
If you didn’t know me you’d be tempted to think that I’m one of those accident prone idiots with two left feet who lacks the basic coordination skills required to carry themselves safely along in life, never mind the saddle. You might be tempted to judge me and say I have no business working around large, agile creatures like horses. But you’d be wrong. I am, or at least used to be, an extremely coordinated individual. I could go toe-to-toe with any prize fighter when it came to fancy footwork, speed and agility and I prided myself on my ability to out-maneuver the best that my four-legged friends could throw at me. So, how did just walking around become so challenging? Well, I’m no doctor, but I’d say that the first injury did some major damage and each subsequent injury just made things worse.
So, what to do?
Smart money says that if you have an injury you need to rest and allow your body time to sufficiently heal before putting it through the rigours of the daily grind, especially riders. But, as I lay on the ground cursing myself and my two left feet, it occurred to me that my absence from the saddle is, according to me and me alone, the reason for my downward slide into chronic instability. Riding, particularly good riding, builds strength, balance, coordination and most importantly stability. Riding is a sport and as such it creates and maintains healthy muscle structure which keeps us safe both on and off a horse. Improving muscle strength and core stability is one of the reasons riding therapy programs exist and are so successful.
Knowing an injury is comprising my security in the saddle makes climbing aboard a tough thing to do, especially knowing that any mistake I make can be potentially devastating, but realizing that keeping my body moving might help it get more coordinated is a pretty compelling argument for getting back in the saddle. I’m not saying that it’s the answer for everybody suffering with breakdowns, but truth be told, I miss my saddle and my horses! No one, no matter how coordinated can avoid every looming disaster, but If I’m going to keep on crashing I’d rather it be caused by ponies four legs not my own two.
For me, for now, the answer to the question is…to ride!