It would seem that I was right last week when I mentioned that while I may be older, I’m not really any wiser. This week I did something I haven’t done since my early teenage years. I made the very poor decision to ride even though I was injured. Unfortunately for me, it seems my pain tolerance has gone down the older I’ve become. Back in my glory days (I can say that now that I’m in my 30s, right?), it was nothing for me to hop on even though I was sick, injured or otherwise not in an acceptable riding state. I even remember taking a few lessons with the stomach flu. Toughing it out for the entire hour of what was usually very intense training, before dismounting and promptly vomiting on my way back to the barn.
This time it was my left foot that was the problem. It had started to hurt mysteriously the day before my ride. An annoyance that I hoped would go away on its own. It didn’t. In fact, it escalated to the point where it was becoming painful to walk. Instead of going to the doctor, which would have been the wise choice, I went to the barn. I knew I shouldn’t ride, I’d been telling myself that all day. But instead of listening to my own inner voice, which has proven time and time again to be the smartest part of me, I tacked Luc up.
Ok, so that’s not entirely true. I watched my sister tack him up, while I snapped photos of the start of his spring shed. She graciously offered to be my groom for the day so I didn’t end up covered in white horse hair (thanks Jen!). It was a noble thought, and one that I greatly appreciated since I still don’t have a dedicated barn wardrobe and my significant other is getting a little tired of finding traces of Luc all over our apartment. He doesn’t find the hair, or that accompanying barn smell, eau de horse, nearly as comforting as I do. Too bad I still ended up covered in it anyways. There’s just no escaping it.
Once Luc was all outfitted and ready to go, it was time to get on. I barely made it onto the mounting block. Not because of any nervous butterflies – those are well and truly gone now – but because of the pain in my foot. I should have stopped myself from going any further right there. The pain of climbing the mounting block had been intense, but what I felt getting on was excruciating. My sister says I looked like I was either going to cry or pass out. I wasn’t so sure I wouldn’t do both. Now in all fairness to Jen, she didn’t know how sore my foot was until I was already on. And by then it was kind of too late.
Luc stood patiently for the five or so minutes it took for me to get the pain under control, and then we headed off for our ride. Since I was already on, I decided to make the most of it. Plus I was pretty sure getting off would hurt a lot more than getting on and I wanted to delay the inevitable pain as long as possible. We walked, trotted and cantered and even tried our hand at a few leg yields and shoulder-ins, both at the walk and trot. They didn’t exactly get executed as planned. My aids are more than a little rusty, and were hampered by the pain in my foot. Luc gave it his best effort, trying to understand what I was asking of him.
Then it was time for me to get off. I had devised a plan to slide off Luc and land on one foot. I kicked my feet out of the stirrups, slid my leg over Luc and hoped for the best. Success! I landed securely on my right foot and didn’t feel a single jolt of pain. I still haven’t seen a doctor about my foot, but I am happy to report that it seems to be on the mend. It doesn’t hurt at all anymore and I have an entire week to make sure things stay that way before my next ride.
I’d like to say that I’ve learned my lesson, and that sickness, injury and pain will keep me from riding in the future, but the memory of my sore foot is already fading, and the urge to spend more time in the saddle grows stronger every time I step into the stirrups. Maybe by the time I’m 31 I’ll finally be a little wiser. But then again, probably not.