There’s just no denying it. From spending more on their horse (who is often better dressed) than themselves, to waking up at ungodly hours to get ready for a show (where for many the only reward is a $2 ribbon), to being able to call up their vet, farrier and trainer’s numbers from memory, but not being able to remember their office number, it’s clear horse people are more than a little crazy when it comes to their equine obsession. But there’s one more side to this irrational behaviour that puts horse people in a category of crazy all their own – their inability to think rationally when it comes to riding injured. I’ve seen riders, amateur and pro alike, ride when they’re sick, have strained muscles or even broken bones!
I fell into that category this week when I decided to ride despite the fact I was nursing a somewhat debilitating injury. It’s an old rotator cuff injury that flares up some times (usually if I overdo it) and the night before I was slated to head out to the barn it swelled up and the pain was so excruciating it kept me up most of the night. Instead of calling off my ride, I popped a few anti-inflammatory a few hours beforehand and headed out to the barn anyways.
I couldn’t really lift my left arm more than about two inches, but that didn’t hinder grooming too much, mostly because I am completely spoiled and my sister Jen, Luc’s owner, tends to groom and tack him up for me. Even when I was showing on the ‘A’ circuit I never had that kind of princess treatment. Admittedly it’s a pretty nice perk. I get to cuddle and snuggle with Luc while she gets covered in dirt and horse hair!
Considering I was injured I decided on an easy, relaxed, short ride. Naturally that means bareback, right? In the arena with the scary monsters on a horse who is notorious for his spring silliness. Putting aside how I was going to get with only one arm aside, I still didn’t see it as being a dumb decision. Others around me didn’t agree, but in the end I won out (if you consider that winning).
Amazingly enough I was able to get on with relative ease considering my condition. Using the bright orange mounting block I leapt onto Luc and pulled myself over and upright into a sitting position faster than the first time I tried it a few months ago. Of course I did end up booting Luc in the butt on my way over, but in my defence he had started reversing at that point which caught me a little off guard. About a minute after I got on it finally dawned on me I may be making a big mistake. Luc was forward, with his head up and eyes bugged out. I was sure spring silliness was about to ensue, and with only one functioning arm and no saddle and stirrups for extra support I was concerned I may end up in the dirt.
Thankfully Luc settled relatively quickly after he realized we weren’t going down to the scary end. I do have some measure of self-preservation, which really only extended to being smart enough not to take him down to his trouble zone while I was injured and riding bareback. I walked and trotted for maybe ten minutes, doing a small amount of later work as well. He felt relaxed and I was feeling confident, so I decided to canter – something I haven’t done bareback since I got back into riding.
I grabbed a little mane and asked for the canter. Luc gave me a smooth transition and an even smoother canter. It’s the nicest canter I’ve had from him in the arena yet. I didn’t canter for long, just once around a 20-metre circle, but boy did it feel great! We did the same in the other direction and I called it a day. Apart from my shoulder being a little sorer than when I started, the ride was a complete success! There was one other tense moment where things could have ended badly, but thankfully didn’t. About halfway through our ride I had let Luc stop to scratch (mostly because I didn’t want him reefing on my arms) and he decided to channel his inner dog, lift his back leg and try to scratch behind his own ear – leaving me teetering sideways before Jen came to put a stop to it. I also ended up completely covered in horse hair by the time I got off. Black breeches, a white horse and shedding season don’t make for a great combination.
So dumb or not, I’m proud to be among the ranks of those crazy horse people and don’t plan on seeking treatment anytime soon.