Friday, October 16, 2009


I will not go out of the house without eyeliner and lipstick on. As a matter of fact, I have said to my bosses over the years that if I could get my eyeliner on, I would be in the office; if I couldn’t, then I wouldn’t be in. I think Billy Crystal’s Fernando character says it best: “It’s better to look good than to feel good!” Didn’t matter how sore or tired I was from my lessons, my eyeliner and lipstick were on, hair fluffed, outfit coordinated. You sweat a lot when you ride and the barn is hot in the summer. Thank goodness for waterproof eyeliner and mascara!

I couldn’t wait to get to the stables. There is a certain child-like freedom in stepping in muck and getting dirty. The smell of the hay and manure as I pulled into the parking lot would get my heart racing. It’s unfortunate that the smell permeated my clothing, my hair, my car. Febreeze became my new best friend.

After a month or so of private lessons, I was allowed to join a group lesson. I think my instructor was getting a bit fed up with my lack of progress and needed other distractions. I loved being in the adult group lesson! I got to meet other people who were beginners like me. I was the oldest “beginner”, with the average age around 30. Needless to say, they were in much better shape than I.

My introduction to the group was memorable. “Hello! Hello! I am new!” My classmates were already mounted, warming up. They were courteous but cautious. I led GM into the paddock and stood with her, feeling like an idiot, while everyone else walked or trotted around me. I was waiting for my instructor to hold GM, as she had a tendency to move when you mounted. My impatience got the better of me and I positioned the mounting block next to her, got on it and put my foot in the stirrup. True to form, GM took two steps forward before I could complete getting on her. I got off the block, repositioned it, stepped back up and put my foot in the stirrup. Again, GM walked two steps forward before I had a chance to fully engage the stirrup and mount. I swear I could see her smirking at me. Well, I was not going to be outsmarted by her Highness! So, I positioned the mounting block a little AHEAD of the normal position, stepped up on the block and basically catapulted myself into the stirrup and saddle as she started walking away. So close…..

My plan would have worked except for one minor detail. The damn girth. Tack 101 – check the girth before you mount!!! The saddle slowly slipped down GM’s side as the full weight of my body was applied to the stirrup. It came to rest pretty well under her belly. Excruciating pain ripping through my right leg as I tried to avoid tripping on the mounting block. GM was walking away with me hopping beside her, my foot still in the stirrup, my arms flailing around. Nice. A classmate did eventually come to my rescue, got me untangled, repositioned the saddle and got me on GM before my instructor came out. Whew!

My right leg was killing me. I could not put any pressure on it. I managed to fake my way though the class, always positioning myself behind my instructor so he couldn’t see me. By the time I got home, my leg was quite swollen. I iced it and elevated it for a couple of days, but realized that I needed to see a professional. Physio for a month and no riding! Crap.

What was I thinking…..?

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