I started back at work this week after a 5 week hiatus. I have to admit that it was sort of nice getting back into a routine. There was not too much of a mess and, frankly, I am at that stage in my life where I try not to stress too much....I only have two hands and one brain. The mess will eventually be cleaned up. :-)
I RODE LAST NIGHT!!!!! Yipee! I couldn't take it any longer. I was told that I could start riding in next week's lesson, but what's 4 days...really? I was actually a little nervous! I had butterflies (more than usual) in my stomach driving to the stables.
I met Jean at the stables and we went out into the pastures to retrieve the horse she was going to ride. It was so peaceful walking in the warm sun in amongst the horses. She had no problem haltering the school horse and we walked back without incident. This exercise actually helped calm me down a bit. Jean and I tend to become Chatty Cathy's when we are together and our conversation took my mind off of riding.
Once back at the barn, we put Gem in the cross-ties and started our grooming routine. Jean had to bring my tack to the back of the barn and she actually had to put the saddle on Gem as I can't lift anything yet. This is quite a feat for Jean considering that Gem is 16.2hh and she is 5'4". :-) Time to ride. Hmmmm, what am I missing? Oh, my helmet! I find it interesting that after only 5 weeks, you can forget a normal routine. Jean suggested that we ride in the arena....a more controlled environment. I appreciated her suggestion.
Gem tried to rush me a bit walking down to the arena and I had to correct him. When we got to the entrance of the arena, he reached over and pulled out the whole container of flowers from it's urn - sigh. Now it was time to mount. Jean stood in front of Gem while I mounted, as a safety measure. Apparently, he has been side-stepping on occasion when she tried to mount him. It actually felt a little awkward putting my foot in the stirrup and swinging my leg over. I felt slightly uncoordinated. Once in the saddle, there was a nano-second of anxiety because of how high up I was.....and then it disappeared. Whew. Off we walked.
I spent the next 40 minutes getting used to being on my boy again, just as he was getting reacquainted with having me on his back. I re-familiarized myself with his body and movement. My brain started to recognize what we were doing and my body started to relax into the appropriate position. My hips adjusted to being in the saddle and my rigid spine started to loosen up. We walked around the arena beside Jean and her horse. I worked at having his head slightly tilted inside and I used my legs to steer him. I also did a little reining to turn him in small circles. He was actually quite responsive. The only resistance I got (and it was very minor) was the couple of times I asked him to trot, which I wasn't supposed to be doing in the first place. Oops. Maybe he knew I wasn't supposed to be trotting! :-) Each time, we trotted once around the arena. It was fantastic! It was like riding a bike - it all started to come back to me! If my body hadn't started to betray me, I would probably still be riding him! :-)
Jean and I went for an adult beverage after our ride. We talked about her challenges with Gem (I saw them first-hand), but how she felt that riding him has improved her riding skills and confidence. She has a much better appreciation of what I am up against. However, she now completely understands why I went for a horse like Gem; one that would provide a slight challenge to help me actually learn how to ride. We reminisced and laughed at some of his antics and mischievous ways. Jean admitted that she loved Gem and she is going to miss riding him regularly. I am very grateful that I have friends that really care about my horse and appreciate his quirkiness. Having LA, STA, Jean and my grooming friend step in and take care of Gem while I was laid up was wonderful. I want to share one of my favourite quotes:
"There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women." Madeleine Albright
I actually live that quote and the above-mentioned ladies do too - they will not be going to that "special place". My surgery has highlighted how lucky I am to know them.