Friday, April 11, 2014

This is what middle age and chronic illness looks like ... apparently.

Last weekend I was taking my Manual Ligament Therapy course and the school had written on a white board some of their upcoming classes and one of them just said "Trick Riding" for this weekend.  I asked what it was and they said stuff like standing up on a horse while it trots, etc.  I figured there was no way I could do it but I asked some more questions and one of the teachers (who'd taken the class last year) said not to worry, they wouldn't have us standing on the horse in the first class or even going up on our knees or anything.  It will just be fun stuff and learning how to fall and doing emergency dismounts.  So, I signed myself and my daughter up.

But I forgot that at this time last year my daughter had such a bad phobia of horses (after my fall in Jan. '13) that she wouldn't even get out of the car to be in the same barn with ponies who were quiet and tied up.  So, not surprisingly she got very anxious and said she didn't want to take her class.  So, I gave it away to my husband's BFF who has been making and effort to "try lots of new things".  But just in case I packed her helmet and told her if it looked like fun and she changed her mind she could have my lesson time.  Unfortunately, for me it only took ten minutes and she started edging toward the ring with a strained look and Gino, the instructor asked, "Do you want to ride now?" and she said, "Yes! Please!" and I had to hold to it and hop off the horse and give her a chance.

To be honest I wasn't sure if I could do it.  When I got there, Gino (the instructor) said I was going to be going up on my knees on the horse and I said I wasn't sure I could do that cause I'm old and breakable and he blew that statement off and said, "Sure you can."  He showed me how to sit on the horse and hold onto the handles on the vaulting harness - and it's quite different from Dressage - you have your legs straight and out to the side and point your toes.  I asked him why and he said it's just a look, just like riders have a heels down look, vaulters and trick riders point their toes.  He said the legs out were a way to learn to balance without holding on with your legs at all so you have to balance right at your core.  But it's also "a look".

I was pretty worried at first because you have to kneel on the horse and support your body with your arms and feet and with all the joint damage in my wrists I was worried about that.  I also worried I wasn't strong enough.  As it is my core is getting nice and strong but I have a lot of strength training to do still for my legs and my upper body as far as "push-ups" and "bench press" muscles go.  I can carry a 125 lb bale of hay but that's more core strength.  So, now I want to work on before the next clinic next year.  But the point is I did it!  And it felt really good!  Nine years ago when I was struggling just to be able to grasp things in my hands or walk up and down stairs because the Rheumatoid Arthritis had hit me so badly, I was concerned I would never be physically strong again.  I also had years of re-occuring nightmares of being crippled.  So, to be able to get out and do this class was awesome!  And I did pretty well for a middle-aged woman and really well for a middle-aged woman who is technically "disabled".   Yay! Life is good.


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