“No hour of life that is spent in the saddle is wasted.” ~Winston S. Churchill
Yesterday I spent some quality time with Ace getting over a large hurtle for me. In a series of unfortunate events I have not been able to ride Ace consistently this fall and winter. I spent all of last winter and this past summer working with Ace at least 5 times a week to build our relationship and improve his behavior. We were finally in a great place with his ground manners being excellent and him staying quiet and collected while riding. This fall I had a period of time where the muscles in my neck were so tight that they pinched my nerves causing me vertigo. Being dizzy and light headed is not the best recipe for getting on a 1200 pound beast I then had an unfortunate accident involving our large orange Maine Coon trying to kill me. I was walking down the stairs getting ready to put an 18 pound turkey into brine to smoke the next day when I stepped on our cat Jack. I went flying, Jack went flying, and the turkey went flying. This ended in me severely spraining my ankle and being unable to ride for weeks. My Fibromyalgia made this already angry sprain that much worse. Once my ankle was better and I was cleared to ride Ace went lame. After waiting for my horse to also be ready to ride I experienced another accident with the stairs. While walking down the stairs my feet decided that they were done for the day and stopped working. This ended with me at the bottom of the stairs in a pile. At the time I did not think that I had done any damage however, the next day when bending down to pet Olive I found my self unable to stand up straight. I have spent many weeks nursing my back into some resemblance of normalcy. Yesterday my husband went with me to test my barn abilities. I needed to know that I could not only saddle Ace myself without help but also ride him without lunging him. Anyone who knows Ace knows that he has a tendency to be quite spunky and benefits from a good 20 minutes of lunging before being ridden. I saddled him with a few bad words and tears while Ace danced in the cross ties. We walked to the indoor arena filled with four others horses. I walked Ace for at least 10 minutes trying to work up the courage to climb aboard. Once I had walked him and cinched up my saddle, I walked over to the mounting block and prayed for Ace to remember to be gentle. Last winter I would never have thought I would ever get on my horse without lunging him first let alone with an injured back. I got on Ace and asked him to walk. My horse did everything I asked of him. He yielded off my leg collected himself when asked and even trotted politely while never once trying to take off. I had spent all winter trying to get back on my horse that it had become a huge hurtle to overcome. I remember today reminding myself to breathe and relax while riding even thought I was painful. At the end of the ride Ace had been wonderful and we both had relaxed.