There is nothing easy about rehabbing an injury. It’s all about mind over painful matter, and some days, I can do it. Other days, not so much. The Halloween candy in the store is calling out to me but I’m strong — I walk past it, nose in the air. Diet rules! Yet when I get home, I have to urge myself to change into boots and breeches to ride. My knee continues to keep me sighing in discouragement.
This injury has not only cost me physical fitness but I’ve also unfortunately gained weight. Losing time in the saddle has cost me more than physical pain; I’ve found there’s a rather depressing mental anguish that comes along with it, too. I’ve tried to do other things, but it’s useless — when you’ve ridden for over 40 years, there is nothing that you want to do or are good enough at to bother with. I don’t have any other hobbies. Don’t want any. Just want to ride again!
And it’s not enough just to sit there. I want to get right back to where I left off. That’s the whole problem. You fully expect that as soon as things heal up, you’ll be right back to snuff. Unfortunately the more time off the harder it is to return to perfection. At least now it seems that way. I know that healing takes time, yada yada. I’m impatient. I wish I could just wake up and it’s normal again.
After about a month and a half back in the saddle at a very low and basic level, I am trotting 20- and 30-meter circles in an effort to strengthen it and stabilize the quad muscles around the knee. I’ve recently moved up to a bit of canter after warming up for a while at walk and trot, and I’m repeatedly working on lateral stuff to make sure I am staying as even-sided as possible.
My long-suffering partner, Hamish, puts up with my complete crookedness in these endeavors. I have recently switched to the dressage saddle which helps with my straightness and balance, a fact that he does not relish, since flatwork is not his thing.
So both of us stick our tongues out and make a face but I keep grinding away. The good news is Hamish is really getting that doggone walk-to-canter depart thingie down. Now all I do is semi-half halt and off he strikes. The bad news is the walk-canter depart is so automatic it’s now screwed up the trot to canter transition. Gaugh. And he would really prefer to hunt, but that’s completely out at this stage of the rehab game. My modest goal is just to stay on at this point, and if things go at all well, to improve his flatwork a little bit. I am still a long way from riding well. I am only really riding just barely in balance. Who knew it would take this much work?
All thoughts of competing, or even being able to last through a jump lesson, are out, as in “not doable.” That alone is pretty much a downer, because fall is the time of year we can’t wait to get out and ride cross country and jump all the things. To put a complete cap on the downer, today I got the message on my Facebook feed that Windurra is closing the cross-country schooling course on Nov. 1. So it’s going to be next year before I can do that! (Sobs, sorry for herself.)
When thinking more clearly, I search desperately for wisdom and encouragement. I try reading technical stuff. I try the social media groups. I meditate while trying to motivate myself. I think of my horses and what they want to do. I look at pretty pictures or re-read Winnie The Pooh. I think of my friends, and what they are doing and how happy I am for
jealous I am of them. I try to say, “soon” to myself. “Soon.” “It’s coming along.” “It’s getting better.” I try to believe these little phrases.
So at the moment I have a couple of rehab projects in the barn. Really, they are fine, it’s me who needs the rehab. While I am riding a little, I am also walking with them, as they walk for their return to soundness. Both of us out there in the dark and rain, walking. Neither of us like it but we are in it together. We will survive and we will fight for it, right Buddy? Yep. He pulls on the lead rope. He wants a little grass before having to go back in the barn for the night. It’s OK. Go ahead. Stop and have the grass. And while you munch, I’ll dream of one of those little Snickers bars in the Halloween candy bag in the store for a while. And then we go back in.