Without question, it’s been a challenging few weeks between Ace’s high ringbone diagnosis and my fall off Wynne.
While I realize this makes me akin to a unicorn, I’ve never had a lame horse, at least not one with a diagnosis of something degenerative. Certainly my time has come.
It’s times like these when you realize how blessed you are by those you choose to surround yourself with, or alternately, those willing to stay within a fairly close proximity to you despite knowing you well.
A couple days after my fall, I met my childhood friend Anita for what I requested as a “slow, flat walk, please.” I was stiff and sad but I needed to move and feel like I’d done something more than felt sorry for myself for another day. Anita hugged me when we got out of our cars at the park.
God, did I look that bad? (Anita is many things, but a hugger she is not.)
I ducked between two parked cars and showed her the hematoma on my outer hip (this sounds better than “lower butt cheek”) because that is the kind of friend I am.
We had a slow, flat walk. It was therapeutic.
Facebook friends offered kind and practical advice–
[blockquote cite=”Zoe but let’s face it, Ralph Waldo Emerson beat her to it” image=””] Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. [/blockquote]
[blockquote cite=”Lucy” image=””] So long as you don’t repeat the mistakes learned from the experience, and put the lessons-learned to good use, then it was at least a valuable exercise. Although scary, this type of experience is also the most rewarding in the long run – and in many cases what keeps us coming back for more. [/blockquote]
[blockquote cite=”Angie, I am embarrassed to say my inner voice never thought of this; it’s brilliant and insightful and so practical” image=””] This is when I just throw up my hands and pretend I’m watching it all in a movie and think, “I wonder what will happen next?” … Console yourself with the idea that the odds always play out. I had some horrible luck in a bad streak but sure enough, followed it up with 7 years of SMOOOOTH sailing. Kinda looks like now I’m getting some more of the crap luck out of the way. Seriously though, there’s things I just don’t do when I’ve got 2 sound horses doing well in competition. You just can’t waste that, right? So, now I’m spending more quality time with my parents, doing lots of repairs & upkeep on the old homeplace, just trying to get caught up. I wrote a story about what to do “between horses”. [/blockquote]
[blockquote cite=”Chrystal knew just the right thing to say. She told me some other things, more private, but equally uplifting and kind” image=””] If you are having bad horse related accidents every 15 years then you are good to go for another 180 months!!! Start being afraid in 160 months (that would just be wise), but don’t start now! It is absolutely no good to try and pass yourself off as a serious long distance rider if you do not need to visit the hospital with horse related accidents every once in awhile so actually this takes care of that for awhile … [/blockquote]
Work left me hitting the road just a few days after my fall. I met Rachel for dinner the second evening, not sure I’d last long, still feeling sort of tired and wrung out from a day of work. A concussion will do that.
Without intending to, I imagine, she said the most incredibly comforting thing to me. She told me she wasn’t really worried about me. She knew I’d learn from what happened and work from there without further incident. That I’d be okay.
And mostly she listened.
She listened to me prattle on about not feeling afraid, but feeling afraid that I would feel afraid. I think anyone who has been afraid on a horse can relate to that. In my bad fall off Ned fifteen years ago –was I ever really once in my early thirties?– I was afraid for months. It was awful. Paralyzing. I’m still not quite sure how we worked through it.
She listened to me talk about treatments for Ace, what we were doing, what we might do, what this person and that person thought. I do not recall her offering an opinion at all.
It was so kind.
That night I came across a blog. It was written by someone about their mother’s caretaker in hospice as she passed from this life to the next, but it informed the special gifts given by those who gathered around me, gently, while I was having this difficult time.
It made me realize that I was not always so great at holding space, not for myself, not for others. I got too busy fixing, having expectations, looking at what might happen next. Trying, always, to stay one step ahead of the next thing that might go wrong. For me, for others.
So that is going to be my mission these next couple of months as life shakes out with iffy horses and unclear plans.
- Take one day at a time with Ace. I’ve joked with my husband that at this point I’ve thrown a lot of pudding at the wall in the hopes some would stick. In other words, we’ve started a lot of therapies for Ace. Rest (five plus weeks at this point), major shoeing change, Cosequin ASU, Adequan, Legend and just last night, a hyaluronic acid/steroid joint injection. That seems an adequately solid whack to the pocket book for now, but there are more options. I’m going to test my theory that horses don’t lose appreciable conditioning for six weeks but I must admit, with all this time lounging in the pasture, Ace has a healthy reserve of fleshy goodness.
- Speaking of reserve, I was right back to the gym this week, and Den didn’t hold back and give me a wussy Boot Camp workout. (Seriously, can you have a “wussy” Boot Camp workout? Seems oxy-moronic.) He checked in about my brain and where I’d landed and then proceeded to challenge the heck out of me. We used this torture device called a vibrating power plate, with a floor plate that moved as you did planks, lunges, tricep dips — he asked if it was rattling my gray matter too much — it wasn’t, although it made me believe I needed a face lift and jiggled some other parts I’m not talking about. Did I mind? Heck no! Must admit that it was a little demoralizing to have my loose and flabby Grandma-triceps fail me during the middle of two sets, leaving me sitting on the gym floor, but we all must start somewhere! (My inner voice finally landed on that conclusion after chiding me a bit for “giving up.”)
- Hold space for Wynne. Bought a new combination Myler hackamore/bit and truly do look forward to riding him and doing some ring work with him. In the strangest way, we are a good match, although he will always be Rich’s horse. But I am going to have another quiet ride or two on Ace or Ned before I swing a leg over him.
- Enjoy all the IMPORTANT things that I miss out on when I’m competing two horses and in the thick of training and conditioning. Time with my friends, time to ride and fuss at Ned as he tolerates it, time with my nieces, in my yard, on my porch, by my brother’s pool with a trashy magazine, with my eldest dog who will not be here forever. Crewing the heck out of my husband and his horses as he enjoys this competition season, being amongst my Dysfunctional Endurance Family.
Hold some space for each of them. The gift of time in an unexpected package.
And last but not least, I am going to try to be kind to myself as I fiddle my way through the above. Or try to be somewhere near as nice to myself as those I call my friends are. Big shoes to fill.
I’m bound to screw up.
That’s okay. This is all a work in progress, after all.