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Riding, Roman

[Riding] Return to Riding

Three weeks on, my hand still isn't fully healed -- there's a sore, red swollen bit about the size of a silver dollar, and a small hard scabby bit about the size of a penny, and a teensy little bit of still-red fresh scab. Compared to what it WAS like -- basically, it looked like the palm had been through a meat-grinder and then seared -- this is a vast, vast improvement; I'm able to operate without bandages, and get through the day without painkiller.

So I asked the doctor if I could ride this week. The answer was, "I suppose if you really felt it necessary." I suspect I was intended to interpret this as 'wait one more week.' I didn't, and I'm GLAD.

I'd been feeling pretty depressed the past few weeks; I couldn't ride, I couldn't write (I prefer to write with fountain pen in a notebook, rather than on the computer), I couldn't even drive anywhere. Normally when I miss a riding lesson, I go in on the weekend to do stable chores so I still get horse time. But with the injured hand leaving me unable to drive, I didn't even get that in.

It was, in a word, Bad.

But even just driving towards the stables, I felt my spirits lifting.

When I got there, I found my name on the board next to Ladd, so I'm still on Nippy McBiter. Traffic was light, for a change, so I'd gotten there early; obviously, before checking on Ladd, I had to go see Roman.

Who completely gave me the cold shoulder. I went into his stall to pet him, and he turned his back to me. I walked over to scritch him, and he looked the other way, like 'I see no one. There's no one here.' When I finally turned to leave, though, he whipped around and caught my sleeve in his teeth, holding me in place.

I later found out that Roman, having not seen me on lesson nights OR doing stable chores on the weekend for several weeks, had become Extremely Upset. Apparently, last week, he kicked up a major ruckus on Thursday night; he kept poking his head out whenever he heard someone coming, and then when he saw them he made an irritated, disappointed snort and ran his teeth across the grate of his stall and so on. This is when the aisle helper realized the reason Roman was being a pill was that he hadn't seen me in weeks. After hearing this, I spent an extra chunk of time after everything else was done just cuddling with Roman after giving him treats. By the time I left, evidently all had been forgiven.

Ladd, however, was up to his usual terrible ground manners. Worse, there's a reason this horse was nicknamed 'Pigpen' by my instructor when she leased him. When I got him out of the stall, I was horrified to discover he'd not only pooped all down his back legs and into his tail, but then he'd SAT in it. Luckily, having gotten there early, I managed to groom him all clean despite injured hand. Then I was about to go get his tack and get him tacked up... and he pooped again. Luckily, I managed to deal with that quickly, but I swear that horse was snickering.

Got tacked up and out into the ring, and felt a little uneasy at first. Couldn't keep Ladd in place at the mounting block with my left hand, as he quickly realized that hand was injured and would walk away as soon as I tried to mount. I finally convinced him to stay, and got up without trouble, but I felt this was not an auspicious start.

This was going to be a little more laid-back of a lesson; my classmate is a beginner, and I'm only just returning from the injury list. So we worked on steering exercises at a trot... and I was pleasantly surprised that my instructor didn't call out 'more weight in your heels' even once. I spent the weeks I was injured and couldn't go out and do much doing heel and ankle exercises from one of my riding books; evidently, it made a difference.

However, we now were focusing on another habit; I leave my right elbow out just a little too far when riding Ladd, so I'm not quite even. So instead of 'more weight in your heels,' the constant cry I got this time was 'elbow in!' Ah, well. :)

I had not planned to canter, but the instructor asked if I wanted to. I decided to give it a go, first around to the right. The difference in my heels apparently made a huge difference in my canter; I had a proper seat and felt very secure this time. The instructor told me it was the best canter she'd ever seen me do. I did two laps to the right, and then we tried to the left... oh, man. That was a mistake; since cantering left means using the left hand, and the left hand is the injured one... ow. I lost control of Ladd halfway around the first lap, but got enough back to drop him to a trot and then a walk. I said I didn't think I could canter left this week, the instructor understood and we moved on to trotting a course of poles. (Normally I'd be jumping and my classmate would be using ground poles, but we decided to do both of us ground poles because of the injury.)

Still a little shaken, I guess, I completely blew the course the first time. I made it over the poles fine, but Ladd cut the corners worse than I had since I was a rank beginner. I tried to kind of collect myself while my classmate went, and when I went a second time, I tried to focus more, and nailed the course almost perfect. Third and fourth times were okay; good, but not the almost-perfect of the second. Ah, well.

Walked Ladd a bit to cool him down, groomed him, put him away and fed everyone. And spent some quality time with Roman. Then I headed back home, with a huge grin.

I feel like a missing piece of my soul has been restored, if that makes any sense.
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I feel like a missing piece of my soul has been restored, if that makes any sense.

It makes perfect sense to me. Good to see you back in the saddle.

(Bet you that hand heals faster now...)

I didn't realize you rode, actually. Glad your buddy forgave you for abandoning him. ;)

A horse can keep track of days of the week and know what day you're supposed to ride? Wow, how cool. I had no idea they were that smart.
A horse is on average roughly the same intelligence level as a three-year-old child, is what I've been told. If a three-year-old toddler can understand it, a horse probably can, too.

Though for all I know, Roman didn't know that it was 'Thursday' so much as "everyone else who's around when she is has been here today, and she STILL HASN'T!"
That makes sense. It's so neat that he missed you!
Mister Ed says come over to his paddock and say that!
Bah for clueless people who think of all animals as dumb.

Cool for getting back to riding! I never rode consistently (aside from a couple 4-H seasons in high school), but always enjoyed riding when I got the chance.
I feel like a missing piece of my soul has been restored, if that makes any sense.

There are some things we do that make our lives worthwhile, that are where our joy resides. Riding is definitely it for you. I'm glad you're getting it back.