Hunt Season is Starting without Me

Norfolk Hunt club

Today was the first day of Spring hunting. Sadly, I’m not quite ready yet. In most ways, I’m recovered. I no longer have to think about how I’m going to stand up from a chair. I can walk on all kinds of uneven ground without worrying that I’ll fall. I can hike for miles and feel fine. The only thing that still hurts? Riding.

Yup, my left ankle really doesn’t like the continuous pressure and the sideways movement. It really doesn’t like short stirrups. You know, the kind you need for support when you’re galloping cross country. It has made me very angry at my body. I was certain I’d be completely fine by now. Oh yes, and my knee hurts. Not the one that I broke, but the one that I overstressed for all those weeks that I couldn’t use the bad one.

My Physical Therapist tells me my recovery is normal. And that the only way to get my ankle stronger is to ride more. So, at least I have a prescription for riding! I also try to remind myself how far I’ve come. Just enjoy the riding I can do, I say like a mantra.

What I’ve tried so far to make my ankle hurt less: compression socks (they help a bit), three kinds of ankle brace (they range between more uncomfortable to mildly irritating), a knee sleeve (no help at all), riding with very long stirrups (that helps, but doesn’t give me the security I need to hunt, and I don’t want to feel loose in the sadde), and avoiding posting trot (cantering and sitting trot are better).

The one thing that’s helped? KT Tape. When I leave the house to ride, I look like I have an exoskeleton on my right leg. My ankle is taped. My knee is taped. Amazingly, those strips of tape give me enough support that I think I’ll be ready to hunt soon. Maybe in the next two weeks.

Now, the trick is to get Zelda skinny enough to wear her hunt saddle.

As for the photo? The image is from a vintage postcard that I found featuring the Norfolk Hunt Club, which is the next hunt over from Old North Bridge Hounds. This image is probably from the 30s or 40s — the card was never mailed and there’s no date on it. The funny thing about foxhunting is, you really can’t tell because everyone still dresses the same way (although most people now wear helmets with straps).

What have you done when riding with an injured ankle? And please don’t say ride without stirrups. That’s fine for around the barn, but for foxhunting? I’d never do that intentionally!

9 thoughts on “Hunt Season is Starting without Me

  1. I’m so sorry you’re laid up. I feel the same way, I spent two days in the hospital last week after a colonoscopy went a bit awry….I won’t bore you with the details but I was one sick puppy.
    So I do understand the feeling that one’s body is betraying one.
    This may sound very strange, but when various parts of me hurt, I wear magnets. Sometimes I tape round magnets to the spot, sometimes I wear the bracelets you can get at Walgreens, and I even filled a bandana with magnetite (magnetic rocks) to tie around the offending body part. Maybe it’s placebo effect but it helps me a LOT.
    As for the post card…the best way I’ve found to tell the difference between a modern day photo from one from the 30’s etc is to look at the tack, especially the bridle. Flat leather tack was all you could get back then. Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer flat leather tack, but I will admit that today’s synthetic materials aren’t so apt to mold, mildew or dry rot.
    And perhaps I am mistaken, but I don’t see a saddle pad under the saddle of the middle rider. That was back in the days when one’s saddle was built to fit one’s horse, and people just didn’t use pads.
    Again, call me old fashioned, but I am happy that the fox hunters…and dressage folks…refuse to change to newer styles. When I see the Western Equiation folks so gaudy you can’t see the horse, or I see someone’s horse in completely pink tack, I gag.
    I’m betting my lunch that the clothing industry would just LOVE to get the dressage people, especially, to go for bling, pink helmets and purple britches sort of gaudy stuff. It would make them a ton of money-which is all they’re interested in. There’s nothing wrong with tradition as long as it’s coupled with modern day things like vet care, feeding, etc.

    1. I will try the magnets. Heck, I’ll try anything that is not expensive or dangerous. The tape helps a lot more than one would think, so maybe it’s also a placebo.

      Astute observation on the postcard. Yes, there are no saddlepads, which is definitely the “old” way of riding. Given that you can spend $$$$ it’s amazing that we survived for so long without those high tech pads. Now, playing Devil’s advocate, there were a lot more horses with sore backs because people really didn’t understand saddle fit. I do think that some (not all) of these new pads address that.

      I’m not a bling person. I see dressage horses now wearing sparkly browbands and it looks wrong to me. But I do like how Zelda looks in her red beta bridle :).

  2. If your therapist said ride, then that’s a great thing! And I hear you on that kt tape. If you apply it right, you can use it to provide support for a hurting limb. Just don’t let it pull on one part of the skin for more than 8 hours, or it will start to irritate, and take a little of the hide off.

  3. Well, you DID say Miss Z is zaftig. She’s earned her red bridle.
    But I, too, don’t like ANY bling on a dressage horse, not on the rider nor on the tack. The idea of dressage is to make everyone look the same so that the judges can concentrate on what the rider and horse are DOING. Not…how fancy does she look.
    When I was a kid, a kid in 4-H could go into a show ring with a grade horse, a worn…but clean saddle, jeans, a shirt, etc…and win. Now? Pfffft. I swear, especially in Western Equitation, the girls look like tarts. 4-H is a fashion show, now.

    1. I’m pretty conservative when it comes to bling. Although I never hesitate to buy a new saddle (I like my red Ghost, too), I’m too cheap to buy fancy browbands or sparkly accessories. My tried and true hunt attire should last for a long time!

  4. I hear you on leaving the tape on. A few years ago I had post tib tendonitis. I wore that tape so much that my skin got really irritated. Learned my lesson!

  5. Yes I agree, tape is awesome! I don’t really like recommending expensive tack, but shock-absorbing stirrups can really help, I know that from experience. Maybe you can borrow a pair of Freejump soft-up pro or another bouncy type of stirrups from someone? (Sprenger bow balance are also great). Another good thing for aching ankles and knees is standing on one foot everytime while brushing your teeth for example. Practise standing on a pillow (one foot at a time) is the next step. Helps more than I could ever imagine! Best of luck, happy riding!

    1. I used to have the Sprenger Bow Balance stirrups and yes, I agree they are quite comfortable. Unfortunately, I decided to only ride in safety stirrups after my accident. Not quite as comfy, but more peace of mind!

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