I’m recovered enough from my accident that I no longer thing about my injuries. There are a few things my ankle or my shoulder object to doing, but mostly I feel pretty good. Harder than recovering from the physical issues has been dealing with the residual anxiety. I have a pretty active imagination, and a lot more data about how much can go wrong, how quickly it can happen, and how much it can hurt.
People still are surprised that I didn’t stop riding. I mean, really? The view from the back of a horse is pretty amazing and very little compares to a good gallop (or even a walk) on your favorite horse. Looking at the process now, I think there are a few important steps to take — keeping in mind that everyone’s recovery happens at your own pace.
Start by riding a steady, non reactive horse. Preferably not too high off the ground. In my case, I was lucky to have access to Curly, who is as rock solid as they come. Comfortable, too. Stay riding the quiet horse until you feel secure and strong enough to move “on”. Or not. There’s nothing that says that it’s more fun to ride a horse that’s reactive, spooky or full of energy just because that’s the ride you liked when you were 16. In my case, I started riding Zelda a few weeks after starting to ride again, but I waited to get on Freedom.
Take as long as you need and don’t feel like a whimp if you don’t feel ambitious. Many years ago I broke
my hand while jumping. For awhile, I was afraid to jump. My trainer told me that when I got bored on the flat, I should trot over a cross rail. When that got boring, I should try something larger. Eventually, I started to foxhunt and spent many happy years jumping everything in sight.
After my accident, I waited until this spring to hunt. I wasn’t sure how secure I’d feel if Zelda let loose with a few good bucks. Despite my nerves, hunting was a blast. Yes, Zelda was a handful, but she also
took good care of me. I’ve jumped a few things in the ring and will probably do a cross country schooling, but I’m not sure if –or when– I’l jump again in the hunt field. I think the final lesson is that you shouldn’t be afraid to change your goals. It’s okay to step back if that’s what you want (I have a few other friends who agree that as we age we’re a bit less, well, ambitious). The most important part about getting your mojo back is having fun.