Getting Back in the Saddle
As equestrians, we get to experience some really cool things. The overwhelming feeling of freedom when the wind blows through your hair riding your trusty steed through a wide open field, the pure bliss of a quick muzzle snuggle with your fur-baby, or the joy of bringing home a blue ribbon (or, any ribbon) from a show that you know you and your horse worked so hard for. We also get to experience some, not so cool things. Like, falling off.
Sometimes it’s a minor fall – you were able to land on your feet, or you somehow (in slow-motion, of course) rolled off the side and landed just right where you didn’t hurt anything. Sometimes it’s a fall that makes you laugh and think “What the heck happened there?”, and you immediately hop back on. Sometimes it’s your fault. Sometimes your horse is just being fresh. And sometimes, it’s a really bad fall. I’ve fallen off my horses plenty in my lifetime (maybe more times than I care to admit?), but for the most part, I’ve been lucky. Most of them have been those falls that I laugh off and count my lucky stars that I was okay. But this past month, I had another fall. And this time, it was a bad one. It was the kind of fall that not only messes with your body, but it also messes with your spirit. And we talk about helmet safety and how to protect your body, but we don’t really talk about how we protect our hearts. You know, the “crazy horse girl” heart that’s been beating through your little wild chest ever since you were well, a little crazy horse girl.
It was honestly the bit of a perfect storm. I hadn’t ridden my 7 year old Quarter Horse Stiletto in a hot minute, and I was trying to fit a quick ride on a busy morning. It was windy and chilly, and she was feeling just right. We were doing just great, and when I least expected it she had a bit of a bucking bronco moment. Now let me just say that one thing I love about Stiletto is that she gives things her all. When Stiletto has a bucking bronco moment, she also gives that her all, and I didn’t stand a chance. Don’t worry, I was wearing a helmet, but I landed on my back hard. One trip to the ER and two days in the hospital later, I thankfully only had a bulged disc and a very bruised back. Despite my luck, I had gone from riding that morning to walking with a walker that evening. I could barely move and in the moment I didn’t feel so lucky.
Now, post-recovery I’m so thankful that it was a quick process for my body, and I’m so thankful that nothing worse happened to me. But I’m going to be honest with you: I’ve struggled with getting back on. I still haven’t. It’s going to take me a little bit of time. And I’ve never been the one who is afraid to hop back into the saddle. But this fall really broke my spirit, and I’ve been feeling guilty that I get a little emotional about it. This was the type of fall that makes you question everything: your passion, your horse, why you do what you do, etc. And I hate even putting that to paper, but I think this is part of the healing process for me, or at least I hope it is.
These past few weeks, it’s been hard for me to really understand where this was coming from and what to do next. I’ve been riding my whole life! Why was I afraid? I didn’t want to see Stiletto. I was mad at her. Why did she do that to me? Come on, girl, I give you SmartCookies, you’re supposed to love me! I even hate to admit it, but for a little bit I thought about if this fall was a sign that my equestrian passion was just a chapter of my life, and not the whole book. Was I supposed to close this chapter? And I felt really guilty for thinking that.
The reason why I’m writing this, is because if you are like me and you are going through what I’m going through, know that you are not alone in your thoughts, and this is normal! I’m thankful to have my SmartPaker family, where my co-workers encouraged me. I went and visited Stiletto, and while my body was still healing, my soul and my heart are starting to heal too. She is still sweet (proof in the picture), even though every once in awhile she is sour. I truly do not believe that our chapter is over yet, and even though I got knocked down, I will be back in the saddle again. Hopefully I’ll be able to share that part of our journey, too, but for now it’s going to be a lot of brushing, treating, and healing.