As I have said previously all I wanted to do was be able to get back to riding at competition’s, so I really should tell you how I managed my first time back riding.
I waited for my last abdominal surgery to be done which was in November 2015 as I didn’t want to start riding and then have to stop again. So we aimed for January, thank god we waited for the new year as I was extremely ill after the surgery and ended up losing a good stone within a week and was in and out of hospital so needed to get physical ready.
I was very fortunate to have so many people offering their horses and support. We also had a very knowledgeable lady called Sarah Harris who has a huge amount of experience with riding for the disabled. Sarah is the chairman of the Stella Hayward Group and offers 3 riding sessions a week in the Dorset area. Without Sarah there is absolutely no way I would have come as far as I have done in such a short time. Sarah has taught me the basics of riding with different aids, the confidence in myself of how to ride again, straightness in the saddle and just generally been there for me all the time with my ups and downs, which there has been many.
I was leant a lovely horse to ride was called Pandora. It was so strange to be getting on a horse I had never seen before when I was in the most vulnerable position. The process of getting to the school and on Pandora was actually quite comical. It was a very stoney, muddy track with a big step at the top so needed at least 3 people pulling and pushing, All good practise for the balance. Then getting me on board…..we had no hoist or ramp at that time (I say at that time, we still have no hoist now) So it was a bit of I will lift this bit, and you grab that bit, good job I really don’t weight much.
I couldn’t believe we were here at this point. Obviously safety was the main concern when I was on Pandora as none of us knew how my body would react. So we had 1 leader and then 2 people to the side of me supporting my legs. We were really doing this, I was sat on a horse walking around an arena. Okay so I wasn’t jumping round my cross country courses or producing a youngster but this was definitely the hardest riding challenge that I had ever been faced with, I couldn’t even let go of the front of the saddle without having a little wobble. It was an amazing moment and so many people were crying but it was such a shock of how weak and pathetic I felt. All these thoughts of how was I actually going to be able to ride on my own, I couldn’t even walk round an arena without needing full support. It was definitely going to be a lot of hard work.
By the end of the session though I managed to walk around with a leader and then Sarah just following behind to make sure I was straight. We had people still around in the arena just incase I did lose my balance but I was not letting go of that saddle!
I only rode for about 20 minutes as we have to be very carful of skin damage and to be honest it was very mentally tiring with all the emotions and concentration. It so important that I get my skin used to the movement of riding again and sitting on a saddle, then also having to check my skin afterwards for any marks….so boring but it would be worse to get a pressure sore then not ride at all.
It was one of the best days and I was so excited to carry on. All the amazing people that helped out that day and for months later did an amazing thing and I will always be grateful.