Monday, July 16, 2012

Fear of Falling

How can you not love that face?

I had another appointment with my sports doctor today. Again, I pretty much could have predicted the outcome: no running for another month at least. I go back in mid-August, and hopefully these weird twinges I get will have stopped or at least become less frequent. It’s not even that it hurts, exactly, but something still doesn’t feel quite right and certain movements make me aware of it: opening doors, bending over if I plant my right leg first, and for some odd reason flushing the toilet. Go figure.

You probably remember that after my last appointment, I got back in the saddle. I was so excited that I sort of ignored the warnings the first time. So three days later I rode again even though I was sore from the first attempt…and then I really noticed the soreness. See, the problem is, Sydney is clumsy and my riding muscles aren’t strong enough to mitigate all the little (or big) bobbles that bump me around. So I decided to wait and ask the doctor just to be on the safe side. That was my burning question today, since already knew the answer to running was no.

Well, I explained what happened and waited. First of all, she said she was proud of me for not pushing through it when it hurt. Ha, I guess she knows me and my lack of common sense and restraint too well! But then she gave me the go ahead—to try, once a week (or 10 days). Mostly because she didn’t think I could do too much damage at that interval.

And I’m…happy, I guess. I mean, I do want to ride again. Really bad.

But I’m scared.

Not scared as in, I didn’t get right back on the horse and now I’m suffering the consequences. I did get right back on the horse (pony), which was part of the problem, but the saying exists for a reason. No, I’m not scared of horses. I’m scared of pain.

I don’t want my time in the saddle to be marred by these evil twinges. I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to spend it waiting for the next pang, wondering if and when it will come, always dreading that I’m doing more damage. I can’t focus on my connection with Sydney when I’m so tense and worked up?

Horses are the most intuitive, instinctual animals I’ve ever worked with. They know what you’re feeling. When I’m tense, Sydney is tense. He knows when I’m sad, happy, confident, or losing focus, and he picks up on it. So he gets antsy, too. Which means he doesn’t move as smoothly, and he shies at things that normally wouldn’t bother him—which brings in a whole new question of falling off. I am scared of falling off, not the natural fear I would have had before this injury, but because of the damage it would do. So overall neither Sydney nor I really enjoy our ride.

It shouldn’t be like this. Riding is teamwork, but our team is broken. I know the only way to get my strength and confidence back is to keep trying. This is as much a mental battle as a physical one. It’s not going to come together all at once, but the harder you work the greater the rewards. So I will get back in the saddle (again). I will take baby steps until we find our footing again. Because only once we’re on firm ground can we gallop off into the sunset.
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