I finally made it to the barn last night to ride, feeling about 85%. Sometimes after being sick you have to push through the lethargy afterwards. It was my night to feed sups to Cassandra's horses, so I really didn't have much of a choice.
However, I did feel up to riding, so I changed and drove over. I love it when I walk in and Ashke isn't paying attention and I get really close before saying his name. His head shoots up and his nostrils flicker, then he whinnies. This horse does not have a quiet nicker. He has a full blown whinny. I opened the door to say hi and gave him a couple of carrots. Then I shut the door and went to set up buckets. He whinnied non-stop until I finally pulled him out and stood him in the grooming stall where he could watch me walk back and forth between the wash stall and the tack room while I filled buckets. He was perfectly happy as long as he could see me. I got the buckets set up and then grabbed my grooming bag.
He is shedding. A lot. Everything in my life is covered in white hair right now. I took my time and made sure I got all the itchy parts, just spending time making him feel good and loving on him. Then we tacked up and headed for the indoor. It was fairly warm outside, although there was some cornball snow falling, the ground was partially defrosted and there were pools of water and ice mixed together. When we got to the indoor, I was really surprised by how cold it was inside. I could see my breath in the air.
We didn't ride for very long. Ashke was very responsive to my ask and gave me a somewhat bendy walk and trot in a 20 meter or so not-so-much-circle. We did off the rail work and changes of direction. After twenty minutes or so, I asked for a canter. He picked up the correct lead and it was soft and willing and he kept going until I asked for a transition down. He was bringing his head down and lifting with his back. We turned and went in the other direction and he did the same thing. The canter was so perfect that I called us done and took him back inside.
I would have ridden longer except that Cali is being treated for strangles and I didn't want to push my luck. They were both coughing a couple of weeks ago and now Cali is coughing with green snot running out of her nose and a huge swollen gland under her jawline. The medicine she is on specifically states on the packaging that it is to treat strangles, so that's what I am going with. Hopefully, Ashke stays healthy and doesn't develop the same issues. The good news is that Cali is no longer running a fever, her eyes are bright and she finished her feed last night.
Now to the second thing . . . .
I am a Bones aficionado and was watching an episode on my phone while beading a couple of days ago. Something that happened piqued my interest so I did some research. Come to find out, the treatment for a ruptured disc is six months. Six months. And the recommended treatment is pain relief and exercise to strengthen the back.
This is completely opposite of what I was told by my chiropractor. When I first went in to see him, he told me I could never ride again if I didn't want to have surgery. He told me not to do anything . . . . no vacuuming, no walking, no rollerblading, and certainly no horseback riding. I felt like I was confined to a chair or couch, with no options. I don't know if he said it or if I interpreted his words to mean that if I wasn't careful I would step wrong and paralyze myself. I gained weight and hated my body. I hated that I had hurt myself so badly that everything I loved to do - hike, bike, camp, ride, rollerblade, was suddenly off limits for the rest of my life.
Because that's what I was told by my doctor.
And I believed it. In the back of my mind I have been waiting for my back to suddenly give out and for me to be paralyzed. To be injured bad enough that I can't walk, can't sleep, have to undergo surgery, never ride again. Every second of the past seven years I have spent with that thought residing somewhere in the back of my mind.
And you know what, it wasn't true.
Only about 5% of people with disc injuries need surgery. Most of them are dealing with degenerative disc disease. And of the 5%, most of them recover and can reassume their normal activities. For the rest of the people, like me, who have disc injuries, the disc repairs itself within six months. So the idea of having a permanently ruptured disc is a bogus idea.
I feel like I have been set free.
Will I still be cautious? Yes. Will I be worried about my back? Not so much. Not any more than I would be worried about hurting myself because of my increasing age or decreasing physical mobility. Do I want to be thrown? Hell no. Hitting the ground hurts. But I will no longer be fanatical about not risking any injury. I will no longer worry about hurting my back when we canter.
I don't think I can put into words what my sense of self feels like now. Freedom is the only concept that comes close.