Always Look On The Bright Side Of Snow

I could write for days about the inconveniences and issues associated with snow, particularly for equestrians but it has all been said before.  Yes, it is a pain, but unless you want to move to a different country, it is something we are just going to have to get used to, particularly with increasingly erratic weather patterns (don’t get me to get my A level geography out!)  Therefore I’m encouraging you to try to be positive about the white stuff.

School’s Out!

Particularly if you are lucky enough to be in education or work in education, but also in other jobs, you may well get yourself a day off.  What is better than an extra day at the yard?

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Taking Stock

If, like me, you’re currently focused on progress (maybe working towards a competition or confidence goal) the snow is likely to put the brakes on your plans.  I think this is a great opportunity to take a step back, reflect on what you have achieved so far and what you are doing next, take the pressure off and do something different (even if that is just working on your walk rather than your canter).

Cleanliness

The snow freezes up the mud, covers it over and leaves us with squeaky clean ponies (and wellies!)  Nice soft, dry coats and pristine hooves in the winter?  Yes please!  And for those of you frowning at me because your shod horse’s hooves fill with snowballs.. I direct you towards the wonder that is Vaseline.

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Fun

Sorry but no matter how old you are, the snow can be fun.  Whether your fun is galloping through a snowy field, making a snow horse or sledging behind your pony, there is no shame in being a bit childish and playing in the snow.

Beauty

There can be no denying that the snow is beautiful.  I love the clean whiteness of it and the sparkle when the sun comes out.  When you are done having fun (and battling the snow challenges that we are not talking about) take in the view.

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What do you LIKE about the snow?

Living My Life!

So here we are, nearly a week on from that top doctor advice that now I can ‘go and live my life’..  I thought I’d give a little update on how life is going.

The Downs

  • I’m fully back in the swing of my work schedule now.  I work 9.30-5.30 in one job and then work as a private tutor in the evenings which means..
  • I am SO pushed for riding time.  The evenings are rapidly getting darker and although I’m still only riding for short periods of time, when I ride after work on non tutoring days I feel so rushed!
  • Rushing is not good for my still recovering body.  After feeling so knackered from walking and mucking out ONE stable I have been doing some reading on how much muscle you lose from inactivity.  I am very much still getting my strength back, if I rest between activities I am ok but when I’m rushing I end up in pain or with cramp! It upsets me that this time last year at my old job there were 20 stables to muck out between two of us and this year I can barely do one!

The Ups

  • Although my brain is still stressed about work, money and time, I feel so much more relaxed about my leg.  I’ve been moving and sitting however I want and so far haven’t had any dodge moments since my restrictions have been lifted.
  • I’ve adjusted my mindset when it comes to my riding and it has made me feel much better.  My first ride made me feel like I had gone so far backwards and then as I did more to try to rectify that I was worried I was overdoing it.  I had some great advice that if I thought I was overdoing it.. I probably was and that aching is ok but not pain.  So I’ve stripped back my expectations and I stop when I get to the pain stage.  I’m treating my riding as though I’m starting from scratch again but am pleasantly progressing at a slightly accelerated rate than I did this time five years ago (when I first started riding!) I did something this week which was very exciting but I’m going to have to wait until next weekend to write about it.. watch this space!
  • I’m getting the hang of our new camera and so is my boyfriend.  We both love photography so it is nice to be able to take better quality pictures for my blog and social media.  We have a Canon with a 18-55 lense but are pondering what longer lense or waterproofing equipment we may need in the future (British Dressage Championships in the rain was tricky) – if anyone has any top tips please let me know!
  • I’m generally feeling more positive about the future with my scrummy pony, snazzy camera and bionic hip!

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Week Ten/Day One

At ten weeks post hip replacement this morning I felt like I had pretty much bossed most normal person activities (walking unaided, driving, cycling, working and sleeping on my side).  Now I have attempted what feels like the last piece of the puzzle (riding Pea) I feel like I am starting a whole new journey from day one.

If we rewind to this morning, I had an appointment with my physio.  Last time she saw me I still had a crutch some of the time and I hadn’t started driving yet so for me to bounce in on my own she was pretty impressed.  She pointed out that although I’m not as wonky as  I was, I’m collapsing my upper body to the left because that is how my body is stabilising.  Obviously this isn’t what I should be doing so I’ve got lots more tough exercises to do to straighten me up and strengthen my core and need to spend a bit more time in front of a mirror to check I’m doing it right!  I asked her what she thought about me riding and she said that if I felt I would be ok, it would probably be good for me to get back to it.

I had a busy morning helping out at the yard and when it was over, I managed to get Pea in, brush her and get ready to ride.  I had built up in my mind that as soon as I was given the go ahead to ride, my body would be ready and that riding would mark the end of my proper recovery time.  That wasn’t really the case.  Getting on was fine but I couldn’t sit properly in the saddle as my hip just wouldn’t open up as wide as it needed to – it felt stretched and it hurt!  I had a walk around the arena and I felt my bum settle down into the saddle more rather than being sat on the back like it was at the beginning.  My leg wasn’t exactly hanging down, I didn’t feel like I could push my heel down, there was a funny crunching feeling when I moved and it hurt.  Dismounting was fine, I practically laid on Pea with my legs together then swung them round together.

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I got off feeling pretty devastated – I didn’t expect to be cantering round the arena but I did expect to be able to sit and walk comfortably.  I had to hark back to my own advice on positivity from the other day and think I’m probably still in the wallowing stage though I am very aware how lucky I am to even be sitting on a pony!

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I need to wind my expectations in and realise that the return to riding is going to be a long journey.  Today was day one, stage one – sitting on my pony.  It might take me weeks to be able to sit properly, or trot, or ride for more than a few minutes.  I’m going to try to be patient – after all, I’m 26, Pea’s 12, all things being well we have many many more years together.

Any words of wisdom to help me with this would be most welcome – there is a trustly booklet from the NHS for hip replacement recovery but I’m yet to find a returning to riding one!

How To Stay Positive

Positivity has been fairly key to getting through the last few months with as little damage to myself, my friends and my family as possible.  It is not easy to be positive when you have got things going on whether they are medical, financial or anything else but I have got a few tips for things that I have tried to do to help me.

Set your wallowing limits

This is an old, well practised strategy of mine.  If something goes wrong or something is tough, let yourself be sad/angry or whatever negative feeling comes but set yourself a time limit – for example, give yourself a day and then move on and start focusing on the positives.  Disclaimer – this didn’t work too well when I was on the drugs, I didn’t really have control over how I felt!

Remember – This too shall pass

I think it is important to be able to look past whatever is challenging your positivity, whether that is looking to the end of a recovery or looking forward to events in the future.  Making plans for the future has helped to keep my mind on track and given me something to aim for.

Count your blessings

I firmly believe that whatever you are going through you can identify things in your life that are good!  This was an easy one for me during this recovery, I have so many people and things to be thankful for.

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Remember someone else is worse off

Obviously this is completely dependent on what your particular challenge is but I’m sure you can always find someone else’s situation that puts yours into perspective.  When I was on crutches, I watched a lot of videos and films of people (real and fictional) who have been paralysed or had amputations which completely stopped me from feeling sorry for myself! Who recognises this film?

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Exercise

If you can’t make yourself feel more positive by persuading your brain that you should, the scientific way should help.  We’ve all heard it before – when you exercise your body releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy.  One of the most frustrating parts of my recovery was not being able to exercise as much as normal but from the second day I was allowed to do my rehab exercises and each week I have been allowed to do more and more.  It makes me feel stronger and it makes the light at the end of the tunnel shine brighter!

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