Last month, I blogged on my experience of undergoing scoliosis surgery. One of my biggest concerns prior to this, was that I’d be able to ride horses again. There are always slim possibilities, but I was assured that, barring any real disasters, getting back in the saddle shouldn’t be a problem. Sure enough, nine weeks after having a rod and five screws fixed to my spine, I was back on board a horse and happily cantering around an arena (incredibly, I had my surgeon’s permission to do so: horse riding counts as a contact sport in this context, and those are normally forbidden until six months or a year after surgery – if you’re in a similar situation, please check with your doctor first!).
Whilst at camp, I recently met a girl who had attended camp several times previously and wanted to go riding but was unsure whether she could. She had ridden twice as a beginner, and informed us that she’d had surgery in July 2012. Her doctor no longer restricts her activities, so I offered to help her when she was ready, explaining that I’d literally been there and done it.
Eight years and eight days after my own surgery, I helped someone else back into the saddle for the first time. We compared scars beforehand, something which I always love to do and am proud to see in other people, especially notoriously image-conscious teenagers. She had previously ridden Western, but had fallen in love with an English horse, so that was the horse she plumped for – I was more than happy to start from scratch and teach her a different discipline.
She was nervous at first, but I took the time to relate my own experience and boost her confidence, ensuring that she was comfortable. The lesson ended with a successful trot and a lot of grinning – mission accomplished.
I always intended to get straight back on a horse as soon as I was allowed and capable. I’m glad I was given permission sooner than I’d hoped – I was starting to get anxious about it, and being nervous around horses isn’t a good thing. My surgeon actually advised me to do more canter work than trotting, as it’s an easier gait to sit to and the movement is smoother. So I took his advice and cantered as much as possible. I was warned away from jumping for a while, though. My mentality with jumping has always been that your gut will tell you when the time is right. Six months after surgery, I was feeling the itch, and arrived at a riding lesson determined to jump that day. It was the perfect time, and I’ve barely looked back since.
It was great to meet someone who not only shares an interest with me, but shares another history as well. I was also pleased to see someone able to take a positive attitude, be pleased with their outcome and feel confident in their future.