Saturday, October 26, 2013

Welcome Back, Left Leg

As most of you already know from following this blog, 8 years ago I broke my back in a riding accident.  The accident left me with a weak left leg that didn't always do what I told it to and was mostly numb (which is a plus when your horse stands on your foot, but not so much when you need to know whether or not your leg is on your horse).  And then I have other complications on top of that that aren't helping matters.  I had pretty much given up on ever getting much use back and have mostly just been trying to figure out how to work around it.

On Tuesday, I decided to have a late night ride under the full moon.  I love riding at night when the moon is full, especially in the fall. It's so nice and crisp out, but not cold yet. Just right.

I didn't run this through any filters or photo editing.  It just came out like this on it's own.  Kinda neat.

On this particular evening, Spider was being rather crappy about bending left and that was severely disrupting my enjoyment of our moonlight ride. I got annoyed, and when that didn't help, I got mad.

I've been practicing being better balanced in the saddle, keeping my weight squarely over both seat bones and my hands balanced on either side of my horse, even though that makes it harder for me to use my left leg.  Since my accident, the only way for me to get my left leg on is if I sort of contort and lean off to the left.  But, contorting and leaning off to the left side leaves my right side wide open, allowing Spider to slip out the side door and making my half halts non-existant. I need my outside aids for collected work, so I've been trying to stop leaning, even if it means giving up my left leg.  I figured if people can ride with no legs, then I can do it with just one and I'd make up for it some other way.  I've also been working more on strength training out of the saddle in the hope that it would help me compensate.

I guess all that work on balance and strength is working.  On Tuesday evening I got mad and, without even thinking about it, I put my my left leg on my horse.  And I did it without compromising the rest of my position. I put my left leg on him, and closed him in with my outside aids so that he had no choice but to suck it up and bend.  I didn't do it on purpose, it was just an instinct.  I guess I was mad enough that the part of my brain that knows how to ride over-rode the part that remembers that my left leg doesn't work.  And, "Surprise!", my leg works again!

I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or him.  In the entire time I have owned Spider, I have never put my left leg on him like that.  I've never been able to, as I bought him after my accident.  I do know that I was a lot happier about it than he was.  No more half-assing it for Spider, now he actually has to bend left and I can do something about it when he doesn't.

Now, I'm still not at 100%.  Far from it.  My left leg is still much weaker than my right, but it's gaining strength.  I know that because I have muscles in my back and hip that are really, really sore right now, but that's a good sign!  I'll take it!





20 comments:

  1. Yay!! But I bet Spider is not pleased. haha :)

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    1. He is not! I just changed the game, and he's not liking it!

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  2. This is really exciting news! Your determination and hard work have paid off big time. I'm sure time and more exercise will strengthen that leg even more. Little Matilda is off the hook as a driving pony--well, VSE--for while yet since your riding is just going to get better and better.

    Speaking of the driving club is the Garden State Horse and Carriage Society. They are based in Cream Ridge. They do not seem to have a website. I was called to volunteer by Mary Nelson. I have her cell number if you need it, but if you search on the Web you will find contact info for the group. There's also a page with the prize list for the combined test this weekend.

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    1. I'm going to look that up! I'd love to learn more about driving, it seems like a lot of fun and the people involved seem really fun, too!

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  3. Love the cartoon - that's good news - the body is amazing in its ability to heal and work around deficits we have.

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    1. I remember learning in Grad School that, because of the one-directional nature of conduction in nerves and their insulation from the rest of the body, they took much, much longer to heal. I also learned that it takes a long time, and constant re-inforcement, to retrain our muscles. I never expected that it would take 8 years, though. It's a good reminder of why you should never, ever give up!

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Oops I signed into the wrong account lol. Here is what my comment said,

    That's fantastic!!! I can't even imagine how difficult it is to use a limb that you can't feel, but I'm glad you're figuring it out. :D

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    1. Ha! I'm having trouble with the new format, too! I keep logging myself out instead of publishing my comment...

      You actually get used to it. The body is amazing in it's ability to adapt. I tend to watch my feet while I'm walking, particularly up or down stairs, so that I can compensate. It also helps to have a trainer who yells at you when you don't have your leg on correctly, it teaches you the correct feeling!

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  6. Fantastic news! Poor pony wouldn't know what was going on!

    I love your blog by the way and have been following you for a while :)

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I love finding new blogs to follow, and a lot of times you guys only come out of the woodwork in comments!

      Poor Spider is still annoyed, but he's learning to work with it!

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks! It just proves to me that you should never give up, no matter how stacked the odds are against you!

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  8. Replies
    1. Pleasant is an understatement, I'm ecstatic!

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  9. Yeah!! Super excited for you. Beat those odds, girl!

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    1. I'm working on it! You've been an inspiration to me, too. Through everything, you just keep pushing through and trying harder. It's so awesome to see that attitude pay off!

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  10. More proof that riding horses heals us. :) How incredibly awesome, and I'm so happy for you!! Beating all the odds is the best thing in the world.

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