Well, 2011 marked a new beginning for me.

In the spring of 2009, I suffered a serious injury (not horse related). I fractured my leg and totally crushed my ankle. Extensive surgery, which included the attachment of permanent hardware, was followed by a very long recovery period.

In the fall of 2010, I attempted a couple of western riding lessons on one of my own horses. I wasn't very comfortable, so I tabled my riding and didn't know if I would ever have the confidence to try again.

I worked very hard this year to regain my fitness level. I lost 35 lbs and I walk every day. This last Oct, I saw an ad in the local tack store, offering english lessons. I've ridden both english and western before, but I knew that english riding would present much more of a challenge to me. I made an appointment for a lesson, before I could chicken out. That first lesson was terrifying! But I got through it. Yesterday marked the 12th time I've ridden since starting in Oct. I'd never ridden in winter prior to this year and never trail rode in an english saddle. Now I've done both!

I have a long way to go. I need assistance from the trainer and a mounting block to get on the horse as well as for dismounting. But I'm proud of myself for pushing through my discomfort and apprehension and am thoroughly enjoying myself. This is a new beginning for me and I look forward to my first riding lesson of 2012.

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Comment by Linda O'Toole on January 9, 2012 at 10:12pm

Last Saturday, it was pretty icy in the outdoor arena, where I take my lessons. So, the group went for a little trail ride through the pastures. When we returned, I decided to try to dismount without using the mounting block. With a little help from the instructor holding the back of my coat for safety, I managed just fine. It's a small step, but I'm proud of myself.


Comment by vickie lawson on January 9, 2012 at 2:49pm

I always use a block to mount from just so it doesn't twist the horses back. Very occasionally I have to mount from the ground, and its' an odd feeling doing that now!!


Comment by vickie lawson on January 9, 2012 at 2:47pm

Well Done!! I too ride trail with my dressage saddle, since I switched to riding English many many years ago. It works out fine. Even without your accident you'd have found it more difficult to get out there doing it- I know I do!


Comment by Jackie Cochran on January 5, 2012 at 12:34pm

Luckily the 18.2 is not my horse, in fact I don't own any horses any more.  When I get off of him I sort of slither down to the ground.

All the other horses I ride regularly are Arab or 1/2 Arab and a MUCH more reasonable 14-15 hands.  I prefer horses under 15 hands, if I fall off it won't hurt as much and I would have a much better chance of being able to remount.  Luckily I have not fallen off.

Comment by Linda O'Toole on January 5, 2012 at 5:51am

Thanks Jackie. I agree about using the mounting block for the horse's welfare. I did some study at the University of Guelph and I've studied equine massage therapy. The horses's spine gets torked out of alinement, everytime we mount from the ground. Dismounting with the mounting block can be a bit tricky, especially in winter conditions with ice or snow on the step.

Your horse is 18.2 hh? Wow! I joked to my trainer that she should put me on a pony! 

Comment by Jackie Cochran on January 4, 2012 at 7:52pm

I had to start riding over again.  I also need to use the mounting block.  Back 40 years ago everyone growled that only wusses used mounting blocks, now more and more serious horsepeople are saying that using a mounting block helps keep the saddle trees in good shape and it is much, much better for the horse.  So far I haven't used it for dismounting, but I'm thinking about it when I ride the 18.2 hand half-drafter!

Personally I think riding English (hunt seat) is better for a handicapped rider who can handle it because we learn not to depend on that horn for staying on.  You have every right to feel proud of yourself, you are riding!

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