Friday, December 30, 2016

Stiff, sore, and a little bit drugged

Today was my first lesson back since before the Christmas rush season. I'd have to look at a calendar, but I think it's been about three weeks off?

I wasn't sure today was going to happen as, shortly after I had booked my lesson, I spent Christmas Eve, overnight, in back pain agony, and woke up so stiff and sore I could barely move. I figured it would work itself out pretty quickly, but it dragged on and after a couple of days I broke down and bought some back meds. Then I forgot to take any of them until later the next day (yesterday), when I texted Roxanne about my back, and she said, take some drugs, and I remembered, "Oh yeah, meds!!"

After an experimental quarter-dose to see if it made me feel drowsy or weird (they were Tylenol with muscle relaxant), I gradually ramped up half-pill by half-pill until it kicked in and... my back unclenched. I felt no side effects. I took another half dose this morning, hours before my lesson, to unclench any remaining stiffness, felt good, then drove over to ride.

I actually got there early for once! It was nice to have a leisurely brushing and tacking, and get into the ring a few minutes early (although I stood outside it chatting for a while so by the time I went in it was only four minutes before lesson time).

We did lots of walk, trot, canter transitions, and circling. Things felt fine despite my only-just-corrected back pain, though I was a bit rusty from the weeks off. We did some seated work and two point work -- if anything, I think my slightly stiff back improved my two-point, at least as far as getting my booty out behind me instead of tucking it under, which is what I instinctively want to do.

One thing that was a weird new problem: getting my posting trot diagonals wrong!! I'm usually a stickler and probably have it right at least 90% of the time, but today they were more like 60%. Amazing. Was it the drugs? The time off? Being more focused on other things? Meh, who knows. So weird though. I DID generally nail it on the downward transition from canter, but otherwise... hmmm.

We did a bit of jumping. Just wee weeee jumps, which suits me fine. One crossrail that was maybe a foot high, and one baby brush jump that was possibly even less than a foot. It felt a lot better today. I mostly trotted them, but did play with cantering them a couple of times. Some of the approaches were sloppy because I was trying to moderate her speed too close to the jump and the half-halts near the base affected her takeoff spot. Still, I went with it. I did try better to keep my eyes up today and just feel the jump happening, but I've got quite a ways to go on that still. The releases were a bit better too.

Exceeeept... hahahaha... On one trip over the tiny brush jump, I decided to try releasing more enthusiastically with my hands while moving my upper body less, and actually THREW away the left rein and my crop. Amazing. Laughed a lot after that and about whether or not those drugs were affecting me. We did more flat work again after the jumping. My back was getting tired and not cooperating as well at this point, and I found myself riding the canter standing in my stirrups -- not seated, not two point, just sort of weirdly hovering. I also kept twisting my right leg in some way that was making my heel catch the pad on the stirrup iron. THAT is a new one!!

The jumping was mainly better, other than my rein and crop moment, and I didn't end up slipping rein, even when the takeoff spots were awkward. It's all getting a bit better! And the more I do it, the less of a big deal it feels like, which is the goal for sure, for now.

Transitions continue to feel better, especially the trot to canter transition. Leads were all okay today.

One thing I noticed myself doing with the jumping today: I was pulling her unintentionally into a left bend on the way into a jump where I needed to land on a right rein. The cause: I was trying to firmly half halt with the outside rein, but I was giving away too much inside rein and lost the bend, so my outside rein unintentionally became my inside rein. Oops!! I caught it though. It's nice figuring these things out!!

Had a great chat with Roxanne after, and she paid my riding a nice compliment. I told her I hadn't been on a really difficult horse since I'd been back riding, and I didn't know if/how I'd handle it if one of them pulled something really dirty. She said (I'm paraphrasing), Oh, you'd be fine. You'd just put your leg on, and you'd handle it. You don't panic, and you're good at deescalating things.

I'm back on a regular weekly lesson schedule now, and will work on getting other rides in, in between, too. I've got a number of horses I can ride any time for free, which is pretty amazing! I continue to progress, bit by bit.

Oh, and my new $20 winter half chaps worked really well and were warm, and so were my rad $12.50 fleece lined tights! Yay bargains!!

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