I rode again three days ago. It was just three days after my first lesson back, when I was still very stiff and ouchy from the back *thing* that got me over Christmas. On the Friday I had taken a low dose of muscle relaxant and was moving reeeeasonably well, but for this lesson I went without. I wasn't hurting anymore -- just stiff and kind of locked up.
I got on early and had about ten minutes in the ring to myself before the lesson started. I did a lot of walk, and some trot and canter work to warm up. I didn't feel *that* off at first, but the horse felt VERY off, like she wasn't cooperating with me, or ignoring things I was asking. Our corners were terrible, and there were times we were about 4 feet inside of the track for no particular reason. Oops.
Turns out my feeling that the horse was off was actually at least 60% ME being off, but I couldn't feel it because my body and I were not communicating very well.
Things I was doing and not aware of:
-Leaning back a lot because I didn't have the flexibility to roll my pelvis under me the way I normally would to move with the motion
-Twisting to the right and popping my left shoulder forward and up -- the same old battle, but whereas I've been getting better recently, this time it was VERY exaggerated. Augghh!!
-Not using my legs very effectively -- not in any way I can specify -- I think I was generally out of sorts based on the above problems and it was affecting my coordination generally
-My hands and my rein tension were all over the place, which I think was partly a function of the stiff back and shoulders
It was a suuuper frustrating lesson because it felt like I had hopped into a time machine and gone back to where my riding was a year ago. After so much work. And even though I know it will improve as this back thing works itself out (I already feel miles better) the scary thought exists that "What if I have to redo ALL THAT WORK? Have I lost a year of progress?"
Even if I had "lost" all the physical changes I've made, including increased strength and flexibility, I still wouldn't be losing the knowledge I've gained since -- which is considerable!
Also, am I not in this for the process itself? Riding for me is very much an "it's the journey not the destination" experience. Heck, ring work is kind of the ultimate metaphor for that, isn't it? Running around in circles for 45 minutes to an hour, for the sole purpose of understanding and bettering yourself and your horse? Doesn't mean setbacks and/or plateaus aren't frustrating, though.
M was being pretty crotchety, though, all that said. She pinned her ears and looked pissed off before I even got the saddle ON. She wasn't just being girthy like she was the time before. Under saddle she was pulling at the reins until it turned into a game of tug of war. SO heavy on my hands they were hurtinng. And I definitely wasn't pulling on her; she was pulling on me. Not sure what the change in attitude is about, as she usually seems to jive pretty well with her work. It may be the Previcox causing changes that she's adjusting to.
I'm curious to maybe try my saddle out the next time I ride her, if I can. I find the jump saddles there might be putting my leg a little ahead of where I'd like it. Maybe that's just an excuse? But it seems to me like I can't get and keep my leg under me as far as I'd like it, and I do know that many jump saddles have a slightly more forward stirrup bar, to allow for a more forward seat. Also I just like how comfy my saddle is. Could be worth a try. I'm a little afraid I'll bring it and learn that it's a TERRIBLE saddle, or something, but I suppose that would be a *good* thing to know, not a bad thing.