Anyone that's had an addiction knows how this goes. You've quit, you don't even look at that thing. You leave the blogs and email lists, you throw out the catalogs, you don't go to the stores, you don't watch the shows. Equipment sits in boxes in the loft of the garage, forgotten and getting musty. You've quit and that's all part of your old life.
And then, one day, you follow a link a friend shares with you. As simple as that, you find yourself falling back in. The forgotten catalog on the desk gets picked up. The Rolex videos that were never watched are suddenly on the tv. The husband starts to get suspicious, peering over your shoulder when he thinks he spotted horse pictures.
The itch came back. It took a long time and for a good while I actually thought it was gone. So foolish. We all know that it never truly goes away. It was just lying in wait, waiting for me to come to terms with the Fiona situation.
I'll be honest, I regret the decision I made. Yes, Fi is happy as a clam at UNH. I get updates and bump into her riders at tack stores constantly. She looks amazing, is called the princess by the students, and is adored by all. It's wonderful for her, but I still miss her terribly. I realize now I would have been happier to give up jumping and just had my girl, but there was no actual harm done. I've learned something important about my riding interests (perfect partner > discipline) and the princess has a bigger fan club than ever. I'm finally ready call that chapter done and move on to the next.
Which brings me to today and the reason why I'm considering straddling a heating pad. A year and a half is plenty of time for muscles to atrophy and I wasn't riding very consistently toward the end. Today I had my first lesson with a new trainer on a new mount at a barn that is much closer to my house. My thighs are killing me.
My phone ate the picture I took, so I'll just describe Theon with words: black Percheron gelding, about 17h, not too terribly wide, with a very sweet face. A fairly kick on ride, but I've had worse. Much worse. I like to call him Big Papa. I also like to say things like 'this is my leg, there are many legs like it but this one is mine, move off my *** **** leg'.
Could've been worse.
Once he got the message that I wanted to go FORWARD, we got along quite well. We even got a nice little connection by the end and he gave me some very nice canter transitions. The new trainer stuck me on the lunge line for some position and no stirrup work. I've got a lot of strength to build back up and some of my lingering position problems are going to be getting the attention they need. It's interesting to be in a private lesson so we can pick at the little things, like my shoulders being out of whack making the rest of my body twist. Also doing leg lifts to rebuild my leg strength. But we were able to let my stirrups down a whole 4 holes from when we started to the end, so it was clearly working. I almost have real legs!
I look like a Pony Clubber. It's okay, they have mirrors. I see it for myself. 17h gelding + me = legs barely reaching the bottom of the saddle and no where near the thigh roll. All the stretching in the world isn't going to help with that.
The new trainer is dressage focused, but there's an eventing trainer around as well. I'm going to start in the dressage area and see what happens. Right now, I just want that wonderful eau de barn smell and to pet the ponies. Of course I told everyone that I wasn't looking to compete, I'm just looking to get back to riding. I think I was about half way through my lesson when I was asked if I'd think about competing and I shrugged and went 'well, yeah, I would probably show again, with the right horse'.
I have a serious problem. I need an intervention.
I have no idea what's going to happen next, but it's past time that horses were part of my life again. Dressage, eventing, maybe even endurance or the hunters. Maybe all of them. Right now I just want the joy back.