Thirty Minutes of Heaven….

That’s all it was, 30 minutes but how good it felt.

After an enforced two and a half months out of the saddle today I finally got back on. And how wonderful it was! The weather was not playing the game however, wind is not Finn’s friend. He hates it with a passion. It makes him flighty and sharp, spooking at the slightest thing.

I have to admit I was feeling anxious about riding him again. Being anxious is quite an alien feeling for me. I’ve always happily sat on anything and having had Finlay for nearly four years I have never felt unsafe or scared. But this morning I was definitely nervous. I hastily tacked up… think my speed was to just get it done and get on a soon as I could so I would stop feeling anxious. Finlay has been lunged for the past two weeks plus on the walker to try a build up a little fitness but he had stood in yesterday as I was working all day. Being aware of this added to my nervousness. I had put on a martingale too which I don’t normally ride with.

Anyway I lead him out the door and popped on. And relax…….

Well sort of! With the wind up his tail we has some nonsense but nothing too serious. The school was busy with some practising for tomorrows competition so we just calmly walked around doing some stretching. With a little trotting and a walk down the drive we were finished. Thirty minutes was enough after such a long time off… for both of us.

Tomorrow we will try again and knowing the yard will be quiet with the others away competing I will have space to potter around without horses jumping and flying past. Maybe even do some proper schooling! The IC seems calmer but this can change hour by hour. Riding today hasn’t totally lifted my spirits, the feelings of isolation and loneliness are strong but its a start and maybe one day soon I will find me again. How noticeable the change in confidence levels. I have felt this in my day to day life over the last few months but I wasn’t expecting to feel so unsure of myself this morning tacking up Finn. Maybe this recent IC flare has had a deeper effect than I first thought. Or maybe its simply the lack of my daily therapy in the saddle……. x

That Dark Lonely Place…..

That’s where I have been recently…

It is a very lonely place when you are burdened with a chronic pain condition. For the last six years I have suffered mine. Anger, despair, isolation, desperation….. but also acceptance. During the latter half of 2013 until August 2014 I had a period of normal pain. Normal pain is there every day, every morning and every night but it is manageable. I can just about function, be a mum, be a friend, be employed and enjoy my passion for all things equestrian. Life is ok, I feel blessed for my two healthy children, supportive friends, my handsome four legged boy. I can actually enjoy life.

Then the flare comes… August this year, out of the blue, no warning. Just bam! Here I am!! A big flare and the aint nothing you can do about it Im going to wreck your life for as long as I please! And so it did.

Until four days ago, as quickly as it arrived, it left. Sunday afternoon.. nothing special happening… no change in my day, what I’ve eaten, what I’ve drank….  nothing different to the last two and a half months…. its just left. Oddly I was at my breaking point the evening before. The lowest of my lows, many tears and desperately lonely.

So, four days on and I am very much hoping my body has recovered, that the inflammation has calmed. IC is a silent predator, I still have it, its still lurking in there. I can feel it every day. I still use six catheters a day…. should I dare to hope? Should I make plans? It could come back at any minute. This is my plan…. enjoy everyday. x

Is This A Turning Point?

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Where to start…… Ok, the last four years have been s**t. Really really! Illness, financial ruin, relationship breakdown, moving house…… Being a single parent with a chronic pain condition has been a tough road to travel.

One constant in my life for two and a half years has been my horse, Finlay. There is not a day goes by when I don’t feel privileged to have him in my life. The time I spend with him Im not a mum, single parent with a chronic pain condition. Im just me! The girl who started riding aged 6 and never stopped. Of course as a mum I feel blessed everyday that I have two healthy happy boys but my horse time is me time!

In July this year I appeared to be having less pain on a daily basis, it was still there but not as severe. Around this time I started wearing a magnetic bracelet. I had been taking tramadol everyday so maybe that was the reason but I really wanted to get off this drug. I had started to lose weight, being 20 lbs overweight, this was a good thing. When the weight loss started I began to feel better about myself, I had control of something for the first time in years. This feeling of achievement spurred me on to come off the tramadol, which I did.

One other reason to come of the drug was I would begin a 6 week course of treatment for my IC, one day a week at hospital. So I wanted to be drug free to access whether this treatment would make any difference. The more decisions I made the more confident I became. I took on a small cleaning job a couple hours a week, Id met new friends and Finlay’s yard, and even contacted someone who has IC and lives locally to me! It was great to chat to someone who completely understood what I have been going through for five years.

So now a couple of months on, I’ve lost 14lbs, my pain is at a lower level and my self esteem is much improved. I don’t feel as insecure and I’m actually quite liking myself again.

Last week I was approached to work part time for a local lady who has three dressage horses. At first I was really unsure. Could I do the job? Could I manage pain levels? Could I use my catheters at work? Could I fit the hours around my youngest son and my own horse commitments? After much deliberation and conversations with friends (ok I know its not life or death, just a job) I decided to give it a go! In fact I am going self employed, freelance! Its a bit scary but… feel the fear and do it anyway!

So many good things have happened in the last two months. Why now? Is it because I took control of one thing in my life (my weight) Is it that when you project positivity that’s what you attract? Is it just the cycle of life, like life’s patterns? They say life changes every seven years and just over 7 years ago I met my ex. Hmmm that makes a lot of sense! So 7 years on and I’m finally turning a corner on to a new path. Who knows where it will take me. x

Ps, last week got my hair done for the first time in 12 months AND went out for a drink with friends. Well, they’d been trying to get me to the pub for three years 🙂 x

Time For A Massage!

Im not talking about myself, don’t be daft! I wouldn’t pay for that for myself, no, we’re talking about equine deep muscle massage. This is the reason I haven’t been to the hairdressers in a year!! Horses, dogs and children come way before me (not in that order of course, I promise!) For the pricely sum of £30 Finlay got an MOT (service)

This was long overdue, I’ve always known he was stiff on his offside (right side) and he has had shiatsu treatments but he was feeling quite off! So it was time for something a bit more substantial, something more physical to get to the root of the problem. This is where Irene comes in.

Irene works with divining rods initially when gets to work massaging the affected area. I had never seen this technique before but she was highly recommended by the professional trainer at my yard. Im very open to alternative therapies and have, in the past, given healing (channelling energy) to humans and animals. So when Irene began I was full of questions, how she got started with divining rods, was it a spiritual connection, what guided her (the rods or spirit) She told me that she is a spiritualist and frequently attends ghost hunting weekends!

To some this may be amusing but if you saw what she did for Finlay you’d change your mind!

She stood on his near side first (left) the rods immediately started spinning wildly, the over to the other side which was exactly the same. I had given her very little information (wanted to see if she would pick up on what I already knew) Very quickly she said he was sore on both sides just behind the shoulder but much worse on the offside. Correct!

In fact he was really sore! My poor boy was climbing the wall when she started to massage the muscles. It was quite frightening to watch just how sore it was! I felt so guilty I hadn’t done this sooner. Finlay never really showed any real problem. Never disagreed when tacking up or girthing up etc. But last week I notice his stride shorten, so stopped riding that day and called Irene.

Irene explained that this problem has been there for years, long before I got him and that he’s had some kind of trauma on his offside. I’d always suspected this because that’s his stiff side, he sweats more on that side, lies on that side, always turns to the right (in his stable, spooking etc) Anything that means he doesn’t have to stretch his offside.

As Irene worked away he slowly began to feel more comfortable. I could visible see the blood flow returning to the muscle, a very slight pulse could be seen and the whole area was very soft. Finlay was breathing huge sighs of relief and resting his head in my arms. My beloved boy was finally feeling relaxed. Irene commented regularly about how lovely Finlay was, not in looks, in personality/energy. This is the exact same feeling I got when I first set eyes on him two and a half years ago. It was a spiritual connection.

Finn now has two days in the field (today and tomorrow) I will lunge on Saturday and saddle on Sunday.

Irene is a fascinating person, she works with top horses all over the country. Eventer Lenamore one example! Yet she loves nothing more than sleeping in a haunted house looking for ghosts. Add to that her 5ft2″ stature and broad Glasgow accent (imagine the Crankies, Janette, Scottish comedy legend) then you get a rather un-horsey looking person lol But never a truer word than don’t judge a book by its cover. She’s extremely professional and one of the nicest people Ive ever met!

Finlay is to have a follow up in two weeks time. On reflection I believe the months spent at the pervious yard compounded this hidden problem. The anxiety and stress increased the tension in his muscles leading to a sore Finnie.  x

Finlay v Kids Part II

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So, after the previous attempt to get my big Jessie (Scottish for wimp) horse past the kid goats the following day I was determined we would have another try.

The tactics were – speed and leg yields!

We set off on our hack, roads were quieter so this was good start and ten minutes later we were approaching the huge scary feck off alien monsters from outer space! Time to change up a gear. Approximately 30 yards away he was already snorting, head up with a slightly elevated gait…. kick on!

Into trot, a very big bouncing trot with snorting. Cue left leg yield! Damn it, should’ve put a martingale on…. kick on!

One thing in our favour this time was the fact that the kids were not in clear view. I could see them behind the tall hedge but this gave me a better chance to getting him actually past the hedge. And past the hedge we went!! It wasn’t pretty but he did it!

Lots of pats and words of encouragement later I felt like we’d overcome a wee hurdle. Now all we had to do was walk back haha!

He did walk back, with less snorting and carry on. Maybe the thought of getting back to the safety of his stable away from these horse eating monsters was the motivating factor!

We will keep going this route until he calms down and stops trying to put me in the ditch, which is rather deep by the way with a nice thorny hedge along side it.. NO thanks pal!

Love him x    

Finlay v Kids!

And the kids won!

Okay we’re not talking the human variety here, more the four legged cute kind. As I was feeling a bit under the weather today I decided on a ride out instead of working in the arena (much less effort for me lol) So we set off down the drive.

We’ve been this route four or five times. I always do this with Finlay when we move yards, go the same route for a week until he relaxes and feels more secure. So I didn’t think we would have any problems, how wrong was I?

The road seemed busier this morning, we met quite a few cars and not all of them slowing down either! Its a quiet road but can be a fast road too. Ten minutes away from the yard there is a small garden centre, we’ve been past it a few times and admittedly he is spooked by the geese (they also have a few animals) But I’ve always got him past safely.

Today however the kid goats were in full few twenty yards away. And that’s as far as we got! I tried all the tricks in the book but he was not going to walk past the goats. His heart was thumping so hard I could feel it. Eventually I got him to stand then I asked him to walk on which he did then before he decided it wasn’t going any further I turned him around and we walked back.

It may seem like I gave in but I knew there was no way I would get him past the goats so the only option was that I would make the decision when we turned around, not him. You’ll never win a fight with half ton of horse, so picking your battles and how you negotiate the issue is the only option. So we will keep hacking out to the garden centre until he feels brave enough to walk past. This may take a few days or a few weeks it doesn’t matter how long it takes the important thing is that Finlay learns there is nothing to be scared of.

I know him well enough to understand that nothing he does is out of badness, only fear. You would think a 17hh horse wouldn’t be scared of many things but you’d be surprised! Being a flight animal makes them very sensitive to possible dangers, some have more awareness of this than others. Some will overcome their fears quicker than others, they’re like people, all unique! x