A little bit of life, love, and artisan jewelry but mostly the

Home of the Confused Muse..

Where you will find the meadering thoughts of an actively artistic brain - as well as my latest creations, events, soapboxes, dramas, crisis, blessings, and life in general.

This is also the home of "ChrissyMarie Jewelry and Accessories", named for my daughter! Twenty-Five Percent of all sales from this line are donated to B.I.T.S. aka "Better in the Saddle", a local non-profit Equine Assisted Therapy Program ....because we KNOW horses help make miracles!


June 09, 2010

Meeting Boo...the first day of riding.

On May 2, 2010 I arrived at the barn to begin my month long commitment to the experimental Equine Assisted Therapy program.  I went pre-medicated knowing I would have a "melt down" without the drugs to keep my anxiety and muscle spasms under control.  Despite the medication I was nervous.  I went into the barn to meet Boo, the white Missouri Fox Trotter I would be riding.  He really wanted nothing to do with me, a stranger in his barn. His aloof attitude stung me just a little.  I'd been reading a bit about the connection between a rider and his horse and decided to try an approach I'd read about.  Feeling a little silly I carefully approached the horse and whispered in his ear, "Hi Boo.  I'm here to ride you today. I'm scared and a little nervous.  Please be patient with me while I learn."  He snuffled a little but I wasn't sure he understood my request.

After a few verbal instructions and setting up two mounting blocks to allow me to mount the horse without stressing any of my muscles I was ready to begin. (Big deep breath!)  I struggled to mount Boo. I was high enough to simply step forward into the stirrup but finding the muscle strength, courage, and coordination to climb on was a challenge.

 I was on his back a total of six minutes, so tense I could hardly breathe, and on the verge of a full blown panic attack. But in that six minutes, with the slow, gentle gait of the horse, the soothing voice of my instructor, the beautiful surroundings, and the encouraging smiles of my daughter I experienced hope. It felt good and yet it was a poignant experience.  I had always wanted to ride horses but it wasn't something my parents were willing to provide on our cattle farm.  Cattle = $$ but Horses = Expense. I had dreamed of riding free but here I was, at 51 years old, riding a therapy horse because of a multitude of medical issues.  Not exactly the circumstances I'd imagined.

We walked SLOWLY around the paddock.  My daughter leading the horse and Pat, my instructor walking by my side constantly coaxing and encouraging me to breathe and relax as much as I possibly could. (Breathe IN, Breathe OUT), and then it was over.  I spent a few minutes learning to just sit and relax my muscles, not an easy assignment for me. The first ride was short but I'd done it and without falling off or injuring myself, the horse, or my instructors

My first dismount was embarrassingly painful and difficult. I couldn't get my brain to let my body do what it was supposed to do.  The instructions were "backwards" and I really had to struggle to dismount.  I kept thinking, "This isn't how I remember doing it" but my instructor was patient and I finally managed to drag my right leg over the back of my horse and still needed Pat to assist by pulling on my leg just to get it over.  Poor Boo, I was bumping him with the toe of my boot the entire time.  He must have thought me a terribly awkward ride. Pat watched me carefully for balance issues, helped me walk around the paddock to loosen up and get my bearing and questioned me about any vision problems or other possible side effects.  I thought I was just fine!

The one thing I wasn't prepared for were the overwhelming emotions. I felt the tears begin to roll down my face and was surprised to realize I was crying. My instructor told me to "let it go..the release would be good for me." He comforted me as if I were one of the child riders, let me regain my composure and then instructed me to take a slow, steady walk back to my car. He had me stroll around the flower gardens, visit with his wife - Boo's owner, and when he was sure I was able; allowed me to drive home.

That night I slept for the first time in months. Even with heavy medication I have a terrible time closing my eyes and shutting down enough to rest.  Many nights I don't sleep at all.  That night I was able to fall asleep within four hours of taking my medication and experienced a deep restorative sleep. Amazing.


Nicki said...

Wow - this is a wonderful story. I bet at the end of the month you want to take Boo home with you ;-).

devon spec said...

aw adrienne, i'm sure you and boo will become fast friends. i don't think i realized that you were so ill. :( i'm glad you have this program to get all your kinks out and it's WONDERFUL that you were able to sleep. lack of sleep makes everything SO much worse. emotions, health, etc. i hope you have sweet dreams!