Reflection – Back in the Saddle Again

Today was a milestone moment for us—you know the kind of accomplishment that takes your breath away with gratitude, makes your heart hurt with love, or smile with a great sense of achievement? Yeah, we had one of those moments.

I know I mentioned a shoulder dislocation in a couple of posts after returning from Montana, but, as many who have suffered an injury before can probably relate, sometimes the hardest part to healing isn’t the physical—it’s the mental aspect. It’s a grieving process for many, and considering I dislocated my right arm, and I am right-handed, I immediately had to get over my pride and independence, and learn to rely on others. For the first few weeks after, I was extremely grateful for Phil. From learning how to put my hair in a bun to cutting my vegetables for my afternoon snacks, I don’t know what I would’ve done without him.

Once my arm was out of the sling, I became extremely determined to gain mobility. I would do my physical therapy exercise every day, twice a day, and never skipped an in person appointment. I saw huge improvements in just a week, and was really inspired to start building strength and mobility. Not too long after that, about a month after the accident, I noticed the improvements slowed down, even plateauing at times. Welcome to the state of mind I’ve been in since December.

Have you ever been there, feeling like no matter what you do, it’s not good enough? Well, that’s where I was my friends, full on self-pity mode. The worst part, it seeped deep into my mindset for all of life. I had some really bad self-talk happening, and Phil was right there by my side. Holding my hand when I needed it, or buying me cards to make me see that I was enough, who I was right now, right that moment, I was more than good enough.

If you know me well enough, you understand that hot yoga and horseback riding have always been my passions when it comes to exercise. Though I may not get to the hot room or settle into a saddle every day, any time I got to experience these connections with myself and others, including horses, I was happier. It served as a reset, a fresh start, a time to be present and listen to my body.

The worst part of my shoulder injury meant that I couldn’t ride. It got to the point when I wouldn’t even let myself think about horseback riding, I’d block it from my mind, which usually makes things worse.

Earlier this week, my physical therapist told me that I had to get back into the saddle before she’d clear me. For the first time in months, I felt my determination kick-in. I was going to ride again. Well friends, this past weekend, I did it, I got back in the saddle. The whole week I was nervous, but so excited to be in the presence of a horse, to touch one, to brush it, to feel their warmth and their understanding.

Today reminded me of a quote from a famous actor known for his bravery and heroism from classic Westerns. John Wayne said this: “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.” More than likely he was probably referring to the likely hundreds of horses he had to ride throughout his momentous career. No doubt there were animals that were less sturdy, sound, and safe than others. There may have even been times when he was staring up at a horse after being thrown from the saddle!

Riding horses can be considered courageous by some. Not only when considering it takes muscle groups to physically stay on the horse that usually don’t work together at the same time, but from a mental standpoint. Thousands of people are scared of horses. Here is a thousand pound animal that scares at and makes sudden movements when it sees a chipmunk or a leaf move the wrong way. And yet, with a respectful, trusting human hand, these same beasts can dance to music, clear four to six foot fences, herd cattle and sheep over extreme acreage, and create bonds with people in a way no other animal can. And yes, the inevitable will happen if you choose to learn how to ride, you are going to fall off. And when it does, one of the first lessons you learn is to get right back in the saddle. Don’t think, just do.

We have all succumbed to overthinking at one point or another in this life. Is this injury the downward turn to my life? Is it possible that this job isn’t going to get better and I have been ignoring the signs all along? Is it possible that my partner is in fact cheating on me considering we are in a strained relationship?

These types of questions fill our minds with doubt, uncertainty, and fear. But here’s the kicker, not acting, or not at least having an inner dialogue about doing the right thing, actually prolongs the problem at hand. Fear does that, it has this crippling effect on us. It puts blinders on to the world. But we have the power to rip the blinders off. We have the ability to make it right, to make it better, to live a fuller and happier life. Sometimes we are the only ones that can do it for ourselves, and other occasions, it has to be done for someone else.

So take John Wayne’s words to heart and show fear who’s boss. Get back in the saddle after a debilitating setback. Dust yourself off after a crushing loss. And saddle up when it is most courageous to do so. Because as they say, the ride is so much better than the destination.

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