Those taking up the reins after such an absence will have various concerns- can I still ride at that level, can I do the things I did before, what if I hurt myself again? This article aims to reassure readers that these are normal feelings, and summarises the best steps to take to make returning to the saddle a good experience.
Consult a Doctor
If you have suffered an illness or injury such as slipping on a wet floor which is one of the most common injuries in a slip and fall accident and breaking a bone, discuss plans to get back in the saddle with a doctor. Your doctor is the best person to advise you about whether your decision is well timed, sensible, or at least, what discomfort or limitations you may experience, e.g. whether your flexibility will be restricted. However, if you really want to go back to riyou can schedule a herniated disc treatment with your doctor. Do consider the wider effects of your decision to ride again on your family, particularly if it could further endanger your health. You may believe that it is your choice to take the risk and make the decision for yourself, but if you were to be seriously hurt or incapacitated, remember that your family are the ones who would feel the impact and probably have to change their own lives to care for you.
It’s Normal to be Nervous
However much you want to ride again you may find yourself experiencing nerves. A period of convalescence can shake confidence, whether your injury was caused by riding or not. It is instinctive to want to avoid harm and if you have been sore, bored or uncomfortable, it is natural to be averse to ending up in that condition again. You may have doubts over your balance and worry about how your riding may have deteriorated. Make sure that you have followed the advice in this article and set the experience up to be straightforward and easy. Don’t expect too much of yourself and ensure your major objective is just to enjoy yourself. The nerves will ease after the first session if you have planned it correctly and it is successful.
Choose Your Mount With Care
It’s not cowardly to not want to ride a horse that you had a bad wrong-way crash accident on, even if it was a fluke, or to want to avoid riding a particularly spirited horse, even if it’s your own. For your first ride, try to get on a kindly, easy going and solidly built horse. Even if you haven’t been near a riding school in years, it may be time to get some recommendations and ask to be paired up in a lesson with a calm schoolmaster who can carry you safely through an initial session. If you are keen to be back on your own horse and it has been in reduced or completely out of work since you have been unable to ride, bear in mind that it may be lively, and a fresh horse with a rusty rider isn’t a good combination. Perhaps a friend could work your horse for a few days and assess it before you get on, or you could borrow a quieter horse from a friend.
What Should I do The First Time I Ride?
For the first ride you should be able to choose to do whatever you feel comfortable with. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured either by friends or an overenthusiastic instructor. Try to ride a horse on its own, so arrange a private lesson or book the school for you and the horse to work by yourselves. This means that you are neither influenced by other horses and riders around you, or having to work as part of a ride, which may be difficult when you’ve had a long absence.
If you are working with an instructor or trainer make sure he is fully briefed about your background, any lingering pain or stiffness, and if you are feeling nervous tell him. A real professional should be sympathetic but encouraging. Also tell him if you experience discomfort during the ride and need to slow down or take a break.
You don’t have to canter or even go faster than walk if you want. It is most important that you get used to the feel of being on a horse again. Individuals will vary with how quickly they recover their strength and balance, and don’t be down-heartened if it feels alien to you. Whatever your fears you will not be back at square one. You still know how to ride; you just need to regain muscle strength and memory to support you and the horse through all the different movements.
Expect Muscles to Ache For Days Afterwards
You soon realise how physical riding is after even the shortest session following time off. Depending on how active you have been and when you were last on a horse, you may feel aching in your lower back and hips after first mounting up and setting out. This often wears off, but the following three days after your first ride may involve quite a lot of stiffness and aching in thighs, legs and back, varying with individuals. It’s sensible not to arrange any strenuous physical activity for the few days following your return to riding, but try not to be completely inactive. Incorporate regular short walks into your routine and take hot baths to relieve shell-shocked muscles. Remember this is normal and will be much reduced, if not completely gone, following the second or third ride.