Question of the day.

What’s a hundred times harder than it looks?

My answer:

Perhaps not exactly a hundred times, but one thing that jumps to my mind right away is horse riding. People who have never done it or just sat on the horse while someone else led it, or rode purely hippotherapeutically, often have no idea and are like “Well, you just sit on the horse, what’s difficult about that?” 😀 I’ve even managed to come across a person who thinks it isn’t a legit sport. Apparently the same applies to ballet, it looks like it’s an effortless thing and it’s supposed to look like that, but it’s absolutely not. And while I have no idea about ballet, I can tell you that there is a lot more to horse riding than sitting. You’re supposed to move as fluidly and smoothly as possible not only because it looks better, but also because you don’t want to screw your horse, or get an injury yourself, and it’s simply more effective in achieving the effects you want. So, for example, there’s a technique called rising trot, where you rise in the saddle every time the horse’s outside front leg moves forward as he’s trotting. This is because doing so is way easier on the horse’s back than sitting trot, especially when you trot for longer periods and/or can’t sit the trot very well yet and bounce a lot or something. Except it isn’t really rising. A lot of people, including myself, do that mistake at the beginning where you rise vertically, almost as high as possible, but that’s not how it should be, because it’s neither good on your muscles, nor the horse’s back either, and if the horse has a really powerful trot you can end up bouncing quite a lot still. What you should do instead is rise forwards. You move your upper body forwards, open your hips and swing them forwards, and straighten up your knees in the stirrups while keeping your heals down. I don’t know if I explained that well enough but oh well, I don’t know how to explain things like that and I’m sure you can check it out yourself in case you’re curious. My instructor says it shouldn’t even be very visible that you’re rising or anything, it should be very smooth. So uninitiated people looking from a distance like my Mum think you’re just sitting on horseback and relaxing while your thigh muscles get all wobbly after half an hour’s practice of this “sitting”. 😀 And you have to remember about rising and falling to the right leg, so you have to be synced with your horse, and, probably the most difficult thing for me, you obviously have to keep your balance and have everything coordinated properly. Now I can do it quite well (or could when I was riding the last time, I haven’t ridden in over a year now as you may remember) and even though it can seem like more hassle, once I learned to do it properly I found it more comfortable for my own muscles to rise to the trot than sit it, especially on my first horse –
Ɓoƛ – who was a very big and sturdy horse and had a really heavy trot, with Rudy I don’t really mind either way because, as my instructor says it, his trot is so soft that you could sit it while sipping on a coffee at the same time, and it makes rise trotting very easy too. Nevertheless, it took me ages to figure the thing out and learn to do it well. There are also more such examples in horse riding where the thing looks not only really great but also totally effortless but needs quite a lot of effort and getting along between the horse and the rider.

What’s such thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

What do you do for exercise/recreation?

My answer:

I used to do a lot of horse riding, which was my main, if not only, form of exercise for many years. I’m not really into any other sports, nor am I good at them. I started with it in primary school only in the form of hippotherapy, because that’s what is mainly done at the stud where I go to, as it mostly serves disabled people, most of them quite severely disabled with severe forms of cerebral palsy and severe things. However, my hippotherapist is also a riding instructor and at some point she suggested to me that we could do more of riding as a sport, since I don’t have a severe movement-related disability, and do just elements of hippotherapy in it, which I was very happy to do. I also participated in some local competitions for disabled youth. Now though, things with my horse riding have been suspended for a looong time and I don’t really even know when/if they’ll go back to normal, for several reasons. First there’s the pandemic now. Even if it perhaps is an option for some people to do sports while wearing a mask (I have no idea how they do it) it is definitely not an option for me, because despite I’ve been riding for years, I’m at the same time allergic to horses and while this allergy is mild enough that it can be super easily managed with anti-allergy meds before and after the ride, I still do experience some mild respiratory symptoms of it, and having to additionally wear a mask would make breathing rather tricky. Social distancing wouldn’t work either because my riding instructor assists me a lot of the time especially when we’re somewhere that I’m not familiar with or when I’m learning some new technique or something or sometimes she holds me when I do some exercises on horseback that I feel insecure about because of balance stuff.

Besides that, even before the pandemic my instructor has had a crazy life. She had a breast cancer two years ago, which thankfully is a thing of the past now, but as she says it made her change her life and realise that she wasn’t prioritising the right things before. Besides being a horse riding instructor and hippotherapist, as well as a keen equestrian herself, she is also a very busy neurologist by profession, and a mum of a primary school-aged boy on top of all that. Before the cancer, I remember her as being always super busy and in a hurry and she kept saying that she wished a day would have more hours so she could squeeze more things in it that she had to do, yet she was also always very positive and energetic and rarely seemed very tired or worn out with all the comotion going on in her life. Yet when she got the cancer and several other things started going wrong in her life at the same time, it made her realise that she really needs to prioritise her mum role over her professional life, and maybe focus some more on her own riding for pleasure, which she had very little time and opportunity to pursue because she was constantly teaching other people and she had no time for riding just for the sake of it. That meant that she decided to slow down with work a bit and also with the stud, so I was seeing her less often. Then there was also some financial trouble they were having with the stud, and then my horse – Ɓoƛ (or Elk in English) – the one on which I rode primarily, died. All the horses at the stud where I go are older, often have some diseases and stuff or have had difficult or traumatic experiences before. Ɓoƛ was no exception, he was in his 20’s and had several illnesses, but ultimately died of bronchitis. Because my horse riding was very irregular already then, I only learned about the fact a lot later and it was a huge shock, because we’ve known each other for like ten years and we were a really good team, even though he would often fall asleep or get lost in his daydreams while I was riding him. 😀 After that, when I did go riding, I would usually ride on another horse – Rudy (or Redhead in English) – a very cute fjord horse whom I used to ride already before whenever Ɓoƛ had a day off or something and we knew each other well, and I really do like him very much as well, in fact, in a lot of ways, Rudy is easier to ride because he’s a lot smaller, lighter and a lot more sensorily perceptive so riding him requires a lot less strength and muscle effort, and he’s also a LOT shorter so I feel less insecure in terms of balance. But at the same time I never felt like we get along sort of emotionally as well as we always did with Ɓoƛ, we’re on quite different wavelengths while with Ɓoƛ we clicked instantly, so much so that even though I used to be scared of riding before, it miraculously changed the first time I rode him, or at least got alleviated enough that, despite the anxiety, I was able to fall in love with riding enough that I wanted to continue it even though I’d always be very nervous beforehand. He always was extremely sensitive to my feelings and especially when I was anxious. Often, even just his presence made me feel more at ease, perhaps because he was absolutely, unbelievably phlegmatic, like you’dthink absolutely nothing can phase him as if he was half-asleep all the time. 😀 Rudy is a lot more lively, which is super cool because you can have more fun with him and generally do more spontaneous things, but we just don’t have as much of the emotional connection and he’s quite anxious himself so my anxiety makes him more anxious and vice versa.

Then during winter before the pandemic has started, I got that weird, recurrent thing on my calf that I sometimes get during winter, apparently it’s similar to eczema but I don’t know really what it is or what’s the actual cause, anyways, it takes ages to heal and it hurts when walking and stuff or when something rubs on it which is quite hard to avoid when you’re riding and have riding boots on. So during winter I stopped riding completely. I’m always massively frustrated when that leg thing happens to me because as you can figure out I do love riding very much, but that year, my frustration was accompanied by a hint of relief that I won’t feel obliged to ride. Because the last few months of my riding, I found it more difficult than before. I wrote here many times before about my first experiences with riding in nursery and how I didn’t really like them and found horse riding super scary because of my balance problems, but how I then got into it later at our local stud because Mum read that hippotherapy would be beneficial to me. Even though I ended up loving horse riding, partly because of my very competent instructor and her being able to understand my issues around it, and partly due to Ɓoƛ magic, I never fully got rid of the anxiety and always felt quite anxious before riding and it took me some time to relax. Some times were worse than others. And I guess after Ɓoƛ’s death things got a bit worse generally and it became more difficult for me to feel at ease when riding, so that finally at some point it started to become more and more of a struggle for me to actually motivate myself to do it, and was no longer as much of a pleasure as it used to be.

So now, having not ridden since before the start of the pandemic, I don’t know if I’ll get back into it. I’d love to, I miss being in the saddle, I miss that feeling when I am finally able to relax my brain and my muscles while riding and I miss how freeing riding can be once you relax, I miss Rudy and I miss my instructor, with whom I really enjoy talking. But on the other hand I’m not sure, I just have super mixed feelings about it. Also I know that, while I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from horse riding, at the same time it’s very paradoxical that that’s the sport I’ve been doing, because I lack pretty much all the skills that are said to be required to be a good rider. My balance, coordination and sensory integration are all fairly rubbish, and I’m allergic to horses on top of that. Still, I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good rider despite that, given my possibilities, and I do feel I’ve achieved a lot and am quite proud of myself in this department. Being an equestrian is definitely a part of my identity since I’ve been doing it for years, and it would feel weird to decide that I’m no longer going to do it. And I don’t have as much interest in any other sport or physical activity, so I don’t know what I’d do instead. Yet at the same time I think it’s not really something for me because of my difficulties. I just don’t know.

But because I don’t do horse riding for now and I haven’t yet made up my mind on whether I will or not, I think I still need to do something so that if I decide to go back to it, I won’t realise that I’ve regressed physically. Therefore, I regularly go for walks with my Mum when we both can, often quite long ones, which I like as it can be a good way to clear your mind, although not as effective and cathartic as horse riding can be. I also do some low-key core exercises at home that my instructor recommended to me and that I also used to do in between my riding days, which I consider fairly boring as any form of workout so I’m not always as systematic with it as I should, these days, but it’s just to keep my muscles in some kind of shape.

How about you? 🙂

I am just so darn lucky! đŸ˜ 

Guess what? I’ve got the skin infectionn on my leg, again. I was writing about it early this year, that I get very weird skin infections, or whatever it is, on my calves and I can’t, no one can’t, figure out the reason. I’ve been to three dermatologists and two surgeons with it and everyone is kinda clueless. I thought it’s maybe allergy, but I can’tfigure out what could I be allergic to that I don’t know of, and I don’t apply any chemicals on my skin nowadays consciously, most of the cosmetics I use are homemade by our lifestyle guru – my Mum, the rest are either al natural or hypoallergic, if I need to use anything else which is extremely rarely. Hell my Mum even got me tested for diabetes because we were worried it’s healing for so long, but I don’t have it. I’ve been told I once had staphylococcus in it, but not much more, and I’ve got a lot of meds for it, which worked sometimes more, sometimes less, but always very slowly.
It doesn’t look too bad because it’s always small and I’ve never had any complications, but as I said it heals for ages, like a few months, and I have scars after that shit, I have it twice a year, so if it doesn’t stop, I wonder how my legs will look in ten years time. It’s also pretty painful most of the time and makes long walking or standing a bit hard.
I’ve felt my leg hurting since last night but I didn’t figure out it can be that until I saw it bleeding when I was going to shower a few hours ago. I was mad.
I wouldn’t be whining at all, after all I kinda got used to it and many people, including me have to deal with worse and more important things, but this time it drives me crazy for a reason.
It means that, AGAIN, I won’t be able to ride for God knows how long. Some part of me is starting to wonder whether I actually should still insist on riding if there have been so many things speaking against it over the years. Maybe it would be wiser to give it up, or maybe there’s something else that God has planned for me, but I can’t accept it, and won’t. Not yet at least. I guess I just have to wait some more. Maybe then I’ll get some luck with riding finally. But OMG I’m so angry with this!