It feels like I’ve been whining about winter for weeks now. It’s not just the cold, or the unexpected thaws, or the about-faces that plunge us back into ice and snow. It’s the toll that winter takes on my body. It raises the dreaded question: am I getting too old to ride?
I shouldn’t complain. I haven’t had a cold this winter. Or the flu. I haven’t had to drive out to the barn in the dark and come home at 10 pm, too cold and wired to sleep.
This is the first winter when the aches have – as the saying goes – settled into my bones. It’s the low back that’s sore for two days after I ride, and the knee that locks up with a sick, squishy feeling when I dismount. It’s the relief that nudges in amidst the frustration when the Weather Network flashes a red banner that reads, “Blowing Snow Advisory”, and the roads end up closed by order of the provincial police, meaning I can’t drive to the barn.
Really: am I getting too old to ride?
I used to think than when I was forty, I’d stop riding. Then, when I was fifty. When I was sixty. But each milestone passed and I knew I wasn’t ready. The thought of a future with no horse in it was just too bleak and depressing. It never once occurred to me that it would be my body that might ultimately dictate the finish line.
Even with the aches and pains, I’m still not ready. I’m finally appreciating how much I actually know about horses and riding. Who would have thought that a little brown Thoroughbred, my handsome Larry, would be the horse to teach me how to sit relaxed and deep in the saddle? To maintain a tactful contact through the rein? To have a data-based understanding that his resistances are because he’s uncomfortable; because, unless I ride him just right, he’s physically not able to do what I ask?
Fortunately I have an awesome team of health care professionals who’ve been keeping my body glued together for several years now. I’m trusting they can pull it off for a while longer. I still have some things to learn from Larry before I’m done. Some Larry stories to tell.
Some people might call this denial. I call it optimism.
Optimism is hoping that, come the warm weather, the aches will subside. Optimism is knowing that, come the spring, I’ll have my photographer back, which means I’ll have some action shots of Larry, rather than endless pictures of my brown horse standing in a field or posing in cross-ties.
But today, the weather kept me home, so here are some pictures of the other critters in my life. As long as I’m still able to sashay through blowing snow with a couple of German Shepherds, I’m surely not too old to ride.