Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Freedom

For me, the best expression and feeling of freedom is riding.

I love to ride, whether its riding to accomplish something, or just going out and going riding. There's a lot of it that is mediative for me, and there's a proud feeling when I teach a horse something new, and they get it right the first time.

There's also that wild, free feeling when you give the horse its head and take off across a field at full tilt, like riding an avalanche.

Its a stress release, and a joy.

Its a rush, its humbling, and its the time when I feel that anything is possible, and everything is probable.

The sun shines a little bit brighter, the breeze is just a bit sweeter and all the cares of life just wash away in a feeling of contentment and quiet partnership with a gentle giant.

I guess its appropriate that I finally got to ride one of the new horses on today, of all days.

Happy Independence Day, folks. I hope that each and every one of you gets to have a moment today where you feel completely free.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Farmgirl, I know this one's about four days old now, but it sounds like you had a good 4th. I wished I *was* riding that day.

I haven't told this yet, but I'm disabled enough that I have to be real particular about which horses I get one. That cuts out a whole lot of riding because most folks around here seem to think rank horses are just a fact of life. I think that's sad they feel that way because they shortchange the horses and make them fight any effort. They look at me sideways for thinking differently to them and when I voice my opinion they're real fast return to their "safe little zone" of codependently thinking "horses are dangerous by nature". They'll probably never know a horse for the friend he is.

An old friend of mine locally... we've been aquainted for about ten years now... is a barrel racer. I can recall a lot of times I'd lean on the rail and watch her make her runs. Many of those times, I can recall my heart beating faster... an adrenaline rush that a lot of folks probably don't understand. I wish I could gallop a horse, but the way I am, I'll have to settle for a walk and maybe a lope. I never was the rider I wanted to be and certainly not the rider my old friend is.

So in a way, I envy my friend, and FarmGirl, I envy you.

mustanger98
(reader of LawDog, and now of Tractor Tracks)

farmgirl said...

Mustanger--

I'm not sure exactly where you are, and I don't really need to know, but look into local and semi-local disabled riding programs. You may be fine riding at a walk and a lope on your own.... but they'll have contacts to people, or people there, to help you figure out if there's a way you can feel more secure in the saddle, and possibly find a saddle or a way to build one that will allow you to ride more confidently.

It depends on your particular disability.. but they're building saddles now for people with prosthetic legs, with fastenings to hold the leg in place and give the rider a secure seat and also, so I understand, nearly the responsiveness that they could get with a "real" leg.

"Disabled" riding is making leaps and bounds, and I think its wonderful, since the focus is not on strapping a person to a horse and leading them around but on finding ways that the person can ride confidently and safely on their own, and do everything that a so-called whole rider could do.

Its only a suggestion, and you'll probably have to look around for one of the more progressive programs to put you in touch with the people you'd need, but for me... it would be worth it.

Anonymous said...

Farmgirl, Thanks for the suggestions. I know you said you don't need to know where I am, but I'm in the mountains along the Georgia-North Carolina line. There are no disabled riding programs that I yet know of close by where I can get there. The closest these folks will get to one of those is to get a select few of the gentlest horses in the local arena and lead them around with the mentally disabled and that's only twice a year. My problem is a partly fused back and I had to have both hips replaced at age 27 (I'm turning 33 next month). I can straddle a horse... I still have my saddle and it's not the problem. Mostly, I just can't afford to hit the ground. Well, also, I'd have to have a platform up close to stirrup level... that would kinda restrict my riding to an arena/grounds where that's available. I wouldn't complain about that though if it meant I were riding.

Thinking of ways I know of that some people use to feel more secure in the saddle, I remember back when I was around the team roping scene here- I used to call the times and running orders after learning it from another friend who did. Some of those guys talked about paraplegics who had back supports on the cantle- they strapped themselves in. There were two or three guys there who would have seatbelts on their saddles. I thought about that, but I really never liked the idea of being tied on if the horse went down. If some people at those programs know of more ways, that may well be a big plus. As it stands, the only way I know is don't ride english.

Those saddles for people with prosthetics... I take it you mean amputees... the way you describe the functional qualities, it sounds like a real good deal for someone with that problem. I recall when I was 18 and started having my problem, my parents and I consulted with some riding instructors who'd helped someone learn to ride with one leg. They said the rider did quite well, but that was fifteen years ago.

I'll probably think of some more, but I'll close this post.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm generally looking around to see what I can find.

mustanger

farmgirl said...

Mustanger--

The National American Riding for the Handicapped has member, and accredited centers all over the place. Their website has search parameters including region, state, and a combination of state and disability. Check it out. If nothing else, you can call and talk to the people who handle these kinds of problems all the time. There may be some kind of mechanical assistance that would help.

As for just not being able to afford to get thrown.... don't take this the wrong way, but if thats the main problem.... just cowboy up, swallow your pride, and take some lessons. If its important enough to you, you'll find an instructor that will help you learn to deal with the problems you have, and improve your skill. Don't settle for halfway if you can have it all.

Anonymous said...

Farmgirl, Thanks for the website; you gave me an idea where to look. I hit the search functions- which I'm not through with, BTW- but couldn't directly find an orthopedic program which would cover hip replacements. I'll keep looking.

On that part about the hip replacements, my reasoning is that on one hand the surgeon told me if I fall off, it could wreck the hip and leave me in a wheelchair with no way to rebuild it. On the other hand, if I ride and no problems occur, then I've gained that time in the saddle. Yes it is important.

I'm *not* offended by what you said, but I don't have to swallow pride to do this. It's a matter of getting with the right people with the right info, and with the right horse, much like you're saying.

Your info is giving me more ideas on where to look. I thank you for that. And who says you can't have it all, I always say.

mustanger

farmgirl said...

Mustanger, you're right. If you fall and bust up your hip, you could be stuck in a wheel chair with no way to get out.

So could I.

I've seen more accidents with horses and inexperienced or untrained riders than I have with more advanced riders. Simply put, even finding someone willing to moonlight and give you some lessons will give you a better idea of what you're *actually* capable of, rather than being afraid of taking a tumble.

If you can't find a NARHA program near you, you can find a riding instructor.

And thinking about it, riding English might be better for you than riding Western. If you rode Western before your surgeries, you'll have to unlearn a few things, but learning an entirely new discipline might help you figure out just what you can and can't do. Also, English is all about balance and coordination, rather than how many people learn to ride western, aka "grip it and rip it". It could work better for you than Western, if your objective is more to stay balanced and in sync than just to stick like a burr.

Anonymous said...

"Simply put, even finding someone willing to moonlight and give you some lessons will give you a better idea of what you're *actually* capable of, rather than being afraid of taking a tumble."

Farmgirl, I do believe you're right about that. Actually, thinking of it, I know an instructor who might help me... she helped me with a goofy experiment once in her round pen a couple of years before my surgeries. I haven't seen her since then except for a time or two passing her on the road.

"And thinking about it, riding English might be better for you than riding Western."

I'd have to learn to post a trot then. I'd find out if I can. The instructor I just mentioned... her type horsemanship is kind of a hybrid of English and Western.

"If you rode Western before your surgeries, you'll have to unlearn a few things, but learning an entirely new discipline might help you figure out just what you can and can't do."

Well, one thing is I learned to think differently than I did as a teenager and relate differently with the horse. It's been fifteen years since I've ridden; I went to surgery after everything else didn't work. Starting to ride now might be a whole new beginning in a way.

"Also, English is all about balance and coordination, rather than how many people learn to ride western, aka "grip it and rip it". It could work better for you than Western, if your objective is more to stay balanced and in sync than just to stick like a burr."

When I was riding in my mid-teens, "grip it and rip it" was about all I knew. Then I started reading about disciplines they said aren't about control so much as trust. Cutting was one thing I read about where an author mentioned that. I've been thinking about the "balanced and in sync" part a lot over the last ten years and it really does appeal to me. I just have to get with an instructor like we're talking about.

Catch you later...

mustanger

farmgirl said...

Cutting.... You'd have to be really picky about the horse. Cutting is a lot about being in balance and in sync with your horse, but a lot of trainers rely on the skill of the rider, rather than teaching the horse to move so that the rider and the horse both stay in balance. It could work for you, but I'd be careful.

Posting at the trot is more in the knees than the hips, there isn't much more movement in the hips than there is at a walk, the way I learned it.

Get ahold of the instructors in your area and see if one is willing to help. I'll bet there's at least one who would be willing to experiment and work with you.

Anonymous said...

On the cutting, you raised another real good point with the way the horses are trained. I'll be sure and be careful in any case.

You've been helping me put some things I've known into perspective with some I haven't thought of and I sure appreciate it. That about posting being more in the knees is good to know. The few times I tried to post- 18 years ago- I was probably doing too much in the hips and not nearly enough in the knees. Now, if I can learn it something like the way you did. My old friend... the barrel racer I mentioned... I've watched her ride plenty of times and she posts the trot all the time. Maybe she can tell me something about that too.

To get ahold of an instructor locally, I'm thinking seriously about talking with this one I met nearly ten years ago since I'd seen her and her students ride and seen how their horses acted real nice. Maybe she can tell me more than I've thought of asking, which you have too.

Thanks again.

mustanger

farmgirl said...

No problem, Mustanger. Feel free to ask any questions you think up, and I'll answer to the best of my ability, or try to find a resource to help.