After 3 terrible brain injuries -the worst of which a terrible on the ground injury that involved a rearing horse falling and pinning my head against the bottom of a stall door- I have been told I have a lot of temporal lobe damage and somewhat impaired motor skills. NOT TO MENTION, horrible depression, crippling anxiety and PTSD. I'm a mess, basically. But the good Lord preserved my personality and all I want is to get on a horse again!
After my most recent injury this past February- a car crash- I was told not to ride until I got the all-clear. As a pick-me-up earlier this summer my DH helped me by trying horses in order to buy me a new trail prospect that could maybe also do some low level dressage. Then I got tested by my neuropsychologist and was told the extent of my damage- and that I shouldn't ride for the next year and a half.
The question is, is it stupid to ever want to ride again? I love it more than life and a life without it sounds hardly livable. But I'm also more fragile now. My drs have both said I could ride again eventually, my counselor believes it will be good for me, and I am bursting at the seams wanting to play around on the new horse I thought I would be riding by now :/. But that horse almost took my life and certainly changed it.
I look to Courtney King-Dye as an inspiration these days; she got back on the horse and is bravely trying. And horses/riding are who I am, my great passion. But I don't want to be foolish. I only have one life and I want to live it with my husband for years to come.
I don't have any advice, and I can't imagine what you are going through. You definitely aren't stupid for wanting to ride. I'm not supposed to ride ever again... haha. I will be back up in the saddle the minute I think I can get up there.
Sometimes you have to weigh the risks vs reward. I know that I am happier when riding so the risk is mostly irrelevant.
Wait. I do have a piece of advice. Maybe get yourself a Steady Eddie type horse, or start with lessons on a solid schoolie. There's risk and then there's RISK. If my horse was reactive and jumpy, I would sadly not get on her again.
I don't blame you for wanting to ride. I also have health issues that theoretically should keep me from riding. I ride anyway. I don't jump. I don't ride green horses. But I do ride. It makes me happy. I hope you get to ride again.
Wait until you are cleared physically and then I say get right back on. Although I haven't had the brain trauma you've had, I had three very bad accidents over the course of three years, the middle of which involved a burst fracture of my lumbar vertabra and permanent spinal cord damage.
Getting back on my horse was never a question. I now have a physical disability and am Grade III para-equestrian, and like you, I can't imagine a life without riding. There is something so right about it and now, with my disability, it is the place where I feel most able. I can't run, jump, stand on my tip toes, wriggle my toes or even stand still to talk to some one unless I am holding onto something or someone. But on horseback, I gallop, trot, jump, and can do anything.
I agree with GotGait, find the right horse and take it slow. I'm very cautious about the horses I ride now and the situations I ride in, no reason to tempt fate by being silly!
I don't have advice, other posters gave better than I could.
Not stupid for wanting to ride!!! we want/need to do what we are passionate about. When I came back to horses, I felt like I was reborn. If that was taken away, I would have a LOT of trouble.
For all the time we spend with these things, how much of it is actually on their back? Yes, riding is important to me, but not as important as just being at the barn & around them. SO while you are taking it slow, don't skimp on this !
Forgive me - I'm not going to cheer lead on this one. I have prior TBIs too.
I am *in no shape or form* trying to say that one type of disability trumps another - but do keep in mind that orthopaedic issues might keep one from riding due to pain, limited range of motion, surgery etc. Further brain damage might keep you from riding because you are in a vegetative state.
As others have said - there are other things to do involving horses that may not be as dangerous as actual riding. The safest mount can still slip, trip, or stumble. If you determine that you must ride - then accept it and go - while weighing the pros and cons in a non-emotional, relaxed state.
You're not stupid for wanting to stay with something that's been your passion for a long time!
Do check out (with a doctor's approval) approved therapeutic riding programs. Many were originally designed for children but are now working with disabled veterans and other adults. (Try http://www.pathintl.org/ to start.) You *may* even be able to get your medical insurance to cover some of the costs.
One of the most amazing people I know is a woman who was really getting there as an eventer, some years ago, when she was tossed by her horse and had a severe head injury. She could have died... when out of the hospital she started going to the barn again and very gradually rehabbed herself. She is still impaired, but teaches at a therapeutic riding center and rides a bit.
"You have to have experiences to gain experience."
Kira- Have you ever considered driving? First off I have to say that driving is my preferred equine activity, while I can and do ride- I love to drive! I hate to suggest driving to a person who has a passion for riding as if it is a second choice, a step down, or a compromise of whats left that they can do with all they have left... because I don't think it should be like that! Driving is a fantastic fun challenging sport that you can do at many levels and it's not a compromise for not being able to ride- it's the REAL THING... just a different thing.
Driving is not without risk, but it does not take the same balance and physical effort and strength as riding, and it can be done with a partner if there is any doubt that you might have a spell that would cause you to need someone else to take over.
Are there any facilities near you where you might be able to give it a try?
I think it's sad to think "It's either risk my life riding or no horses at all" when it doesn't have to be that way.
I would love to learn how to drive, but I don't know where to start. I don't want to buy all the gear at first in case my horse doesn't take to it. My horse is pony sized. I guess I would have to find a pony driver around who could teach me.
Some horses don't take kindly to driving at all- but others transition really easy. You are smart to not invest assuming that your pony will do it. There are also so many kinds of harness and vehicle and what goes together for what purpose- you really need experienced help shopping for the parts when that time comes. Also- green + green = black and blue... still applies to driving too- so finding a driving facility where you could take lessons with one of their horses- and then have professional help in training your pony is the cheapest way to go- no matter how much it costs.
There is therapeutic riding also that might be best for now.
Not if riding right now is contraindicated for her problems, until she heals further.
Maybe she is not supposed to be where her body is moving in the way it does on a horse.
I just had some more surgery Monday, 9th in 7 years and every time I wonder if I can ride ever again and, sure enough, there comes a time that I can.
Some time maybe I won't and that is ok, I still can enjoy horses watching others doing things with them.
Ask what you can do, what you should do, maybe if you can care for and groom horses, or be a side walker for handicapped riders, or whatever you can think you would like to do around horses.
To be happy, we need to work with what we have and can do, not dwell too much on what we wish we could do.
Just be patient, time does pass fast and you will be better soon, especially if you do exactly what they tell you to do to get better.
Edited to add, driving is not easier than riding, but more involved and I think more risky, in my experience, when driving regularly and all that you have to do and all that can happen.
Driving is not so smooth, generally is rougher than riding and when things go bad, the wrecks can be more impressive than any riding wreck ever was.
I wonder if those that recommend driving are doing much driving themselves.
Driving is wonderful, especially when all goes well, as in those awesome winter sled videos, but there is more to driving that those moments.
^^^^^ What Zu Zu said. I don't blame you at all for wanting to ride. I would too. In fact, I would ride. But don't take that as encouragement. I have very little value for my own life!
Brain injuries are not only about "your own life".
Brain injuries are about the quality of your life, a very serious matter.
Better let the brain injuries heal as much as possible.
Those are not like a bone that didn't set quite right or broke again from being too impatient to wait a bit longer and you end up with a limp.
With brain injuries, your judgement of what is sensible to do also may be a bit short of what you need, so real risk increases.
Brain injuries are a whole 'nuther kettle of fish.
I don't think you're stupid at all, but I would wait and give yourself some time before you get back in the saddle. If you do happen to get into the saddle you need to take your time and not jump back into it too quickly.
Here's a few alternatives that I find helpful when not being able to ride, may sound childish, but it helps a lot!
-Take pictures: Whether it's shows, around the barn, or even in the pasture, it's a different way to spend time with horses without being on their backs.
-Groom groom groom!: You can never spend too much time grooming, and it helps to develop a bond with your horse.
-Teach tricks: Over a time where I couldn't ride, I taught my mare how to give kisses on command. It's helped me realize that she does care (Even if she just wants a cookie.) And it helps a lot to have a bond that you can do something and have a horse follow you. -Bowing, rearing, kissing, lifting their lips.(Smiling) etc.
Hope you get back in the saddle soon, and hope you feel better! ( :
I too concur in the therapeutic riding center approach. However, be careful as anyone can (and some will) hang a shingle out as a TRC. My b/o has had a therapy program since 1994 and I have volunteered on and off over the years, including many sessions with adults with TBIs. You maybe able to find a niche for yourself, even if it's not on the back of a horse for the time being. The few times I was sidelined for a while due to broken bones, just walking in the barn and breathing deep was what I needed.