Thursday, 29 January 2009

Back on the Horse - well, nearly...

Many of you will know that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and how it has ruled my life for about the past 8 years. When I was immobile at the beginning of the illness, I lay in bed thinking I'd never move again. Doing things like making jewellery were a long way from my mind. It started with an ear infection after a walk on a Anglesey beach, and that led to some viral thing ...and eventually I was diagnosed with RA.

Whilst I was laid up in bed, I planned and plotted. I found it was important to imagine the future I promised to myself, 'WHEN I get up, I am going to have my own horse'; to be honest, it seemed very unlikely I would be able to do that.
When I got out of bed I forced my bones into taking some lessons - none of them elegant and none of them good experiences for me or the horse, but at that point I decided it was time to buy a horse (trust me, this is NOT the way to do things).

After looking at various horses and spending piles of money on failed vettings I eventually found Merlin - the way we met was a bit weird - I went up to the Lakes to see a horse and during the journey I decided that if I bought this one, I'dl call him Merlin. When I got there the horse was not the right one and I went home disappointed.
I was searching online the same night, and up popped this horse - who happened to be called Merlin - so of course I went and looked at him...he was shouting at me over the stable door and I fell in love instantly...

I brought my lovely boy home to the local livery yard and everyone lived happily after...if only it were that simple...
We got through the whole thing of me giving him totally the wrong feeds which could have given him colic, falling off because I had not done his girth up, and his generally being aggressive towards me (which we eventually resolved)...and I rode him for about a year, but then the RA kicked in again and the most I could do was drag myself down to the yard to take care of him. He gave me the strength to get up in the morning, and something to believe in.
Since then I have not ridden, I told myself it wasn't important - and I have become a 'nervous rider' - getting on and off particularly terrify, though I did it that as a child without problems.
Since having started on the new RA wonder drug Actemra eight months ago - I am so much better I have considered getting back on the horse. As far as I can see the only downsides of Actemra have been rapid weight gain and high blood pressure, but hopefully this will taper off as I become more active.... I I can still feel my RA, but it no longer completely dominates every single waking and sleeping moment.
I started off the sensible way and looked into learning to ride (again) on a mechanical horse - a horse simulator, and found a place in Oldham which has one -
It does most things that a horse does other than misbehave, and I have just finished three weeks of lessons - having not done anything so strenuous for so long, there were bits of me that hurt I had forgotten I had....but over the three weeks I got better...and this week I rode a real horse - about a third bigger than Merlin, but a real 'plod', and I managed to stay on!! I started with a quiet riding school horse because I want to establish a modicum of confidence and competence.
Longer term goals are to be able to ride Merlin in the countryside with the rest of the posse at the stableyard perhaps by spring - I learned patience in dealing with RA, but now strangely I find I am having to re-learn and adjust to being well enough to do things like this...if anyone had told me I would be able to be do this one day, I would not have believed it. So, a hopeful start to the New Year - will keep you updated.

Above - a riding lesson on Ruby at Croft End