It had to happen eventually …

… I fell off! Actually, I was bucked off! On to a very hard stony track, ouch! Its OK, no harm done, just a bit sore the next day. It was just one of those things – horses going nuts in the field next to us, a car coming down the track toward us, I was asking him to go forward and he didn’t want to, he couldn’t go back so he went – up! And I hit the deck :(

Its the first time I’ve fallen off Tom. So far it doesn’t seem to have harmed my trust in him although I am now a little more cautious about where I ride and how loopy my reins are! As I was flying through the air all I could think was, this is going to set off my arthritis big time! But actually, it hasn’t. So, there is a positive to be taken from this, my body is a lot tougher than I give it credit for.

Today is the first day of my 2 week Easert holidays from school. Heaven! I had planned lots of lovely riding time but have now discovered that the kids nursery is closed from Good Friday right the way through until I go back to school so, that rather scuppers my plans. Although the lighter evenings may mean I can get some riding in when Ade gets home from work.

But, the extra time at home will give me the opportunity to practice my baking skills in preparation for my latest idea which I will share here on my blog soon.

Haven’t been here for a while!

Wow, its been so long since I logged in to my blog that I couldn’t remember the password!

I haven’t been here for a while but this blog and its reason for existence are never far from my thoughts. My job as a teacher has completely taken over my life (more on that later) which has made posting here nigh on impossible but I am slowly trying to claw a bit of my life back for myself and so I am hoping to begin again where I left off logging my adventures with horses and PsA.

The latest on my PsA is that I have been taken off of Methotrexate by my new Rheumy. It was helping but not getting rid of the PsA and pain and swelling were still an everyday occurence for me. I am currently awaiting the funding for biologics which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, I am happy as I feel these drugs will be the key to a pain free life for me. On the other I am worried about how much they will effect my working life – my rheumy warned me they are hardcore immuno-suppressants and so if I get a cold or any other virus I will be knocked out and taking constant time off for illness is not something that goes down well in the teaching profession.

While we wait for the funding, the rheumy is trying me on Leflunomide which so far is not all that, but its early days. At the moment the side-effects are outweighing the benefits. Things are going to have to improve dramatically for me to be willing to forego (sp?) the biologics in favour of this.

So what about my riding? Well, truth is, I haven’t done much. Mainly due to lack of time, but I’m hoping that will change as time goes on. The little bits I have done have confirmed to me that the PsA seriously effects my ability to ride as I would like. My left wrist has no strength so I cannot hold a whip in that hand, my legs have not even half the strength they used to. Getting my riding back to the standard it was before the PsA came is going to be a challenge and is maybe unachievable but I am going to try. I have a lot of long-term goals that I will eventually share here, but right now they are only in germination and they need a little more time to grow.

Happy to be back on the blog and hope I can continue to find the time to share my hopes and fears with the world!

Riding is a remedy!

Well haven’t blogged for a few days. Its a busy time for me right now as I’m preparing to start a new job in a weeks time and I’m trying to get the kids settled in nursery and keep a lid on my nerves if I can! I’ve been shopping today for some work clothes and spent a good few hours wandering round town carrying bags. I’m paying for it now as I have pain in my ankle, wrist and elbow and tension has crept into my shoulders and upper back.

Managed to ride Dottie for a short time on Wednesday with Claire who used to own her before me. We recently got back in touch via Facebook (see, it does have positive uses and is not just a blatant time-wasting device!) and she is going to start riding Dot again which I think is so lovely and a very happy reunion! The old girl is fat as a pig and needs to get fit but otherwise is in very good health and loves to get out and about (I’m talking about Dottie here, not Claire! )

So, my husband is away working at the moment which I love as I can pretty much live on tea and porridge (gluten free of course) and I can spend my evenings surfing the net without feeling that I am neglecting him. I’ve been reading up on arthritis in general and in particular about arthritis and sport / exercise. More and more, gentle exercise is being recommended and encouraged as a way to combat the symptoms and progression of arthritis. In fact I read of one hospital in Portsmouth that was offering exercise classes for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-12893821

The kind of exercise that is recommended for arthritis sufferers is that which targets flexibility, strength, aerobic workout, resistance and relaxation and it got me to thinking – this is describing riding!? Isn’t it?! To ride a horse, you must be flexible, it helps build strength, it gives an aerobic workout, there is resistance involved when using the legs and the arms and the seat and, it is incredibly relaxing. What are my chances of getting it prescribed on the NHS?!? lol

Perhaps the trick is to try and overcome any fear of pain that riding may cause and actually look upon it as a type of therapy? Exercise definitely improves energy levels and helps to keep the muscles and ligaments that support our poor, arthritic joints healthy. Now, if I could only find someone to give me a massage afterwards, that would be perfection …. :)

First ride at the new yard!

This morning I decided I would have a sit on Tommy in the outdoor school at the new yard. This was the first time he had ever been in this school and the first time I have ridden him since we made the move down from the Wirral. He was an angel and I enjoyed it, even if it was a little short but sweet.

Last night I was trying to pinpoint what it is that gives me pain and see if I could concentrate on combatting this whilst in the saddle. Aside from the obvious sites of pain from the PsA, I often experience pain in other parts of my body which, I believe are due to tension in my muscles. The 2 main areas I suffer with this are my shoulders and my upper back but, when riding, the tension creeps down into my arms too. If I have had a particularly tense session in the saddle, it can feel afterwards like I have been run over by a bus and my arms in particular are so stiff and weak.

I am going to experiment with muscle relaxation before riding. I have done a little research and devised a series of short muscle relaxing exercises I can do just before mounting whilst stood next to my horse. I tried them this morning, but have to admit, I didn’t do them as effectively as I would have liked as I was a little anxious about getting on Tommy in the new environment and just wanted to get on and get it over with! But, in the weeks to come I will make them part of my riding routine and see what, if any, effect they have on tension in my problem areas and how much pain I suffer subsequently. Watch this space.

The other area I am concentrating on, obviously, is Tommy’s training. Due to the weakness of my wrists and elbows, I need him to respond to the lightest of rein pressure. I have continued with clicker training and voice command and he understands ‘woah’ very well now (perhaps a little too well as I get a dead stop when I say it!) I am going to be looking more at steering using leg pressure and seat too.

There is so much to do and try but its important I take it slowly and don’t try to do everything at once. He is a willing student and enjoys the interaction. I feel very safe when I’m on him and feel we have a strong mutual trust. All of this is a solid base to build on.

I must stress that I only rode for about 10 mins and all of it at a walk. So, I couldn’t really guage the effect on my joints. On the whole they felt good. The problems I can foresee for the future are that I cannot hold the reins properly with my right hand due to my swollen index finger and my left hand is very weak. Oh, and dismounting was a struggle. Definitely can’t leap off like I used to! Thank God I don’t still have my 17.2hh warmblood!

An inspirational quote

Read this great quote today from Bryon Janis a famous pianist and fellow PsA sufferer:

“Arthritis has taught me to look inside myself for new sources of strength and creativity. It has given my life a new intensity. I have arthritis, but it does not have me.”

I like this message and I think it can apply to anyone who has a chronic condition of any kind. Sometimes you have to change the way you do things, but it makes you look at life from a different perspective …

And I’m feeling good …..

Well, dunno why or how, but right now my joints are feeling gooooood!

Starting to think it may be the changes I have made to my diet taking some effect – see the Diet page for more info on this. This morning my joints felt better than they have done in a while and I only had to take 800 mg of Ibuprofen. If I can reduce my painkiller intake, I will be really happy :)

I’m also making a real effort to reduce my stress levels. This is not as easy as it sounds as I am a natural born worrier, but I am trying to take a more ‘let it wash over me’ approach. No doubt, this approach is helping, even if I am finding it hard at times and having to bite my tongue and remind myself that a lot of things just don’t matter.

It gets me to wondering why it is that I sweat the small stuff so much? And how to retrain yourself after a lifetime of doing so? Any tips appreciated !

Today, the kids had a short settling in period at their new nursery which went really well. They will be starting full days next week. I’m almost beside myself with excitement at the thought of having all that time to spend at the yard. So watch this space for lots more horsey posts, which is what this blog is meant to be about, after all!

Hop along ….

Had the farrier to the neds today rather unexpectedly. I called him to find out when he was free and it turned out he was round the corner so he came straight away.

Had to walk up and down to the summer fields 3 times in total to bring in and turm out and when I was done my ankle was wrecked! But, nothing new there I spose. Haven’t been able to walk long distances for a long time now.

Thankfully, both the horses are very easy to manage on the ground, but, every now and then, one of them may get startled and jump and pull back and I get a twinge in my elbow. Its a little reminder that if one of them decided to bugger off I wouldn’t have the strength to hold them. It remains to be seen how I cope if one of them gets strong when I’m in the saddle. That situation hasn’t arisen, yet ….