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!