What? No Riding? Diagnosis Keeps Me Out of the Saddle

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by Karen Pickering


Suddenly the realization that I may be unable to ride for weeks even months is sickening. A year ago this spring I was driving to an event with my horse when I came across a newly born calf in the middle of our road; hours old and had managed to get underneath the fence where he belonged. The mama cow was frantic, calling to her calf. I stopped the truck in the middle of the road, put on my flashers and managed to corner the calf in front of an apartment as he tried to get away from me.

Capturing newborn calf who had gotten away from his mother. Photo Courtesy Karen Pickering.

As soon as I wrapped my arms around him he was quiet. I picked him up to take him over to the fence and see if I could get him back to his mother. I didn’t realize how heavy these baby calves could be. I suspect he was 80 or 90 pounds. I thought nothing of it at the time, as I’m use to lifting bales of hay and other heavy work that needs to be done around the farm. “POP”. I felt something give in my back. Even so, I kept walking with the calf, probably a hundred feet or so to the fence. I laid the calf down and tried to roll him under the fence but just didn’t have the strength to do it. I called John my neighbor to come help get his calf back in the pen.

John was there in minutes and got the calf back to his mama. In retrospect I should have just corned the calf, held him down and called John before trying to lift him. I was in a hurry so I figure John wouldn’t be able to come right away and I didn’t want to wait. Big mistake. I’ve been paying for it for well over a year. I didn’t notice anything right away but soon I found it painful to throw my leg over my horse. I pushed through the pain figuring it would heal itself. Now a year later, putting a leg over a horse is excruciatingly painful.

After yesterday’s visit to a Physical Therapist I’ve been diagnosed with Femoroacetabular impingement, an injury in the labral cartilage in my right hip. This means no lateral movement of the joint until this injury heals or I have surgery. For me this is devastating news. Even though this injury is typical of athletes and of course, middle aged women it makes me feel my age. I often fight with getting older, refusing to give in to signs of aging. My xrays show slight arthritis which is normal for my age (56) but it still doesn’t make me feel any better. So, what to do?

Hitching Chloe. Photo Courtesy Karen Pickering. 

Here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to religiously follow the PT’s exercise instructions and avoid anything that might cause further damage. The good news is there is no problem with walking. I can continue to lead April for exercise (she’s recovering from Laminitis) and teach my miniature horse, Chloe, to drive. Just being with the horses is therapeutic so I choose to focus on the positive and wake up each morning grateful for a few aches and pains that prove I’m alive. Gratitude is key to appreciating life so it’s my daily task to find 10 things every day I’m grateful for. Life is a journey, I just need to embrace the challenges and learn what I can from every experience. Have you experienced a health challenge that kept you from riding? Let me know what you did to get through the process.



Quote: “Reality can destroy the dream – why shouldn’t the dream destroy reality?”

George Moore – 1852-1933, Novelist

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