After three months of hand walking the vet cleared Essie for riding. Good news! But reality sucked. The vet’s rehab prescription: warm-up up for 10. Trot for 20. Cool down for 10. Ice for 20. Repeat 6 days out of 7. Each week add 5 minutes of riding. My usual 30 min hacking turns into two hours. Sure, Essie and I bonded more with stall rest, but as the weeks turned into months it’s been hard not riding the way I want to. She was excited too to be ridden, behaved herself, even. My trainer said, “Looks like a re-set, you might have a new horse when you’re done.” As I rode, Essie did what I told her to do. Three weeks in, at the strenuous part of rehab, 30 min of full trotting (wow), Essie re-set. She demonstrates emotions. She spooks at jump standards that are outside the arena and at other horses. She is annoying. After passing the same flower pile for the 10th time she tries again to skirt around it or prances up and down, swings her tail toward the ring’s center. I’m frustrated. I start talking. “Don’t be an asshole” and “You’ve seen this like ten times. Get your butt over here.”
And she does. She falls in and all the tension leaves my body and riding becomes fun again.