Afternoon at The Equestrian Centre for Disabled Riding

My New Friend Paddy

We have a horse ready for you, she said, He’s called Paddy.
I thought today was an assessment to see if I was suitable half hoping I wasn’t so I could say at least I’d tried. But there I was and there was he, padding the ground with his big hooves and tossing a snowy mane with a touch of attitude. Ive never given horse riding a thought, not my kind of thing; it’s something other people do especially pretty young girls with long blonde hair and money.

But life is different now and I want rid of the label that I stamped firmly upon myself the day I was diagnosed, the one that said “Fragile, handle with care”.

Paddy was kind but I could see a stubborn streak in his velvet-brown eyes; we were a good match. I was lowered carefully onto him, my nervous frame meeting his strong back; I was clumsy at first working against him but he slowly taught me his rhythm as we moved around the arena and before long it was as though we were one and the same. This was a good lesson in trust, first in Paddy, trusting he wouldn’t decide to play games and throw me off and secondly in my leaders who reassured me that if he did they would  catch me! I felt alive for the first time in two years.

After the lesson was over I gave Paddy a carrot to say thank you and stroked his head;
he licked my hand to say well done, and nuzzled my chest. This was a moment to savour and to save in a special corner of my heart; I have brought it out several times since during quiet moments of reflection; it always evokes a warm smile for Paddy and a sense of achievement for me, something to hold onto in times of self-doubt.

When I arrived home I stood in front of the mirror. There was no pretty young girl with long blonde hair but the woman who faced me was determined and strong. We smiled at each other, and then together we slowly took firm hold of the label that said “Fragile” and ripped it off.

 

 

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68 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ina
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 13:12:39

    That must have been quite some experience, Christine! 🙂 Horses are so huge! It is great you got the opportunity to show yourself what you are capable of! Kiddy up 🙂 L&H xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 13:31:01

      Thanks Ina! Someone else posted something about horses today and I suddenly realised I hadnt told anyone in detail of this experience. So that’s where the post came from, and also I seem to have dried up a touch poetry-wise 😊 L&H xx

      Reply

  2. Cynthia Jobin
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 13:23:02

    I’ve tried riding at an arena….only once, because it was poorly supervised for beginners, my horse got spooked by a cat that wandered in, and threw me off. I know you’re supposed to get back up on the horse right away—which I did, to save face, but I never went back again! How I admire your spunk, you spunky old darling!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 13:37:02

      Oh my gosh Cynthia! I dont think any horse’s eyes would look velvety after an incident like this! I don’t blame you for never going back, I wouldnt! Ive only been twice so far and then I had a lot of back problems so Im trying to pluck up the courage to do it again. But if I don’t I can be content knowing I did it. 😊

      Reply

  3. Janette moran
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 13:52:57

    I love this, you write so well. Maybe your poetry has dried up to allow a little space for your prose skills to shine, you write so well it is so easy to read and engaging ….and I know I may have a little bias with you being my mum but I still think it’s all true 🙂 xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 14:05:21

      Aww thank you Janette. This is such a lovely comment. Ive been meaning to post a poem about this experience but it always comes out as prose! So I thought I would post it while the river is dry poetry-wise! 😊 Xx

      Reply

  4. Miranda Jane
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 14:06:53

    Horses are amazing creatures. I’m so glad you had a good experience with Paddy!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 14:36:35

      Thank you very much Miranda for visiting and leaving this lovely comment. I have always loved watching horses and looking at paintings, , photos etc, but to get up close with one was an experience I will never forget. Their eyes are wonderfully deep. I hope to have another ride on Paddy sometime soon. 😊

      Reply

  5. leamuse
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 14:36:26

    Brilliant Christine! I love reading how you grow and go from strength to strength!

    Love

    Xxx

    Reply

  6. Jane Thorne
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 15:09:08

    Tears of happiness in my eyes for you my funky teapot friend as I read this. Beautiful words and a beautiful story woven through this special event. Bless you and Paddy. Fragile, you?? Nah!! Beautiful? Yes, very. Much love. Xxxxxxx Perfect post…Xxxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 15:27:58

      Aw thank you Jane, and for the little nudge you unwittingly gave me after my reading your post. Poetry-wise I seem to have run somewhat dry so I thought a piece of prose would keep me oiled at least! And what better subject to write on than my afternoon with Paddy! 😊

      Lots of love
      xxxx

      Reply

  7. Rob McShane
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 15:27:04

    Way to go Christine! It’s amazing what we can do when we ‘just do it’ and not allow the fear of it to get in the way, isn’t it? Good for you! And am sure the poetry will return in it’s own time! …..Oh and thanks for following! Thoughts with…

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 15:33:13

      Thanks so much Rob! I thought I was already following you but WP seems to have played one of its tricks and unfollowed me. Anyway, all is sorted now hopefully.

      And you are right,it is amazing what we can do when we just do it. As someone who has always been full of fear, mainly a fear of failing, I seem to be charging throughis barrier since my iagnosis. So a kind of inverted thank you to MS I guess! 😊

      Reply

      • Rob McShane
        Apr 17, 2014 @ 16:23:40

        Know the feeling! It is strange when one says that MS has ‘given’ me many things, but it’s true. I have learnt so much about myself that, in my rush to ‘be’ someone or ‘get’ somewhere, I never saw before. When the mat is pulled from under you, you gain a different perspective on life and how we think about it, yes?
        Wishing you a great weekend…

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 17, 2014 @ 16:55:37

      Wishing you a good werkend too Rob. Apologies for all my typos. My excuse is that I can now only type with one finger on one hand which is true, but my ability to check for errors is still alive and kicking but you wouldnt think so!! Im too impatient to click “post”! 😊

      Reply

  8. Peter Wells aka Countingducks
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 15:57:19

    That’s a lovely story of quiet courage, facing your fears and making new friends across the species at a time when you thought such things were beyond you. Leadership can come in many guises, but what you did there, as well as being healing and affirming for yourself, was inspiring for others: that’s what I call real leadership

    Reply

  9. Starralee
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 18:58:36

    Even though I knew about this from the first, reading your post got me all misty-eyed again. Such great courage, life takes–it is GOOD when we can be examples of it for others, Chris. I’m going to be pondering who or what is the “Paddy” in my life…

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 18, 2014 @ 10:18:46

      Thank you Starralee. Yes you have travelled with me since the conception of this “crazy” idea, which wasnt crazy after all because I did it! I do hope to do it again; I wish you could be a spectator!

      Reply

      • Starralee
        Apr 18, 2014 @ 18:22:37

        It would probably be like when I’m watching “my boys” ride bulls–helping you ride by shifting my body back and forth in the spectator seat!

  10. SuzyHazelwood
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 23:03:24

    This is an OMG moment Christine!!! 😀 It’s a long time since I’ve ridden a horse, but my memory serves me well, it’s not as easy as it looks. You have to use a lot of muscles just to stay on! That was a big step for you to take, and I’m so pleased to hear it rearranged your thought patterns about yourself – those moments in life are priceless!!

    There is a real fixed association with horses in our modern era that they are only for the fit, healthy and beautiful people of this life, but that’s such a modern day illusion. They were part of everyday life at one time, and I’m sure people even of the early 1900’s would fall over laughing if we were able to go back in time and tell them that horses are just for sport, pets, and sheer fun for the sporty types of our world! 😀

    I love the way you’ve ended this autobiographical post, by ripping that fragile label off – so good that, and a lot of us need to rip a lot different labels off. I shall have a think about what ones might be stuck to me. I suspect I might be a while ripping away at those labels! 😉

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 18, 2014 @ 10:27:18

      Thank you Suzy. i was terrified when I first got on him. i have a close up photo of me which I chose not to show here, showing my terror! And having one side of me pretty useless gave me even more insecurity but there were monents in that first lesson when I did actually relax into it a little. Ive only been tice so far and had o stop because of back pain, but I do intend to try it again.

      And you are so right about how horses were used in the past and the association we have created now with class, money and looks is rather ridiculous!

      I had seen a programme on TV about a disabled riding centre and that’s how this came about. I was determined and very pleased with myself! 😊X

      Reply

  11. lscotthoughts
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 04:47:17

    This story and reflection brought tears to my eyes, Chris. What a wonderful and rewarding experience it must have been for you and Paddy sounds amazing. I’ve always loved horse back riding, the idea of it, riding on the beach, such a tranquil image. However, I’ve only been a few times and each time the fear factor rises to the top. I’ve enjoyed it and horses are beautiful creatures, but they’re big and the drop is a long way down! 🙂
    By the way, I’ve never thought of you as fragile and I surely don’t now and your ending was one of strength and affirmation.
    Wonderfully written story and one that will be rewritten as you continue to ride. Hugs and blessings! ♥

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 18, 2014 @ 10:33:43

      Thanks so much Lauren. It looks so much easier than it is when you see accomplished riders trotting along. But Im really pleased I did it even if I did feel as if I was falling off all the time! I relaxed a little though and put my trust in the people leading and talking me through it. I will do it again I think,it is good for balance and core stability and I get to stroke and cuddle Paddy too! ❤ Xx

      Reply

  12. Libby
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 10:51:41

    Good on you Christine. I love horses, we had some when we had the smallholding and I do miss them. Very brave of you but I am so glad you enjoyed it.

    Reply

  13. wbdeejay
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 13:04:08

    A wonderful experience, thankyou for sharing. In particular the sign ripping part, I loved that.
    Ms.Pac has been learning to ride side saddle – a long dream of hers since growing up riding bareback ponies. She doesn’t have money or long blonde hair either, but passion and desire like you. xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 18, 2014 @ 13:43:12

      Thank you very much. And determination and passion are certainly the key. Its strange too,how adversity can bring courge to the surface.

      Thank you for taking time to comment, its much appreciated.

      Reply

  14. bardessdmdenton
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 18:45:55

    I heard a wonderful line from a new Indian movie out called, ‘The Lunchbox’. which I must see: “Sometimes even the wrong train can take you to the right destination.” When I read this post, it immediately came to mind … how you are doing things, experiencing life as you never thought you would … and all because you were pushed onto the “wrong train” (no doubt, sometimes it feels like you were pushed under it!). Also, in thinking about doing that cover we ‘talked’ about, I hope to have it represent your ability to catch the rain and let it nourish and grow who you are and those around you. Specific to this post: I see more and more how horses are used to help to heal and offer confidence, courage and hope. Found this online: “”Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors for dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations. said co founder of EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association)” … also: “Horses have many characteristics which lend them to being effective agents of change, including honesty, awareness, and ability with nonverbal communication.” Well done and beautifully expressed, Christine. Lots of ♥! XO

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 19, 2014 @ 09:49:49

      This is such a lovely comment Diane, and thank you so much for taking the cover illustration that little bit deeper; this is exactly how I was thinking. And I just love the quote about the wrong train! I must hold onto this one, it says lots, not just for me but all of us. I checked out the link on your fb page and I will make sure I watch this movie! It sounds very good.

      I also love the other quote you gave me. Ive often heard it said how much horses can help us but I didnt appreciate it as fully as I do now, having been so close to one. I would lve to get to know Paddy better and I will go back to the centre but my back has been very bad for a few weeks so I will wait until it feels right then I will do it. Im seeing an osteopath on Tuesday to see if she can help my back on a regular basis; fingers crossed. Lots of love ❤ xx

      Reply

  15. Jackie
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 23:52:22

    This is so wonderful! Words can barely describe how happy I am for you! 🙂 xxoo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 19, 2014 @ 09:51:24

      Thank you so much Jackie! It was a fantastic experience. I hope you are doing ok? Xx

      Reply

      • Jackie
        Apr 19, 2014 @ 09:56:31

        I’m hanging in there – physical therapy did not go as well as expected so I had to stop. It was hurting more than helping – thanks for asking. I should be back to posting on Monday. 🙂

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 19, 2014 @ 10:04:55

      That’s a shame about the physio, but youve tried it and if we don’t try then we don’t know. I tried acupuncture for my back but it wasn’t doing me any good so I had to stop. It hurt me and I have enough pain already! Lol. I’m really pleased to hear you will be posting again! Missed you 😊 xx

      Reply

      • Jackie
        Apr 19, 2014 @ 10:08:58

        I have missed you and posting too! I look forward to returning. I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend. 😊 xx

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 19, 2014 @ 10:19:06

      Hope you have a good Easter too Jackie.xx

      Reply

  16. PookyH
    Apr 19, 2014 @ 06:37:48

    Oh I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this – you sound SO determined, I have heard wonderful things about the healing power of horses. I’ve never spent any time with one but if they are, as 2 year old Lyra told me some time back ‘giant cats’ then I can imagine how wonderful they would be as companions 😉 xx

    Reply

  17. Through My Eyes
    Apr 19, 2014 @ 08:41:57

    Oh Christine this brought a tear to my eye. Good on you for being so strong. Horse riding can be very daunting. Horse and dogs are my favourite animals. They have so much to give and we have so much to learn from them. A beautiful piece Christine. I hope you post more of these xxx 🙂

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 19, 2014 @ 10:00:44

      Thanks so much Norma. You’re right we have much to learn from them. I have always loved horses in photos and on TV etc but being so close is just magic. There seemed to be a connection straightaway and there is just such a depth of what feels like wisdom in their eyes. Thank you for this lovely comment xx

      Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 19, 2014 @ 10:17:38

      😊 there has always been a part of me that wished I dare to try. Then I go and wait until a whole side of me doesn’t work properly! Strange what adversity can do. Xx

      Reply

  18. Minuscule Moments
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 05:14:32

    Christine you are an inspiration, horses are such beautiful intelligent creatures and they are in tune with us at times, sensing our fears or worries. Animals in general have a way of lifting our spirits. You are brave, not fragile. You are courageous and most of all unique, thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    Reply

  19. greenlightlady
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 02:58:25

    Christine, you sure know how to reach in and touch a reader’s heart as you share yours. This brought the lovely kind of tears to my eyes. Hooray for you!

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    Reply

  20. harulawordsthatserve
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 06:58:45

    You really do write prose soooo well Christine. This is a very powerful and evocative piece, with some stunning stand alone sentences ‘I felt alive for the first time in 2 years’, ‘We smiled at each other, and then together we slowly took firm hold of the label that said “Fragile” and ripped it off.’ Just brilliant! And it’s funny, because I went riding just yesterday! My niece loves riding, so we all went on a hack to the beach – it was fabulous:-) I used to ride a lot as a child, and it all came back. What’s with me still is this notion of being carried – is both the beauty and the vulnerability of trusting in a being that’s stronger than me. I think it’s the magical mixture of strength and sensitivity that makes me love horses. I hope you and Paddy can meet again once your back is better. Love and blessings, Harula xxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:26:45

      Thanks so much Harula! Wow, riding on the beach, now thats my dream. 😊. Im totally with you on what you say about our relationship with horses, it’s so very special and quite magical.

      I went for my first osteothapy appointment this afternokn to try and help my back and it was just brilliant! I can actually feel the blood coursing again down my MS side. Im going again in two weeks and will probably keep that up. So together with my physio exercises I hope to see Paddy again soon!

      Lots of love and blesings xxx

      Reply

  21. Kit Minden
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:13:00

    Great going!

    Reply

  22. beckarooney
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 12:59:04

    This was such a heart-warming read Christine. It sounds like you had a wonderful experience riding Paddy, working with animals in any way is therapeutic. I would label you as many things but “fragile” is definitely not one of them!! Lovely post 🙂 xx

    Reply

  23. Angela
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 13:18:44

    Oh, I got goosebumps reading this, Christine!! Good for you. If your strength of character and size of heart are measures of a strong future pathway, it will be paved with gold and engraved with the scrolls of your soul’s wisdom. You are an inspiration, my friend. Much love. xxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Apr 30, 2014 @ 14:47:04

      Thank you so much Angela! It was a wonderful expeience and I do hope to go again. I just need a few osteopath sessions to try and ease the chronic back pain which, for some reason, has been worse lately but Im getting there. Thank you for this lovely heart warming comment.

      Much Love xxx

      Reply

  24. Thomas Davis
    May 01, 2014 @ 02:08:47

    If this does not make you smile, Christine, then I don’t know what is likely to do so. Ethel loves horses. When we lived in New Mexico we had a fenced in area next to us, and for years the rancher kept horses there. Ethel, and the young woman who was intellectually challenged, often went over to the fence with carrots and other food the horses liked. When the rancher pulled the horses away from the area Ethel was afraid the horses were sold for horse meat, but I don’t know. I do know that it was not a happy day.
    Our grandson Joey and granddaughter Phoebe, the artist, both love horses. Joey is autistic, and horses are the best thing in his life. Unfortunately buying time when he can be with them is expensive, and he does not get as much time with them as he deserves, although they are one of the greatest joys in his life. Phoebe is simply a good horsewoman able to ride spirited horses with spirit.
    I hope you get to go again. Ethel is convinced that animals are more worthy than people, at least most people, and are actually more intelligent. They live in concert with the earth, she says, as you probably already know from your poetry.
    I am so glad you wrote this. It shows your spirit that swirls out of your poetry into a woman in an arena on a horse. Well done.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      May 01, 2014 @ 14:49:05

      Thank you Tom. Please tell Ethel she is my kind of person as I also think the same about animals on all counts. And after being with Paddy only twice, I feel the therapeutic value which was a simple connection that words cannot describe, but neither are they necessary. He was so gentle as we walked together and I think it was love at first sight on my part at least. I ,too, hope I can go again; I just need to sort the back pain out a little more before I do.

      Reply

  25. lemanshots
    May 07, 2014 @ 14:23:02

    Heading to new shores.Well done!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      May 07, 2014 @ 14:37:28

      Thank you very much for visiting and for your lovely comment.i have had a quick glance at your blog. What wonderful pictures! I am trying to use a camera and I like taking close up shots of flowers but Im afraid I can only manage autofocus as my hands are very weak now but I enjoy it and that’s the main thing. 😊

      Reply

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