Wet sheep and unicorns

Slaying my MS Monster with horse therapy

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See that pic in the title – anyone who has been involved with horses knows what that picture smells like and its intoxicating. You can keep your flowery perfume, your scented candles and your pot pourri. The smell of saddle soap, horse poo (yes, poo!) and the breath from those nostrils up there – heavenly.

Horses are my new weapon in a long fight with my MonSter. I’ve been dragging the little bugger around like a wet sheep over my shoulder for 4 and half years. So now I’m going to try and slay him with unicorns. To a degree, I think it might be working..

After 15 years out of the saddle, I started riding again with the Riding for the Disabled Association. Every week I drag myself and my little MonSter along to the stables for a lesson. I say drag.. in my head I’m skipping along but the reality is light years away from that!

Throughout my new life with MS, I’ve had this huge issue with having a largely invisible disability. There are benefits to that but it does make it very difficult for people to understand. That’s why I ride with the RDA, they ‘get it’. To the untrained eye, I’m perfectly able to get on a horse and ride. Getting on a horse and riding with an invisible MonSter however is a wholly different thing. I was a very experienced rider many years ago; I rode everyday, I rode for a living, it was a very natural, easy thing for me to do. Riding with a MonSter in the saddle is very different. Its painful, un-nerving and exhausting. So why the hell are you doing it, I hear you cry?!

Because on the flip side, its fun, exciting, exhilarating. You guys can’t see it but the pain, tremors and ‘wet sheep’ like fatigue are constants in my life. I can’t make them go away but I can dilute them with joy and horses provide me with that therapy. Its making me stronger and fitter. Physically, I pay for it heavily after every session but doesn’t everyone that pushes themselves through exercise? Mentally it makes me alive, it gives me the ability to set goals, to dream. It’s a classic case of pleasure vs pain and for now, pleasure is winning.

I’m taking a sensible approach and focussing on dressage (aka ‘horse dancing’ to the uneducated), rather than any of that dangerous jumping malarkey. After a year of lessons, I’ve qualified for the National Championships this year. More through luck than judgement on my part but who cares – it’ll be fun! Can’t wait to learn more, improve and do it all again next year if I’m lucky enough.

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Me and my friends unicorn, Arnie, riding our first test for over 20 years!

So, if you want my advice, get up and get on a unicorn. Fill your house with the smell of ‘horse’. Go to a tack shop and inhale. But don’t take your credit card – that heady mix will knock all the common sense out of you and drain your bank balance in an instant..


5 thoughts on “Wet sheep and unicorns”

  1. So happy for you! When I was diagnosed with MS my walking was already affected and I thought straight away that I should take up riding again. But before I could start I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my spine and was told that on no account should I ride, which was a real bummer. I have to make do with my mobility scooter. When on holiday I rode my scooter across an empty beach and imagined I was riding again – wonderful! I too love all the smells associated with horses, including their poo 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Jo, you and Arnie look just immaculate. So elegant and precise in halt. Although the work that came before that halt, to a small degree, I can appreciate. To everything horse that you say, I would agree 100 fold. & to do with going to a tack shop and the bit of plastic, well Fred the ferret lays lots of diversions to avoid me getting into them. (stealth is necessary!). I do so wish I could come to Hartpury in July, but we will be with you in spirit. Lots of love to you and Jake, Eliza PS I do like the way you write, I can smell that equine poo xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the idea of getting on your unicorn

    And I guess, for different people, unicorns may appear in all manner of shapes & colours . . .

    Long may that horse dance to your smile, Jo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gorgeous Jo. Lovely piece to read. So many of us have MonSters and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but you sum up beautifully the thing that unites us, the gritty determination to have a great life and not stop living. You set a fine example. X

    Liked by 1 person

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