So it’s 8 weeks on since breaking my ankle, and despite that I’m normally working as a Physio, teaching, plus riding four horses, I’ve still found myself crazy busy! I’ve been lucky enough to be doing heaps of teaching, clinics, Level 2 Coaching work, and helping with timetabling for squad. I don’t know how I’m ever going to go back to work! For those who are interested, after breaking my ankle I had a plate and two pins inserted to hold the fractures together. I then had to hop around for 6 weeks as I was unable to put any weight on the foot. Now that might sound easy, it’s not! I mean, just the hopping around part was fine, but trying to rug/catch/lead/tack up horses- that’s where things got hard! However,
although I wasn’t allowed to put weight on my foot, I did get stuck into my rehab straight away. I found it amazing that only after two weeks of having my foot in plaster, how altered my sensation was around my foot- meaning pins and needles, and a burning sensation if you touched my big toe. I was also astounded at how quickly I lost muscle off my left calf and quad, and how quickly I lost the ability to “switch muscles on” by squeezing them without moving the joint. Although I don’t think that my injury has helped me be more empathetic towards my Orthopaedic patients (come on guys, it really doesn’t hurt that much), I feel I have gained a better insight into how my Neurological patients feel having altered/lost sensation and activation of muscles groups- and my brain isn’t even affected (much).
Horse rehab and people rehab are inherently the same; start with a program guided by professionals, and look for the improvements/reactions. For our equine partners- the professionals of our horsey world have likely rehabbed every injury imaginable, multiple times, throughout their careers. Ask for their advice! The more information you have, the more tools you have to successfully rehabilitate your horse. Remember that pain is the body’s way of protecting itself, and sometimes the old saying “no pain no gain” doesn’t lead to desired results. In human rehab- as physios we accept a level 5-6/10 pain as “safe area”- depending on our clients pain tolerance (except for those who say 10 for everything, then we smile and just say do it again). However, when rehabbing our equine partners, we have to use our “feel” and signals from our horses. Horses, like humans, will look to “trick” when asked to do work which is hard or difficult. It’s important to not punish the horse for their reaction, rather keep riding the movement in question and as soon as you get the desired result reduce the pressure. In both human and horse rehab, you always have to build on the “repetitions”, and there are always two steps forward, one step back. As you start to do more in rehab, you may experience increased fatigued, swelling or pain. It’s important to look for these signals and back a rehab program off when needed.Ice/bute (or Endone-magical drug),compression and massage are all important tools in rehabilitation.
I’m now back on riding three of my horses; Quin, Vas and Ella, I can tell you after riding three horses a day I quickly realised how much core stability I’ve lost as well! I was so excited to finally get to use all of my gorgeous gear from Equus, as at Ballarat I didn’t stay on long enough to get many photos! Huge thank you has to go to Ruth for coming along to watch on the second day of squad, and take some lovely photos! I know though if I had fallen off again Ruth would be banned from ever coming to comps again! But huge thanks and gratitude go to those behind Equus- who have stuck with me through this tough time! I can’t wait to see how this business and friendship continues to grow over the coming years☺
I’ve made the decision (with gentle nudging from my mother and boyfriend) that I won’t compete XC until my pins have been removed due to the implications of falling off with the pins still in place. I had hoped to make it back for Ballarat and Naracoorte, however my surgery is now going to be mid May, meaning the whole season will be done and dusted. I’ve spent many hours (and lots of internet data) planning out my new season of being a dressage diva, and hopefully the three ponies will come out of this season much stronger and more consolidated in this phase, and that I’ll be sitting straighter with shorter reins (I’ve only been told that since I was about 10...). I’m also (fingers crossed) going to take the opportunity to go overseas to visit my boyfriend who has moved for work for the next six months. The saying “when one door closes another opens” has never been more evident to me this last 8 weeks, and for someone who is OCD with planning (as anyone who has seen my copious lists prior to an event will know) this has been a huge experience in being relaxed and “going with the flow”.
So unless my surgery is bumped forward a couple of weeks so I can have an event start, hopefully in my next blog I will be able to say that I’ve successfully completed my level Two NCAS, had a great couple of months of dressage competitions, that I've nailed our flying changes, and the team is ready to get stuck into a jam packed July- December season of eventing.