I have not been on a horse for six years.

This fact is one I’ve been saying for a while now, but this week it really hit home. Lately I’ve working long, exhausting weeks only to come home and slump into my bed or onto the couch to immediately morph into a shapeless lump. I might be sleeping, I may be staring at the ceiling with my eyes glazed over, but what I am positively not doing is moving. If it’s Sunday (my only day free) I may spend the entirety of its hours in my pjs, wasting energy only to transition back and forth between my bed and couch. A dismal picture, yes, but my reality nonetheless since my friends ABANDONED ME and moved to different cities. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

I actually wasn’t too terribly concerned about this new schedule of mine until I split two pairs of jeans in one week. Having to hold the waist of my jeans and jump up and down to get them past my thighs is, well, a little worrying but normal enough every now and then. Doing a deep knee bend to stretch them out to a comfortable fit only to hear that dreaded denim rrrrriippp…well, that’s just horrifying. And twice in one week is simply impossible to ignore. I’d been mulling over getting back into riding for months, but didn’t necessarily have the means or time to do so. Finally I decided to just go for it. For my butt’s sake and for my state of mind.

Going out to the barn for the first time in years was nothing short of exhilarating. The sights, the sounds, the smells- yes, the smells too- I’ve missed it all. I was finally home. And so, I happily handed over a check, joyfully signed the disclaimer saying if I died it was no one’s fault but my own, and eagerly counted down the days until my first riding lesson. I was handed a white horse named Trouble, which sounded a little worrying but, okay. I climbed on my fiery steed and prepared to ride off into the sunset. With a squeeze of my legs and a click of my tongue…and we’re off!!! …with a kick of my heels and a wiggle in my seat…giddyup, boy! …Okay, dude, move.  Turns out what while Trouble may have earned his name in his younger days, in the present it appears to be a bit of a misnomer.

While I am impressed that I remembered quite a bit, I realized quickly that my lessons weren’t going to be as advanced as they once were. In fact, I realized within minutes that even if I wanted to do the kind of riding I used to do, I was out of luck because my body was ultimately and entirely rebelling against me. In the span of one hour I accomplished what I normally would have done for a warmup six years ago. By the end of it all my legs were absolutely shaking in protest. Masochist! they screamed. Spiteful glutton for punishment! I explained to my legs that they would thank me in a few weeks time.

I don’t know where I’ll be in a few weeks time, but for the present I am miserable. Today is fifth day since my first lesson and it is only the first day I can walk without pain. I think back to when I started riding as a little girl and try to remember if I felt such pain then. Surely not, or I never would have gotten back on the horse. Muscles I didn’t even know I had (possibly because they haven’t been used in years) are absolutely making their presence known now. I think back to the time when I used to ride for hours all over the property, hop off, wipe my brow and head home. My biggest struggle back then was the fact my horse had aspirations of being a rodeo bronco, but when push came to shove I just hung on for dear life (I thought). Turns out, there were all kind of muscles working to keep me on the back of my bucking bronco, I just didn’t know it. Because I was in shape. When I think now of the difficulty I had riding the slowest horse in the world…I find it a little desheartening. I am officially out of shape.

We’ll see how the next lesson goes.