In this week’s Best of Jumper Nation, Meagan DeLisle looks at something that unites us all — what we do while we’re recovering from an injury.
You might recall my blog late last year about my crappy ankles that didn’t know how to do their job. After months of intense physical therapy, I finally got the sign-off from my doctor to move forward with my plans of competing in Florida for the winter circuit. We scheduled my follow-up later in the spring and parted on one not-so-promising note.
“Just be careful, Meagan,” he said. “Your ankles could still give out on you.”
Feeling confident in my abilities to ride, I all but forgot about my ankles, which weren’t really good at being ankles, and pushed forward with the Florida season. My first week of showing was spectacular! I was on cloud nine and looking forward to what my second week would offer. Thursdays are always my first showing day of the week, and I trotted into the ring with a big smile plastered on my face, ready to bring home that blue ribbon. My horse was at her prime! I had never felt her so excited to do the job, and she was jumping out of her shoes. As we approached the last line, an oxer, five strides to a two-stride, I was confident we were going to go clear for the jump-off.
And then, I was falling.
It is embarrassing, really. My horse was so freaking fit, but I wasn’t. Traveling back and forth to Florida to show sounds amazing, but it is hard. I don’t have the ability to ride and train when I am home, so once I get to Florida, it is off into the show ring I go. Both my horse and I saw the long spot, and she took it happily, but her jump was so impressive that I just kind of popped off. No biggie. As I started to tumble down, I thought to myself: “I can stick the landing and be okay!”
Only… my ankles suck, so the minute my feet touched the ground, I knew I was screwed.
Two torn ligaments and a surgery scheduled later, I am out until at least May. I gave myself five minutes to be sad and cry, and then I sucked it back up. Let’s face it; I am not super lucky. I always have one somewhat decent injury a year (at least this time a horse isn’t stepping on my face). The positive here is that I will be back in the saddle in a few short months, and my ankle will be stronger in the long-run.
But what does one do during this mysterious “downtime” from riding? Well, I am just two weeks in now, and let me tell you, I am already driving everyone around me insane.
1. Horse shop… duh
Because there is nothing better to do when you can’t ride horses, except buy MORE horses. On a serious note, I am actually casually on the market, so no I am not wasting anyone’s time. But hey, a girl can window shop, right?
2. Eat. Sleep. Breath Horses 24/7
As if my poor husband didn’t have to put up with me talking about horses a lot before my injury, now it is all I have to keep me sane. So I watch every live stream, I read every press release and I engulf myself in the sport in a way that is driving everyone around me absolutely bonkers.
3. Buy all of the things online
I swear, it is like all of the stores I love decided to have a “Meagan can’t ride so let’s discount everything” sale. Bear and Rumba both have new turnout sheets, new flysheets, new supplements and the list keeps growing and growing…
4. Watch all of your old videos
In the ultimate form of self-torture, I probably go back through my highlight reel of videos once or twice a week. This is usually accompanied by a carton of ice cream and some serious ugly crying, followed by a quick search of inspirational quotes on Pinterest and an overwhelmingly positive “you got this” mentality.
5. Live vicariously through your friends
I may not be able to ride, but my friends are! So you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be at every show I can, boot and all, to experience the ride with my pals. Sorry guys. You are stuck with me.
6. Invest your energy into some weird, strange new hobby that you will dump the minute you can ride again
I have buried myself in my work, but that is only from 9-5. What the heck am I supposed to do in my free time? This is the moment I call rock bottom, the moment that you have to find something to keep yourself entertained or your family and wallet are going to hate you. So what did I decide on? Trying to train my hopeless pack of dogs to do cool tricks. Seeing as none of them have any manners at all and they barely know how to sit, it has been fun to say the least.
7. Snuggle your horse and dream of the day you ride again
No doubt about it, my saving grace in all of this has been having my Beary boy at home. When I start to feel down about my spring plans falling apart, I hobble out to the barn and spend my afternoon grooming and loving on him until I feel better. Just being around horses has been my own source of therapy to get me through this experience and, despite it all, I am so thankful that I am involved in this sport.
Only onward and upward from here!