A few days ago while staying the weekend in the beautiful mountains not far from home, I was feeling a little sad, as we have hiked these mountains and they are SOOOO beautiful! Where we were staying was neither wheelchair nor crutch friendly, and it felt disappointing, but then hubby had a fabulous idea! “Let’s go for a horse ride up the mountain!” he said!
My initial response was “are you kidding???” … but he said that we could go on the beginner trail ride and just slowly meander up the mountain and back again. No trotting, going slow, and that it wouldn’t be that different to a wheelchair maybe? And we could get up there with the views and open country, and experience it again! … and when he said it like that, it sounded like a great idea! So we signed up quite eagerly 🙂
His second brainwave was that we leave the wheelchair and crutches in the room and I hobble down using his arm, and then that way they won’t try and turn us away! I couldn’t hide the fact that I was clearly not overly mobile, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone, and as there were only four of us plus the guide, I truly thought that is was going to be great!
There was a concrete stand to get onto the horse, so I didn’t even have to worry about how on earth I was going to get up there, but as I put my left foot into the stirrup I was suddenly extremely aware of my LFI! Lisfranc Injures are extremely rare but they used to be very common, and almost all of them were done through horse stirrups. They are named after someone Lisfranc who was a doctor back in the days of horses being the major mode of transport, who noticed how many people damaged that particular part of their foot and it was almost always due to coming off horses and the foot getting stuck in the stirrup!!!… and so that is not only where the name comes from, but where safety stirrups come from, and why the injury is so rare today!! (but becoming more common with sports that have foot straps in the same place like kite surfing and wake boarding).
The guide then set off and the horses followed, and I somehow landed up at the back, … but I actually felt at the time that this was maybe a good thing, thinking I could just plod along without having to worry about anyone behind me. Hubby was at the front and the young honeymoon couple in the middle. For the first twenty minutes as we slowly climbed the mountain I thought that this was such an AMAZING idea and I am so glad that he thought of it! I was imagining doing this more often, and the slow rock of the horse was relatively comfortable and I even went so far as to feel like maybe keeping my balance was probably good core exercise for me!
But by half an hour I was starting to get rather uncomfortable. You know when you fill a jar with something like sweets or pasta shells and you want to fit even more in so you shake the jar around so that the contents settle and move to the bottom? Well that is what was happening to my bones! As the horse was swaying and rocking my bones were settling. They do that anyway without shaking, when I sleep and my muscles relax, so I am used to waking up every morning and taking a while to put them all back into position again before I can walk, but this was a whole new ball game with all that movement! My legs were at strange angles and curved under the body of the horse instead of sticking out, and I could no longer make them come out again. My hips were getting REALLY painful and knees were aching. My lower back was struggling and I was beginning to realize that this wasn’t such a good idea after all! And I called out in front of me but with the wind and the honeymoon couple only seeing and hearing each other, no one heard me!
To add insult to injury, every now and then as the mountain got steeper, my horse was often making a bit of a run up a good section, and so did a little trot! Only for about thirty seconds a time, but if the horse walking was like shaking the jar, then the trotting was like when you BANG the jar on the table to make those pasta shells REALLY move down! I have ridden horses before, and I know how to trot, but to trot you need a lot of pressure on your foot and EXACTLY on the Lisfranc joint! So there was NO WAY that I could even force myself to do it properly and had NO option but to bounce around for those thirty seconds at a time! NOT COOL!!!!! And so suddenly everything was ten times worse and I could not move my bottom half AT ALL! My legs were at bad angles and I was starting to hit really bad pain!
And then we started the decent and I had to lean back quite hard because it was so steep. It was HOT and I couldn’t do anything but try and use my hands on the saddle in front and behind me, to hold some of the weight, and just ride it out (excuse the pun!!).
The “path” was very rocky and the horses hips were moving around even more and we went through scrub and branches which scratched my legs and I couldn’t move them out of the way! My legs got caught on a few tree trunks and at one point my right foot was pulled right around backwards and I couldn’t do a thing about it! By half the way down the mountain I was actually crying, and after the foot bent backwards I was sobbing quietly 😦
By the time we got to the bottom it had been about an hour, but I was in so much pain and needed to get off but my legs and hips were all so badly “settled” and out of position that when I tried to get off I couldn’t move my legs at all. My muscles would still have been working but the bones were in the wrong spots and the ligaments all over stretched to the limits! The honeymoon couple thought I was crazy and got out of there as fast as they could, while hubby and the guide tried to get me off the horse! They physically had to swing my legs over and settle me back on the concrete stand, where I collapsed into a ball and let it all out and SOBBED!
We very quickly realised that there was no way I was going to be able to walk anywhere never mind back to the rooms, so the only option was back on the horse!! As much as I hated the idea I knew that there was nothing else I could do, and so I let them put me back on the horse and walk me back to my room where there was thankfully a stone wall so that I could get off again, and into a hot soaking bath and bed till lunch…
Talk about a rip roaring disaster! Not just a vague fail! I have never been so immobile and so completely unable to do anything! Not to mention it was excruciating and I have had no spoons for the few days since and am still very sore. I don’t regret it, it was worth the try and a good idea in theory! But NEVER AGAIN!!