I played with my mare the other day. First step towards riding. Haven't been on her in almost three years: logistics, life complications, all that. I cut saplings and tied them to standing trees to make a semi-round pen so I could work with her.
The mare: Laredo, aka The Potato, nice little pintaloosa who turns eleven next week. Got her as a three year old when the clock was ticking on the last few years of my mobility & athleticism. That was before I knew I'd be an above-knee amputee, but it kind of hovered in my mind just out of sight. So I tried to do an exceptional job when I started Laredo in 2004. I wanted to still be riding her when we were both old and grey. And I rode her the first few years as an AKA.
Working her with a flag in the pen the other day, she was her usual snotty self. This is the first ten percent of her Boss Mare persona. Next she was very polite: coming in to me, working on the rail, halting, turning, backing, walking with me, all at liberty. Then the next forty percent: pure appaloosa. (Sorry to use that breed-ist slur. I've had apps my whole life. I do love them, despite the donkey-streak.) The Potato has an amazing brace that surfaces even when she's moving. That shoulder just sets; she bucks and kicks out at me, flipping me the horse bird. The real horse is one more layer down beyond the cranky bitch mare. Then she's polite again, turning and backing and sidepassing just by my pointing at her. It's like a dialogue, a conversation with a thousand-pound being. That day, it felt great like always. We both worked up a good sweat.
And I realized that I hadn't noticed the pain in my right (=organic) knee. The joint's pretty much demolished. The pain pills don't work anymore; neither do injections. I'm young for a replacement, plus it's my "good" leg which equals difficulties beyond the norm. But it's getting worse and worse. I'll have to do something, just like I had to do something with the other leg. Meantime I wear an unloading brace more and more.
But walking around that corral for half an hour I wasn't even aware of it, only that my rough gait & occasional stagger keeps me from dashing to wave the flag (a plastic bag on a stick) at my fiesty horse.
It was a happy surprise. I'd forgotten the freedom I always felt when I worked with horses, how absorbing and interesting and fulfilling it is. A dozen years ago I had foot surgery. I'd decimated my left foot walking on it with that fused knee. The doctor said I'd been stepping onto a bunion, bone spur and dislocated toes for two years. Whenever I'd gotten moving, I didn't feel it. (Or maybe no brain, no pain!)
Wish I had a couple more legs to help me out. But hey--I know where to borrow some. Real soon.