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  • Writer's pictureSarah Rivera

Begin Again... Again

They say that when God closes one door, He opens another. How true that seems to be for me this past month and a half. Some of those doors, I knew were closing and yet, I still mourned the finality of it. Other doors, I desperately wanted to open for me and I beat them with my fists and screamed in frustration that they were not opening as I wished. But the doors that did open, those were unexpected and, although not quite what I had in mind, they were the ones I needed.

I confess, I'm a big picture kind of person. I can tell you what things could look like at the end of the journey. The finished, polished completion that could be. Everything from beginning to the end of that picture, well, I'm not so great at. I know the general steps that need to be done, the milestones, but all the little details between those milestones, yeah, that gets fuzzy for me.

I admire detail oriented people. They notice things I don't even think to consider. I'm just not wired that way, so while I know where I want to go, getting there has proven to be harder than my original picture. Funny how doors open in the midst of struggle.

A year ago, I was thrown from my horse. Nothing major. She just spooked at something and I landed on my back in the dirt. Even the calmest of horses can have a bad moment. It wasn't the first time I had ended up on the ground. After dusting myself off, I noted that I would probably be sore for a few days, retrieved my horse who seemed very sorry for losing me and got back in the saddle. Ten steps from the mounting block and I knew something was wrong. My hip was killing me and I knew something wasn't quite right.

My fall landed me in the chiropractor's office and, after xrays, she found more than just an off hip. Turns out, my whole back was out of alignment, and not just a little. My hip, she said, was not my main problem. It had only been the catalyst for my first visit which uncovered a bigger problem with how my body was carrying itself. I was not standing straight and tall. I was shifting and twisting which would cause long term problems as I grow older if not fixed.

Sometimes fixing a problem, especially one you weren't previously aware of, takes a lot more time than expected. I went to the chiropractor for months. It felt like forever before my hip started feeling better at all. During this time, I couldn't make myself get back in the saddle. I convinced myself that my horse was done being ridden and would just be a nice companion pony. Even if she could still be ridden, I didn't know where to start. What I had been doing, hadn't been working for us and I wasn't eager to fall off again. So I talked myself out of it and that, I thought, was that.

Except it wasn't. A new friend joined us at the barn and after a month or so, she challenged my decision to not ride my horse. I answered her with the logic I had justified in my own head about why that wasn't the best idea. She didn't even blink. All those fears and excuses I had built up in my own mind were just that, excuses. I confessed I didn't know how to move forward to riding again and that's when she gave me one of the most generous offers. She would help me. She would help us both.

We started so far at the beginning I think it was a prequel to the beginning. The little things that I had ignored or hadn't considered to be a big problem turned out to be foundational problems for my relationship with my horse. We had to begin again, on the ground, nose to nose. Some days were rough. I had to change my mindset about how I saw myself and my horse. But little by little, our relationship improved.

Then, we put a saddle on her. I was nervous about the idea of climbing into that saddle, but I knew it needed to happen. Only that day, it didn't. What I had failed to notice was the pain my horse was in under the saddle. Now, if you don't know horses, they mask their pain very well so that they won't be targeted by predators who want to pick them off. Thankfully, my trainer recognized it and the saddle came off.

And then, another door opened. The next day, the horse chiropractor came out and had time to squeeze in my little mare. Turns out, not only was her back out, but her neck and head too. After one session, I saw such a change in my horse and I was amazed. She relaxed like I'd never seen her do before. Some behavior issues she had drastically reduced. Here I thought that we would never ride again and not only did the right person come at the right time, but both of us are now getting the medical help and training we need. Shortly after that, I was back in the saddle. And it was frustrating.

Before, I had been riding an English saddle. You know, the little one with nothing to hold on to. My previous lessons had all been in this style of saddle and riding. Now, I was sitting in a western saddle and all my muscle memory was wrong. I was holding the reigns wrong, I was asking for things the wrong way. Hardest of all, we were starting with walk and stop. Five steps, stop. Five steps, stop. My little mare wanted to go go go, and that just wasn't going to cut it with the new trainer. "She doesn't get to go anywhere until she learns how to stop and not move until you tell her."

How ironic that my little horse and I have the same issues. We both want to go go and get to the end, yet both of us have been forced to stop, look at what we are missing, and begin again. We are still a work in progress. Today we may even get up to a little trot, but our relationship has changed for the better. We are both getting the physical help and training we need to move forward. There is still a lot of work ahead for both of us, but it seems that rushing to get to the end creates more problems than just embracing the journey and waiting for God to open and close the doors we need.

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