So I sent her ugly, sunburny thoughts and waved SOS signals towards my husband and daughter who hadn’t seen what had happened and just thought I was taking a quick rest on the stone steps, admiring the view. As the headed towards me with quizzical looks, I managed to hobble over to the pool, sat down and dunked my legs in the coolish water, hoping for a miracle. But we were in Ibiza, not Lourdes, and the only miracle I was granted was to not be stung by any of the wasps buzzing around me. My daughter and husband hauled me to my deckchair, fetched iced from the bar, and swathed my ankle in a freezing napkin. Minutes later, I was semi-carried down to my room where I lay down on the bed. I couldn’t put my foot down, my ankle was throbbing and my mood darkening. The hotel called a doctor who arrived within an hour and confirmed my thoughts: a torn ligament. Crapalucci.
My right ankle is my weak point. I broke my right leg in two places sledging about twelve years ago, had titanium rods inserted, which were removed when the bones had set. A few years later I managed to miss the two bottom steps of the staircase in my house while carrying the laundry basket, went flying, tore the ligaments in the same ankle, and was on crutches for quite a while. I’ve had trouble with this ankle ever since, and walk like a little old lady whenever I’m on uneven ground.
What bothers me about this injury is that I was being careful on those pretty old stone steps. Of course, what bothers me even more is that I can’t ride for a couple of weeks. I can’t drive, either, which brings me to the lemonade-ish, silver lining-ish side of this mundane tale.
My horse, Qrac, has been stabled over 60 kms from my house for close to two years now. It may not be jaw-droppingly, forehead slappingly far by American terms, but by diminutory Swiss terms it may as well be New York to San Francisco. Ok, so I’m exaggerating, but it’s a very long way; the commute taking close to two hours, round trip. I could have been putting those hours to better use, but it was what it was; I’ve really enjoyed riding there, and have met some wonderful people.
However, I always knew it couldn’t go on forever, and have been on the lookout for a place closer to home for Qrac since day one. There have been plans to improve the stables in my village for years, but the high-end project had been on stand-by for age. I’d put myself on the waiting list yonks ago but it seemed nothing was moving. And then just before we went to Ibiza, my daughter and I drove by and noticed some building, so we pulled in and went to inquire. The new installations were due to be finished by December! There would be a huge indoor school, a walker, a gallop track, huge boxes with terraces, and much, much more! “Can I please have one?” I begged the owner. The response was positive but slightly vague; she told me she’d give me a call in the next few weeks. I fantasized about falling out of bed, rolling over, and climbing onto Qrac. That’s how close this place is. Well, almost.
When I was wheelchaired out of the plane returning from Ibiza my mind was filled with what-to-do about Qrac scenarios. My daughter is here on holiday from university; she’s a lovely rider but hasn’t ridden in three years since we retired her schoolmaster, Kwintus. I can’t afford to have my trainer ride him four or five times a week, and don’t want multiple people riding him. I didn’t know how long I’d be unable to drive or ride, and didn’t want to burden my daughter with the long shlep up to the stables multiple times a week. I considered sending Qrac back to the south of France for training for two months where I spent eleven incredible days in July (see my previous blog, “Massa Magic”), but the idea of not being able to see him for that long bothered me. Besides, what if I felt well enough to ride again in a week or two? My mind whirled, wondering what to do for the best. Maybe it would be best to send him to the south of France for training after all…
And then on Thursday morning, right after my first physio session, I got a text message from the owner of the stables in my village, confirming I had a place for Qrac in my village in December. “I’ll call you at 1.30 to discuss the details,” she said. Yay, I thought! At 1.30, when she called me, we talked about all kinds of things (I’ve known her for ages), including my current ligament problem, and during the conversation I randomly asked whether she might have a space for Qrac before December. And she did. She had one immediately. I told her to give me a day or two to think about it (I was actually waiting to hear whether Massa could take him or not), only to call her back just a couple of hours later to tell her I’d be delighted to bring Qrac to her place the following afternoon if it was ok with her. “Great! See you then”, she replied.
Of course I spent the rest of the day freaking out, second guessing myself, and I didn’t get much sleep that night. Would it have been better to send him down to Massa for training? On one level it would; I know he’d have progressed beyond what I could possibly have accomplished with him had I not been injured. But I wouldn’t see him for weeks…which sounds soppy, but I guess I’m a soppy lady. Also, maybe I really will be able to ride again sooner than I think. And he’d be just around the corner. And the decision had been made, and arrangements made, so best to just breathe into it and go with the flow.
He was also very sweet with my daughter when she rode him in the arena yesterday afternoon and only spooked once when a huge bus rumbled by. Amazing, considering the tricks he’s pulled on me in arenas he’s not familiar with. Maybe he knows I live close-by!
The next few months will be a little more rustic than what my horse and I have been used to in the past few years, but by mid-November, early December the new indoor should be up, and new stables assembled, and we’ll be living in the lap of equestrian luxury again. But the biggest luxury for me is to know that instead of planning my day around my horse, I’ll be able to be far more spontaneous, with time to do other things I’ve wanted to do for ages but have had to sacrifice because of the time it took me to commute. So even though I can’t ride right now, injuring myself has changed a big part of my life for the better.
What sort of life-changing lemons have been thrown at you, equestrianly (hey, new word!) speaking? And did your lemons turn into lemonade?