I honestly didn’t think that 2014 could get much better!
The last few weeks have made my very exciting year extra special in so many ways. There are some feelings that you just don’t know how to describe to people, to make them actually realise what a certain day or achievement means to you. However, I think the smile imprinted on my face has certainly summed up the last few weeks.
Christmas and New Year have passed by in a flash, and I wanted to savour every moment of feeling well, unlike the last couple of years.
Just being together as a family and feeling myself was incredible, and I’m sure it was a relief for everyone around me.
Anyway, I made it through without any hospital admissions, which was a great success. Even Sophie (my brother’s fiancé) managed to hold the imminent arrival of her baby in! This made the festivities all the more special. I could join in on the beverages, eating and the amazing games of Christmas charades. I think my cousin Harriet was definitely the master at it, especially her E.T. impression.
The New Year marked a year of progress and achievements beyond my wildest dreams. However, I would be lying if I said this had all come without a complete roller coaster of emotions, pain, and hard work.
Everyone has been so understanding and just made everything possible, no matter what — I am so grateful to everyone for this.
There may have been moments when I thought this day would never happen, but deep down I always knew and believed I could do it. The feeling of pure happiness will honestly stay with me for the rest of my life. It made everything I’ve pushed through worth it.
The night before my first competition since my accident (July 2012) I had all my kit ready to go. Long boots clean, jacket, breeches — I don’t think I ever used to be that organised when I was eventing! Let’s see if I keep it up.
I couldn’t sleep at all the night before the competition — I was so over-excited, as I expected!
I then didn’t have the best start to the day, due to the fact it was so cold. Therefore my spasms were 10 times worse, and before I had even got my long boots on, my leg was kicking the car as I was sat down. This meant that the first mission of the day was to catch my foot to get it in my long boot. Probably quite entertaining for those watching, but very annoying for me!
I was very lucky to have Pammy (Hutton) warm me up for both tests, and keep me as contained as possible. As soon as Pammy walked over, she said ‘breathe’ followed by ‘it’s been a long time since you’ve worn that jacket’. I think my smile crept even wider across my face at this point. It was actually happening — I wasn’t in a dream!
My first test was a great success until about three-quarters of the way through, when my leg went into quite a strong extensor spasm pattern. I managed to continue through it and it only really affected my final centre line, as I didn’t have my left leg on her side at all. This meant that she drifted to the left. I ended up with a percentage of 71.04%, which I was chuffed with.
It took a while to settle my spasms down for my second test, but when I had warmed up I felt great and my spasms were much better. I literally beamed throughout — I think the judge must have thought I was deranged! I gave Amo a massive hug at the end (pictured top) and wow, what an amazing day, which meant so much to me.
I ended up getting 67.5% in the elementary test. I came 2nd in the novice and 1st in the elementary (however the two tests were in a combined class which meant I was 2nd and 5th overall). I was over the moon.
I went to get off Amo having been on her for a while and I found myself with neither of my legs working. I think this was partly because I was tired and full of adrenaline. I was very lucky I had my crutches!
The team of supporters that arrived made the day even more special to share it with — I was actually quite emotional seeing everyone turn up to watch.
Ok, so this is going to sound a little bit strange, but I genuinely didn’t know what to do with myself when I got home from the competition. So much so that I couldn’t eat, sit still, sleep, shower, or think straight. I was on cloud nine and felt completely elated.
The day after
After having such an exciting day, the day after I was in a bit of a daze. I needed my head to be screwed back on! I certainly didn’t make life easy for my tired body.
Work was absolutely fine. It was from 5pm onwards that my day started to fall apart. I went shopping in Tesco’s (always a mission for me) and managed to knock various contents off the shelves with my crutches, causing carnage.
Then onto the petrol station. I was firstly thrown by the fact that I could only ‘pay at the pump,’ so in the process of trying to have about four hands to do everything, my crutches hit the floor. The worst bit was still to come.
As I was flustered I left my wallet on the roof of my car and drove off. I did luckily remember before I got home and drove back towards the fuel station to see it lying in the middle of the road, just off the roundabout. I pulled over into a side street and crutched into the road to retrieve my wallet. I definitely got some concerned looks!
A couple of weeks ago I was hugely privileged to have my lesson with Pammy alongside Paralympic gold medallist Anne Dunham (pictured right).
She was a true inspiration, and made everything look so smooth, the horse went beautifully. It was seriously impressive to watch. It certainly encouraged me to take my riding to the next level.
Anne is someone that will never let anything stand in her way, despite her disability, and that in my mind exactly the way it should be. She gave me some great tips from the top.
Some interesting exercises
The combination of Oaksey House and The Cadbury House gym are working extremely well together.
Quite often I will have learnt some new exercises at Oaksey with Cat or Nadia and then I can take them back to Sam Iles and work on them at Cadbury. Sam has also come up with some fantastic new exercises recently, which I really feel are helping my overall strength.
My recent exercises at Oaksey have involved a trampoline and a bit of climbing. Not combined, don’t worry!
On the trampoline I have been bouncing on my knees, then when Cat says stop I have to control my core and my spasms and stop the bouncing straight away. We also did this with a weighted ball in my hand and I had it above my head and had to move my upper body from side to side, whist still bouncing. It’s quite hard work, but a great exercise.
The other ingenious exercise that Cat has been getting me to do is climbing up a frame on the side of the wall in the gym. This is to get more weight over onto my left leg, control my spasms and focus on my overall body alignment (I will try and get a photo to explain it for my next blog!).
What will 2015 bring? More competitions, becoming an Auntie, bridesmaid at my brother’s wedding and much more!
I leave you with a quote from Josiah Nicotra : ‘Limitation is simply a perspective of mind.’