Friday, October 3, 2008

Cautious Riding

Seven years ago exactly I found a melanoma growth on my back, left leg. I was only 34 years old, so I was surprized and really disappointed in my "loser" body--giving it up to cancer so early.

Not that I'd been a poster-child for healthy living. I had tanned in tanning beds a little when I was in college, I had an occasional cigar (sometimes too many, I'm sure), and, at the time I came down with it, I'd let myself get pretty depressed about life.

Looking back, I think hopelesness or depression had more to do with it than anything.

But needless to say, when I came so close to NOT finding that darn mole--or not believing it truly was cancer until forced to a doctor visit, I decided if I was going to die I'd rather do it on horseback than waiting around for some stupid freckle to do me in.

During those years it was like a return to my teen years when I KNEW I was invincible and dared life to disprove it. I took risks on horseback that I would not have normally--ponying my colts through ravines and creeks--up and down hills--anytime I had that voice of caution talking to me, I tried not to listen to it. It was like I was running from what I considered a "bad" death--a quick death by horse seemed like a good one.

But as the years went by and there was no recurrence of the melanoma, I started to think I didn't want to die at all--on horseback or of cancer. So, I got more and more cautious.

Today I'm solidly a cautious rider. I never take risks I don't understand beforehand. I scout out trails before I take my horses on them, and I never ride a trail with my horse that I would not walk myself. I worry just as much about injuring them by a stupid decision as I do about injuring myself from one.

And, I don't mind being in this place--this safe place. I enjoy riding my horses more than ever--I don't let caution keep me from getting out there and being with them every day. I actually feel like I'm a better rider because of it. I feel like I'm a better handler on the ground because I look and listen all the time.

I respect the power and nature of the horse.


  1. Hopelessness has a way of destroying us physically, spiritually, and mentally. I'm so glad you came out of that dark period of time, safe and sound.

  2. I had melanoma on my left arm several years ago. I decided to fight back. I joined CURVES, lost 28 pounds, started walking, and soon adopted my first horse, Sunni. I've been cancer-free now for 6 years. Fortunately, my own doctor was able to cut it out, but I still had to go in for the "deep cut". It had NOT spread and now I slather on the sunscreen! It is good to be alive and enjoy my horses.

  3. Cheryl--your case sounds a bit like mine, but mine was on the leg rather than arm. I was working out at Curves already when it happened. LOL. I worked out there for many years and really loved it. For me, and it sounds like for you, too, some big life changes to put my life in track with my heart made the difference. Horses have been a big part of it.

  4. Yes, my horses have definitely changed my life! I had afternoons when I would go see Sunni, when I just had him, and cry in his mane. I was THAT frustrated by my job!!! Now, I visit them and enjoy them and they just make me feel SOOOOoooooo much better! I can't wait for this back thing to GO AWAY (I have a pinched nerve and a numb leg!)


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.