Answer: Very slowly
Question: How long does it take a torn back muscle to heal?
Answer: It depends on if it’s a horsewoman’s back or a normal back. A normal back takes a couple of weeks. A horsewoman’s back, however, will be 10 times worse after two weeks. A horsewoman MIGHT think about slowing down when it becomes crippling, but just until it recedes from crippling to almost crippling when she takes Motrin. At that point, she will clear herself to ride and hoist her dogs into her pick up. Barn chores, of course, are completed at ANY point in the process—even crippled bed-ridden status. After all, horses need to eat and have clean stalls.
We have snow. We have ice. We have cold. We have sunshine. It all started on Valentines Day. Eight inches of snow overnight and cold temperatures to keep it from melting. The extended forecast shows no signs of significant warming.
But I have been able to get out there and do a little riding and a clinic.
The clinic was last Saturday. The roads were so bad that only two participants could make it. I’m very glad I did because I got a training breakthrough.
There was this scary tarp tunnel that we were supposed to ride our horses through. We did it last year, but it freaked me out, and as soon as I saw it this year, I was scared.
What do you do when the RIDER is scared of an obstacle? It happens. It could happen on the trail or at a controlled clinic, but it happens to all of us for different reasons. And, when we are scared or nervous, our highly prescient equine companions are, too. So, it’s going to happen, but what do you do about it?
1st, You listen to your fear. Is there something about the obstacle that’s unsafe or beyond your training level? I looked at the tarp and it seemed well-secured and high enough for horse and rider. It was narrow and low enough, however, that there would be touching and rubbing—which would make noise. All that said, it appeared to be safe for us.
2nd, if it’s safe enough to walk through together, dismount and work from the ground. We did that over and over and over until she could stop inside of it and allow me to shake the tarp around her.
3rd, if everything looks good, mount and ride.
And this is where I had my training moment. In saddle, Leah kept bolting away to the left when we'd turn toward the entrance of the tunnel. My trainer, however, pointed out that I need to keep her facing up. I do try to keep her facing up, but it comes down, again, to finding the right amount of pressure and movement. It can be hard, but it’s the secret sauce of horsemanship. Too little pressure, they don't move--too much pressure, they bolt.
It was a great opportunity to find the balance with Leah.
When we returned to the scary tarp tunnel, stopping in front of the tunnel did not cause her as much anxiety. We were able to stay in front of it and get her to look at it. When she'd move to the right or left, I corrected her, but I didn't urge her forward very hard. I would let her rest and then lightly put pressure on her to go in.
Towards the end, she rushed out.
She calmed down in a couple of steps. We practiced it many more times and worked on control.
Since Saturday, we've been working on the concept at home, and I want to differentiate this with the idea that you should put the horses nose on every scary object. That is not what this is about. It’s about being OK standing still in front of an obstacle.
We will get to places on the trail where we have to stop and inspect to see if it’s OK to go there. That will require stopping. Also, sometimes our trail partners have to stop or we have to just wait for them to do something. A trail horse has to be OK with stopping and standing, then proceeding step by step.
I tore the muscle in my back when I was swinging a saddle up onto Leah. After months of bareback, I think my saddle throwing muscles had atrophied. I could feel the tear as soon as it happened, but it didn't hurt very bad. So, I kept doing what I do--taking care of the horses, moving furniture, cleaning house, just everything. And then, last Friday, I could barely stand straight. Oddly enough, the next day, Saturday, I limped myself to the clinic and it didn't hurt at all to ride a horse. It only hurts to lift objects and to stand from a sitting position or vice versa.
I was seeing progress yesterday, so I decided to take my dog to the vet alone. I had to load all 77 pounds of her and then unload her. Needless to say, my back hurts like hell today.
But it didn't stop me from this morning's chores, and it won't stop me from today's training. I can rest when I get to Hawaii in a couple of weeks.
And yes, I will be looking for a lighter saddle this year. The one I have now is an awesome, solid, well made, beautiful saddle that I love--but my back just can't take it anymore.