This morning as I was cooling down the Potato from a great ride, it occurred to me how much pain I was in. It was 74 degrees today, at the end of October, in NJ. My Timehop tells me that in the last 8 years I’ve gone from complaining about how cold I am at this time of year, to days like today where I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt like an idiot and my horse is literally dripping sweat because he has a full winter coat but it’s still summer. Anyway, while cooling down and feeling so bad for my poor wooly mammoth of a pony, it also struck me how much pain I was in from head to toe, and wondering why my body betrays me so badly when I’m doing the one thing in the world that keeps me sane.
I suffer from a lovely myriad of issues which make riding difficult for me. Add that to the fact that my job as a Veterinary Technician is VERY physical and could be classified as a contact sport and frankly, I’m just always in pain. There are days where I have had to choose between riding and not riding because of something else important that I know I have no choice but to do later that day, or because I know that I need to be able to get through a 13 hour work day without a break the following day and riding will set me back 24 hours in bed. Knowing that riding can bring on a lot of my pain and fatigue issues means that I have to be prepared to NOT ride on a day where my presence is necessary elsewhere.
I deal with tension headaches and migraines quite frequently. There are lots of situations in which I can be pretty sure that I’m going to bring on a headache of some sort, but the most common culprit is wearing my helmet for an extended period of time, usually in the summer. I have two different helmets for this reason. My lighter Troxel for schooling and my Charles Owen for shows. Still, even with migraine meds, choosing the right helmet, proper hydration, planning to ride for the cooler parts of the day in the summer, and ending my ride when I can feel my brain starting to pulse out of my ears, sometimes I can’t stop it from happening and it will shut me down for at least another full day, if not two.
I also have a tendency to become Hypoglycemic. It’s a running joke that I become SUPER hangry when I haven’t eaten frequently enough during the day. Even while making a joke out of it, though, my friends still have a tendency to pack extra snacks in case they notice I’m starting to become snippy and homicidal. On the bright side this is pretty easily resolved with a coconut water, a bag of chips, and some chocolate.
I won’t continue on and on with all of my issues, but I am curious what kind of problems other riders deal with out there and how they remedy or handle them. Pain, fatigue, mental health, illnesses, fears, anything that makes it just a little bit harder for you, I’d like to hear how everyone does it. Because ultimately we all know that at the end of the day, we wouldn’t ride through these things if it wasn’t worth it. And maybe, just maybe, if we all share our secrets to making it through every day, we could help each other in ways we never thought possible.