Running my First Ride

Today I finally ran my first ride as President of the Horse Riding Society. I’ll be honest I’ve been dreading this day, I’ve really struggled with the idea of running the society since my accident. I just kept thinking, how was I going to enjoy something that I couldn’t do any more? Was I going to feel as down as I did at Fresher’s Fayre? I’ve been stressed, upset and just not feeling ok about it all. So I decided that I’d have one attempt at running the society, if I hated it then I’d consider resigning.

I was pleasantly surprised, the riders all enjoyed themselves and it actually felt good to be around the horses again. I got to see Jemima, the horse I learnt on and Dublin the last horse I rode on. Laura told me that it was worth seeing people enjoy their rides and it is, it also helped to talk to the riders and staff. I’ve felt a little like I’m stupid or something because I get so down but they all completely understood. Jules, the lady who works there was really kind to me, she said if I wanted to go back when I was fully healed and that I could go back then to take my time, that it’s a huge thing to happen not to mention to impact on my body.
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Me last year during my first ride

I’m definitely going to stay as President, it also helps that I have my amazing dream team with me, the three of us got through the session with success and I finally feel hopeful about this part of my life again, after all who doesn’t love cuddling up to some lovely horses…especially when they cuddle back 🙂

I survived second year! – 10 best bits

I did it! I’ve reached the end of the second year of my blog and second year of university. As of tomorrow it will be September again and I’ll be heading back to uni at the end of the month to take on my third year!

This year has been pretty special I’ve learnt a lot and changed a lot. I’ve lived with Ali for over a year now, I was finally allowed to join full field English Literature, made more friends than I thought I possibly would, made a good dent in my mental health recovery, been generally happier, played a load of shows with the boys, took up a sport for the first time since I was 9, won a KU Talent Award, got another job that I love, travelled for uni and broken a part of my back. If that isn’t a crazy year I don’t know what is. I’ve absolutely loved second year. I’m not going to say there weren’t point when I really struggled, because I did but the difference is that I had more people to support me through this year than I have in a long time.

I could write so much about every aspect of second year because it’s been one of the greatest, no matter how it ended. I’ve made new friends and stayed in touch with some others and the thought that I’m going into my last year of undergrad is scary! So for you all tonight I’ve put 10 of my best bits of second year and I’ll remember it with warm memories for the rest of my life.

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  1. I finally got my two little adorables this year, Noodle and Hamski. Even if they have had to be separated now I’m so in love with both of them ❤

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2. No People Club played a lot this year. We spent a lot of our weekends loading up my little car and driving to shows in London, Kingston, Basingstoke and Portsmouth. I’m gutted we had to take a break while my spine healed but we’ve got more stuff planned for the next year and it’s going to be awesome. We also have our awesome fan and sticker guy, one of my best friends Joe, who’s stuck around too.

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3. My second tattoo finally happened! When I found out I wouldn’t be going to Foo Fighters because they’d sold out of disabled tickets I was heartbroken so I got this tattoo instead. I’ve been very up and down this year and not as stable as I’d like but I’m assured that most people would have lows after a big break and spinal brace let alone someone with depression.

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4. I got to go to Athens. I was so, so thankful to be given the opportunity to go to Athens and not have to pay the Creative Writing course fee. Although I was supposed to be going on my own initially, Ali got to come with me because I was still using my wheelchair and not able to move as much. A fab first holiday and it got my creative brain going!

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5. I got my KU Talent award for Overcoming Adversity to Achieve, awarded to be by Sir Trevor McDonald who I actually had a great conversation with while we were sitting at the same table. I’m still gobsmacked I won as there were so many amazing people. I’m so proud that I now work for KU Talent and will get to attend this years awards too!

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6. I started Horse Riding! In October I had my first ride and I was hooked. I had a great 6 months before my fall, including meeting this cutie who really stole my heart. Even though I still have a long way to go in terms of recovery and I don’t know if I’ll go back to riding, but I’ve been voted to run the society this year so I’ll be around the horses anyway. I also made an amazing friend in Laura, who’s been with me every step of the way.

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7. I gave a speech about living with mental health for the university’s diversity conference. It was a great way to connect with people and share my experience and if you want to watch you can click here to watch.

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8. I finished second year with a 66% average, a 2:1. I’m slightly bummed out that I dropped a few percent from last year but I surprised myself with some assignments. It’s made me even more determined to get what I need to get a first this year.

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9. I had some absolutely amazing friends by my side through everything. Here’s a picture of me and the girls as Alissa’s birthday meal, my first outing in my wheelchair which they managed to make fun!

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10. I got to live with a boy, and I still kind of like him.

Oh and a sneaky 11, I’m still working and awesome job and I’ve got another one, always fun!

10 things I’ve learnt in the last month

Yesterday was 1 month since I fell off Rose, I couldn’t believe how quickly one month had gone. Although I still have a month until my next spine appointment, I will have hopefully made some more improvements. Where am I at the moment? I’m still taking very strong painkillers and have trouble getting up but I can walk that little bit further than before. I was quite poorly yesterday night (hence no blog) but I wanted to use today’s to think about some of the things I’ve learnt this month while I’ve been resting. Enjoy 🙂

1. Fear of falling is never a good thing

When I fell from Rose, I wasn’t scared. I knew that I had to just let go, it was only a fall. Ok, yes I ended up with much more than just an initial bruise BUT I want to get that feeling back. I want to get that feeling where I’m not scared of falling because I can’t just go around scared whenever I ride. I kind of want to apply it to other areas of my life too. I’m a total perfectionist, I’m absolutely terrified of failing, especially academically. So maybe I can relax a little? Just enough so I’m not a huge ball of stress all through third year.

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I will get back to being this fearless on a horse! 

2. How lucky I am

I am walking. I am not permanently in a wheelchair and I’m so grateful. The lack of finding the fractures meant I went back to my normal life, I could have very easily ended up paralysed. I’ve been cared for by the people who matter and I’m still getting there but it looks like I’m going to recover from this, for that I am so,so lucky.

3. I want to be financially secure so I can afford private healthcare once I’ve graduated

I don’t want the NHS to be privatised because for most of my life it’s been there and I’m glad we can rely on a National System. That said, I wasn’t treated well with this serious injury, I’ve had to wait and push and be in extreme pain for appointments and I still don’t have my back brace never mind that the fractures were missed. It’s one of my goals in life to have private healthcare because I know I will be treated with the best possible care, it’s sad but true.

4. I have lots of wonderful people around me 

My family is incredible and so are my friends. I’ve had this outpouring of love from all of my friends and family. Cards have been sent, I’ve been accompanied to hospital, Ali’d had to help me move, I’ve been pushed in my wheelchair and made to smile about it, comments,presents and messages. I feel so loved and appreciated everything so, so much.

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5. Sometimes it’s ok that things don’t go to plan 

As you all know I was meant to go to Prague with Eleanor and Dani this month. I’d been counting down for so long and I couldn’t go. I was devastated to say the least and I cried, a lot. The thing is although I didn’t get to go to Prague, I got invited to the Society Awards instead and saw my society win an award, as well as another one of my best friends win an award. Am I still sad that I missed out on time with El and Dani? Of course I am but at least I still got to smile with two of my other best friends.

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6. You can always embarrass yourself in front of your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together 

Ali and I have been together for seven years and yet I still find ways to embarrass myself. I’ve been taking showers as I can stand up in the warm water, it helps the pain. I decided my legs NEEDED shaving so I sat down in the bath…then realised I was stuck. Ali then had to come and lift me out of the bath, it was a beautiful moment. I was so embarrassed, love huh?

7. There are other ways to let out pain and frustration 

In the past when I was in the darkest parts of depression I didn’t know how to let my pain and frustration out in a positive way, now it’s a lot better. I write a lot or I draw sometimes. There are so many things that you can do to let it all out, I’ll be writing a post in the future about it.

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8. Friends are priceless

I couldn’t have kept my spirits up the way I have without my friends, they’ve been incredible. They’ve visited or messaged me and kept my spirits up with I’ve been very low and they haven’t gotten frustrated when it takes me so long to walk anywhere.Thank you to all of you, I love you so much.

9. A lot needs to be done for people who are permanently in wheelchairs 

I’ve gone out in my wheelchair twice and I’ve noticed this. While the majority of people have been nice and helpful I’ve been moaned at my people in cars for not being off the road the second the light turns green for them, I’ve been sighed at when someone needs to change their path because of my wheelchair and I’ve been walked in front of. This is where angry Chloe happens who doesn’t give a monkeys, I usually shout after them. It’s been so hard getting about in the wheelchair, to get up the pavement is a major issue, getting into shops, getting around in general! More needs to be done for people in wheelchairs to make their lives easier!

10. Pain doesn’t mean the end of happiness 

I’ve been pretty low through all this but I’ve still managed happiness. I can stil laugh with my friends and I’ve adapted things. I’m not saying I don’t get upset, frustrated and angry, but I can still achieve happiness even if it’s harder.

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Still smiling 

Back in the saddle

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Three days after my fall and I decided I needed to be back around the horses. Crazy? Nah, it’s just what horse riders do. For most after any injury, big or small, one of the first questions is ‘when can I ride again?’. Although I spend a lot of yesterday waddling around and I’m pretty sure I’m paying for going out today I’m pleased I did. There is nothing like getting on a horse.

I’m not going to lie and say I was completely fine and dandy climbing on while I was still in a fair bit of pain but I needed to get back on to prove to myself. Rose was an angel again today, lots of cuddles and happy ears. For a while I was just sitting and watching while Laura (who is doing THE most amazing job with Rose) started jumping Rose, who’s coming on so much at the moment. After almost every jump Rose would be satisfied by her pat by Laura and then walk over to me for more fuss.

Then I got on. She’d been so good, I had a back protector to borrow, I can’t put it into words this driving force to get on and prove to myself. So I was back on, on a lead rope at first while I relaxed and felt comfortable again, then a walk and small trot. Then I came off the lead rope thinking oh god, this is where I might fall again if she gets excited…except she wouldn’t move. Maybe she could tell I was ok just as we were. I’m feeling better now, and proud of myself for getting back on. Hopefully back to regular lessons soon will get rid of any doubt and remind me of the last 6 months of, you know, not falling off.

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Back on!!! 

I have to say being around animals again has really been crushing my lows and it’s making me so excited. I don’t know its something about animals that keep me calm or are able to cheer me up when I’m feeling down 🙂

A bit of a tumble

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The plan for yesterday was meeting Daniela for a Starbucks in the morning, go for a ride with Laura, come home and relax while playing with the hamsters…things ended up a little differently than I’d planned.

I loved getting back to riding and finally getting on Rose. She’s only 5 and still quite a baby but she seemed to listen and be an absolute angel. Walking and trotting I was more than happy and so was she, that was until I started to lose my balance. I managed to pull myself up the first time and try and get her to calm down but she could sense I was panicked so continued to run and I had no option than to let myself fall.

The only way I can explain the fall to someone who’s never fallen off a horse before is that it’s slow motion until you’re heading for the floor and it’s like you’re watching a go pro camera. It did hurt, I won’t lie. It’s more likely than not that because I went into shock my body seized up once I’d hit the ground  and I’m pretty sure I winded myself too. After a bit of wriggling around on the floor and being in a lot of pain, I got myself up. I was in a lot of pain but didn’t want to seem like a drama queen so I managed to get up and walk to a chair while everyone at the yard was being so lovely.

Plus points were I’d stayed conscious, I could walk and move my neck. It was only because I was in a lot of pain we called 111 who sent a paramedic..then an ambulance where I got immobilized and loaded up into an ambulance….I was so embarrassed it was unreal. Laura was an absolute angel, holding my hand and not judging when I cried because they were talking about needles and thought I was going to be sick after laying down in the ambulance and feeling panicked by the bead blocks (super uncomfortable, especially when your hairband is digging in).

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Laughing with embarrassment while I was being loaded in, I tried to bargain with them but they said they needed to strap me up! 

I’ve gone 6 months without a fall, so of course my first one had to be done with style. After X Rays and some strong pain medication they decided I was fine just bruised and sore. They’d taken us all the way to Epsom and St Helens University hospital, luckily Laura’s house mate agreed to pick us up to get us back to pick up our stuff. Then something amazing happened, while Laura was gathering the stuff from the stable I went to the field to try and find Rose (who came to check I was ok after I fell off, being the beauty that she is), typically she was nowhere to be found. Instead two other horses came to the gate and it was like they knew, they knew I was shaken but their love and affection cheered me up so much that if I hadn’t been all achy and bruised I would have gotten on there and then.

I’m in a fair bit of pain today but I’m being well looked after and I’m on the mend, plus I have really adorable company 🙂

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Lookin’ good

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I’ve been horse riding for 5 months now, every week that I possibly could. I think it’s gotten to a point that riding has become a part of me, which amuses my friends to no end. Something interesting happened tonight, one of my bosses and one of my lecturers commented on how well I look in myself this year and I’d like to think that horse riding has been a big part of that.

Now I’m not going to use this post to become a fitness bunny. You’re still more likely to find me curled up with a cup of tea rather than going for a jog. I still hate running with a passion, and my knees aren’t keen on it either. This year though, as well as being happier in general, I’ve started to actually try some fitness. I ride every Wednesday and I’m currently swimming as many Sundays as possible, in the summer the Wednesdays I can’t ride I’m hoping to swim instead.

I’m not doing this for the way I look, it’s crossed my mind occasionally but that’s usually after I look in the mirror and notice I’m a little bit more toned than I used to be. It’s strange for me to find excercise I love, at school it was my worst nightmare unless we were doing flips and things in the gym. Now I can’t wait to get that release from riding or swimming, although I remember wanting to bite anyone who said exercise will help depression, it will but you have to be well enough to get to that stage first.

Riding and swimming have become a huge part of my life now and they make me feel good about myself. I’m not a size 6, I don’t want to be. I’m not doing this to get rid of my curves or look like an Olympian that doesn’t even come to it, I just want to feel good.

Right now, however, I am aching from the most intense ride ever. I’m finally off the lunge and riding on my own! I think I’m going to go off and crawl into my bed!

Relaxing with Rubey.

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I know for a fact that I’ve worked really hard this week, possibly a little at the extent of my health but I don’t regret it. After practicing 3 evenings, working one, going to uni, playing an AMAZING gig in central London and finally getting back all the sleep I missed yesterday, I wanted to do something today. Funnily enough my idea of relaxation had four legs and is almost double my height.

It’s no secret that since starting riding in October I’ve fallen in love with it, as well as the horses at the stable. For me it’s just a way of letting off steam, focusing on something else and learning. As soon as I walk in the stables I feel myself relax, no matter if I’m on a low mood or just having a stressful day. I’ve become one of those people I never used to understand!

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Getting kisses from Rubey 

I’ve been talking with Rubey’s owner since just before christmas, when I left her a note to say that her horse was lovely and I’d gladly help out. I finally got around to it today, realising that I needed to do something that relaxed me, even if it was hard work. Sapphire (Rubey’s owner) is a total sweetheart and really helpful, we spent today giving the horses hay, sweeping the yard and giving Rubey a groom which was the fun I needed to just relax.

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Although I didn’t ride today, helping out and hanging around the stables gave me an even bigger mood boost than waking up happy this morning did. I also realised I’m more confident, I’m starting to work out which horses do what, who I like to ride etc. I’m also lucky enough to be able to help out with a horse I adore and it seems she likes me back after some of the cuddles I got today. So once I’m a confident enough rider I can help out more and actually exercise her.

Hopefully this is a sign of a good week to come 🙂

Giddy Up! My first time horse riding!

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I’ve never mentioned wanting to go horse riding prior to second year, to be honest I never thought it would be something I could do. So at freshers I signed up with Amy and later Dani. I didn’t hear much after submitting my paper work but suddenly rides became available and they were being snapped up really quickly! I thought about it for all of five minutes and booked my first ride, not nervous it was two weeks away, right?

Flash forward to today when my anxiety raised its ugly head, I went from being nervous to absolutely bloody terrified. How on earth was I going to do this? Horses were absolutely huge, what if I fell off? What if I made a complete idiot of myself or made no friends. I got so nervous and anxious I was nearly in tears but it was the social aspect more than anything else, then the horse. Ali made me calm down, If you don’t like it you don’t have to go back. I got the bus and hoped more than anything I wouldn’t fall off.

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Can you tell how terrified I really was?

The staff were all lovely but seeing the horses and I started to panic a little, how was I going to get on one! So I watched someone else ride for a little bit and Amy being the lovely thing she is waited to watch me. Now Amy, unlike my friend Amy from last year is so, so tall. Apparently her ride earlier in the day was in a huge horse, I thought mine was but apparently she was tiny. My horse, Jemima, was lovely, very beautiful and incredibly well behaved. According to my instructor Kate she’s a horse that calms down nervous people.

Getting on I mouthed ‘fuck’ to Amy (I’d nearly bolted myself earlier being so nervous), it took quite a long time to sort out my stirrups because I have such little legs, but at least I wasn’t put on a tiny pony which was another worry I had. I was really awkward and nervous at first but my instructor knew what to do and calmed me down, I relaxed and Jemima had me at ease. By the end of the lesson I could make her walk, trot, slow down and stop, plus I managed to get the rhythm fairly quickly too (being a musician is good for horse riding apparently).

Will I be going again? Definitely. I feel like it’s going to be hard work but I enjoy it, it’s something new and I’m loving that I’m part of a big group. The people I’ve met from society are all absolutely lovely, I have a social next week and we might all be getting jumpers! I’m part of a group that is actually a sport!

Today was followed by meeting Joe and now I’ve been invited on a night out even though I’m aching from horse riding…hmmmm do I or don’t I?

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