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Doing Things I Never Thought I’d Be Able To: Horseback Riding with Ulcerative Colitis | Part 1

The other day, I was thinking about things I’d done that I never imagined doing once I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Now, I’m doing much better. Since my j-pouch surgeries, but I thought.. what about before them? What about the things I did daily that defeated the odds? What about the things I pushed myself to do at my worst. And I happen to think of one of the most terrifying, yet satisfying at the same time. Something so anxiety-ridden, yet peaceful, I’ve been dying to do it again ever since.

Horseback riding with ulcerative colitis

To a healthy person, this may be one of two things: easy. It may seem small because you, of good health, have no issue with having little to no control. You’ve never faced the hardship of internal inflammation and do not realize what it can do to the body, not only physically, but mentally as well. To another healthy person, it may be scary. Simply because, maybe they don’t like animals. Maybe the don’t like heights. Neither were the major concerns I faced as a young, ulcerative colitis patient.

I was hanging out with a friend and he suggested it. I thought nothing of it at first. He didn’t know everything about me, but he did know I was sick. He knew I’d been hospitalized off and on and he knew what to do in the case of an emergency. I wasn’t totally uncomfortable with him, but the comfort I felt was enough. He was a good buddy and deep down, I wanted to go.

No longer near a bathroom or the ER

As we approached the farm I began to realize just how far out we were. We were in the country. And typically, the country doesn’t come with 24/7 public bathrooms or a nearby emergency room. I tried to keep calm, but I’m pretty sure my anxiety leaked through my pores.

I assumed this horseback riding session would take place in a circle. That’s what I’d seen on TV. Big horses with small humans on top, riding in a circle until the small human was ready to move on to the next activity. I was wrong.

We weren’t riding in a circle. Instead?! We were going down an entire, one hour long, path! When I realized how long the path was, I couldn’t help but to panic. I couldn’t imagine being in the woods, an environment 100% unfamiliar and out of my control, and for an hour?!

To be honest, I did panic. I made up every excuse in the book. Sure, my friend knew what condition I had, but he didn’t know what it did to me. He didn’t know the effect it had on my body and he certainly wouldn’t understand my true reasoning for not wanting to go. Of course, for every excuse I presented, my friend had a solution. Honestly, I wanted to go. I wanted this experience so bad, but just like many of my childhood, I knew ulcerative colitis would ruin it for me, so I’d rather miss out instead.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.