Doing Things I Never Thought I’d Be Able To: Horseback Riding with Ulcerative Colitis | Part 2

Last updated: March 2021

This is Part 2. Part 1 is here.

As badly as I wanted to go horseback riding, I knew it wouldn't end well. My disease has caused so much trauma and drama in my life, I really didn't want to add this to the list. Excuse after excuse was met with rebuttal after rebuttal until I just gave in. Externally at least. Internally, I was thinking about every possible thing I could do for every possible situation that may occur. Ultimately, in this situation, hours away from the city and traveling deep into the woods, I had nothing.

I had to let myself experience the unknown

Possibly the most difficult part. Living with such a random, painful, uncontrollable disease, the last thing I ever need is more unpredictability. A huge part of me felt defeated. I mean, after all, I was the one who would ultimately be hanging on to these embarrassing memories. I was the one ready to make a complete fool of myself in front of many strangers. I couldn't picture it going any other way than bad.

But with the unexpected came great beauty

Truly, not every story I share here has a happy ending. I don't want to be a cornball, but I will say, there comes a lesson with every experience in life and there is truly power in your perspective. The way you choose to see things will always have a direct impact on your reality. But truthfully, my reality was great. The worst part about it was my lingering fear that my flare would ruin the experience. Even 30 minutes in, I still feared for the next 30. That brought me down a bit. It prevented me from fully living in the moment, but I realize with ulcerative colitis, fully living in the moment is nearly impossible. There's always some portion of your mind stuck on: what if?

If I let ulcerative colitis stop me, I wouldn't have had such an amazing time

Looking back, I am truly grateful that my friend pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I know this won't always be the case, but I'm grateful it was in this particular situation. I've heard that horseback riding is a form of therapy and if that's true, I 100% agree. Riding made me feel unstoppable. It actually took my mind off of a lot of my troubles. Being in the wild, hanging with such beautiful creatures, just breathing the fresh, crisp, October air. It felt like every single thing I didn't realize I needed. None of the medications, doctor visits, hospitalizations, none of it mattered. In those moments I was able to be myself. My free, flared self.

Unfortunately, reality hits even the best of circumstances

I remember thinking about how soon I would come back and almost getting a bit sad. While this particular situation worked out in my favor, the reality was that I was still very unwell. I was still flared. Still using the bathroom at least 20 times a day. Still anxious and still very fatigued. I know the possibility of me coming back was slim, and I was right. I haven't been horseback riding since, but it's something I never imagined doing after my diagnosis, so if that one time is the only memory I will have, I'll treasure it forever.

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