I guess about a month ago, I was trotting large in the ride and I realised that my foot was… okay.

Not perfect, but seriously better. I had forgotten about the foot until that moment. I had begun once again blithely hopping up into the saddle. All the things that I had taken for granted, and then did not, had once again gone beyond conscious thought. Muscle memory kicked back in, and it was as if I had never had to mount from the right, or from the wall.

[Okay, there was that Tuesday when I tried to get up on Rebel, and he walked off, and even a tug on the reins didn’t stop him and I fell off. And then immediately after that fall, I fell again because he had started to trot towards the open arena doors. I actually said, ‘Help.’ So, okay, not 100% strong and fit.]

^ But still. This time last year I had joined the Saturday lesson and had promptly fell on my head, trying to jump Delilah. I felt the impatience of instructors who couldn’t believe that I couldn’t do everything I’d been doing up until that point. I was stubborn, both in my insistence to ride, and in my insistence that I do anything that was going to fuck me up all over again. I was conscious of my achilles every morning when I woke up and checked in with the injury, and when I missed a lesson here or there, I was annoyed but also a little relieved. Another hour on the couch will surely — surely — result in another hour of healing…

And then the day came when I was halfway through a lesson and hadn’t thought of my foot until we’d stopped after 30 minutes of warm up. That felt amazing.

As far as muscle memory goes, it works the other way, too: My foot keeps slipping up so that the edge of my heel catches the iron. This is how I got through last summer, and apparently the foot remembers.

Perhaps the foot will never forget?

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