My Side Road Is Leading Me on New Adventures

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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So after last week’s frustration, this week was about refocusing and figuring out what my “side road” would look like. I don’t respond well to the feeling that my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is keeping me from doing something that I want to do. If I hit a roadblock, my next step is to find a way around it.

To reduce my frustration, I tried to identify tangible things I could do to get around the feeling that my EDS was holding me back. While having to do extra work to achieve the same results as “normal” people used to discourage me, now I’m like, Move over, people. Super-determined, slightly crazy person coming through! I’ve realized that I can let the drawbacks define me, or I can tackle them head-on like a challenge. Did I mention that I like challenges?

First, I decided that I wanted to do more with Pilates. It’s tough for me to get to class once a week — and it gets expensive — so that wasn’t going to work. Also, after a long day at work and my riding and farm chores, a workout is the last thing I want to do when I get home. I found a DVD called “Pilates for Beginners” that has five 10-minute sessions that can be done individually or combined, depending on how much time you have. Bingo! While I don’t have a reformer in my living room, I can do plenty of exercises to help with my stability.

Additional Pilates is beneficial for me, but I was also wondering how I could help Cherry. Like people, horses have physical imperfections that affect their movement. One part of my job as a rider is to help my horse gain strength, improve fitness, and move properly — kind of like a combination of physical therapy and workouts. Some of my frustration last week was due to my feeling that I couldn’t adequately help Cherry. So I decided to try the Decarpentry Method to help her re-establish her natural gait and straightness.

The best way I can describe the method is that it’s like riding a horse from the ground. I ask Cherry to perform specific movements while I’m on the ground beside her, rather than on her back. This way, she can learn how to move correctly without having to support the weight of a rider, and I don’t feel that my issues are hindering her as she learns.

After just over a week of Decarpentry work and no riding, I can already see a difference in Cherry. When I rode her for the first time after the weeklong break, I could tell that she’s stronger and straighter. Thanks to this method, I can deal with the fact that my EDS was, at least in my mind, hindering Cherry. I now have a plan to continually improve my fitness as well. With the two plans in action, I’m well on my way to overcoming this latest EDS roadblock. As upset as I was last week about needing to find an alternative “route,” I’m now thoroughly enjoying this new path.


Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


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