If you have been riding as long as I have you probably have a few moments sketched in your memory where you involuntarily dismounted into the dirt. It may have been a spook, a bad distance, a buck or bolt, or a stop. However you met the dirt, it was not fun and probably in some way put a dent in your confidence. I want to describe my most recent date with the dirt and hopefully my experiences will inspire those that are struggling to remember why we do this and to find that inner passion after the fall.
It was Feb 25, 2017 I had a 9am scheduled lesson. My 17 year old OTTB, who is a saint, was being perfect as usual. His name is Sunday Drive and he lives up to his name.. SLOOOOOW and cool as a cucumber. No big deal for this big 17.1hh softie. It was one of those lessons to where its all going pretty darn good and the trainer says, "lets do it one more time". I gathered my reins, picked up the canter and headed to the first single jump. That went fine, I rounded the corner to the outside 5 stride line. We can in perfect so I sat chilly and let Drive figure out the strides. We jumped out perfect!! We landed, took 3 canter steps (my best guy even landed on the correct lead-no need for a change!) when all of a sudden he tripped, face planted and next thing I knew I was hearing my trainer yelling for help. I was laying there trying to catch my breath sounding like a stuck pig, when I finally caught my breath. (later to find out I broke my rib, hence my squealing sound trying to catch my breath) I open my eyes and my trainer is telling me to breath and to relax and just breath. I then said, "who's standing on my arm?" "no one is standing on your arm Cindy" *insert panic here* OMG my arm!!
Now, I found out later that Drive was laying there completely still and so was I...to this day I shiver at the sight of that and feel for my trainer as she saw horse and rider down and not moving. Disclaimer: Drive was and is 100% OK!!! Other than being probably body sore (I did mention he's 17, right/!) he was fine and I am SO lucky he is ok. That being said, I got a ride to the ER to try and figure out what was wrong with my arm that looked like a ski slope. The xray showed a shatter forearm and wrist - meaning I had to see the surgeon on Monday. So I go to see the surgeon on Monday and he says, "you will have surgery on Wednesday March 1st and I wont know the extent of the damage till I am in there" March 1st comes and I am now the proud owner of a 7inch plate and 16 screws! I am now BIONIC!! I haven't tested the magnet trick yet but I bet you I could get it to stick to my arm.
I used my time "off" to go and watch Drive be ridden as much as I possibly could. I couldn't do much but watch, but I was reminded each and every time that he is SAFE and that this was a freak accident. As time went on, I was able to lift more (did I mention this was my right arm and I am right handed? oh yea, fun!) and help out more at the barn while I watched my guy go. My heart leaped into my throat every time I watched him jump and land- and I am still struggling with that. I have the most amazing support staff at my barn that all chipped in to keep him going and keep me informed on how he was. My doc kept saying, "3 more weeks till you can think of riding"......well, the day before Easter, I decided to hop on. It was like Christmas morning and I was SO excited. I walked, trotted AND cantered and survived. I didn't feel any nerves. I hopped on a few more times and enjoyed each one with very little nerves. I lessoned this past Saturday, May 6th, and trotted and cantered a few poles. I felt good, but had a heart dropping moment when I heard his hoof skid across the pole one time. *GASP!* (we were fine, it was all in my head no one even said a thing about it so clearly it wasn't an issue haha) My trainer set an X for me to jump and she said here we go, you canter this and can be done for the day. Think short stirrup X...the first hole on the waaaaay bottom of the standards...yup, that was my X. But, I cantered down to it, and we cantered over it. (pretty sure he didn't really "jump" seeing how small it was, but hey, it was in jump cups, it counts as a jump, right?) Everyone in the ring cheered, it was a pretty cool moment. I even wore the same breeches as I was wearing the day of the accident to break the curse. I later told my trainer that and she turned white and said "why did you tell me that" hahahah But hey, the curse is broken right? Or is it? This is where I am struggling.....was this a fluke? Was this a freak accident? We all trip, horses trip. But will this ever happen to me again? Will I ever feel confident cantering out of a line again? I honestly don't have any ambition to canter around a course any time soon, but the time will come to where I will have to rip the bandaid off and just do it. I am trying really hard not to over think this while in the tack. I know that this doesn't happen everyday and all I can do is pray to the heavens that nothing like this will happen to me again - or at least the same way with the same outcome. Not only now am I struggling mentally a little, I am battling the medical bills that just seen to come 5 at a time every day. My folder of bills is about 2 stories tall. All I can do is tackle them a little at a time-but man, its a constant reminder of what "happened". There goes any plan for showing this summer. *bummer*
How is my arm you ask? Well, it's doing pretty good. The scar is long and pretty badass. I am stuck in a handshake position and my wrist wont rotate any further. I am hoping in time that will come. I am staying positive with that. I can do most things that I wasn't able to do such as put a pony tail in, button my pants, and tighten a girth! I struggle with turning a door knob (due to the lack of rotation to the right) and accepting change from a cashier. (force of habit is to stick my right hand out and it all falls because my hand is not level)
So, I am looking for some words of wisdom to whom out there has been through a riding incident and it left them feeling a little inadequate- or come on, completely freaked out. I want to hear how you got through it. What was your go to method to push through? Or did you just get a year supply or red wine to supplement the worry? ha ha!
What am I without horses? Horses are my zen..my peace..my inner most pleasure. I have to remind myself that maybe this accident was a little moment to force me to slow down and enjoy life a little more. Enjoy my horses in a different way while I heal. Observe the horses in motion and understand they are animals and things happen..right?
Thank you for reading this if you even got this far. It felt good to get this all out as I am struggling with all this in my brain. I tend to be long winded, so I apologize but I hope at some point in here you smiled or maybe even shook your head in agreement remembering a similar thought process.
your fellow bionic rockstar..