I let the date slip by without noticing - I suppose that's a good sign. Those of you who've been following this blog for a while will remember that on June 11, 2011, I had a very serious fall off Pie while we were riding on the trail - three broken bones (two ribs and a collar bone) and a serious head injury (which would have been much worse or even fatal if I hadn't been wearing a helmet) that kept me in the ICU for a number of days and caused my heart to stop twice. (I now have a pacemaker that I probably don't need - it is likely that the cardiac problems were due to the head injury.)
I don't know why I came off - I can't remember - but something apparently spooked Pie badly and I didn't stay on, landing on the hard gravel/limestone path - about like concrete. My recovery was slow - it took quite a while before my balance, vision and strength were back to normal, and the nausea and headaches lasted for a while. My short term memory was completely gone while I was in the hospital - I was about like someone with Alzheimer's - but that's improved although I'd say I've lost a fair number of IQ points and some things in my past I just don't remember any more. I couldn't drive or watch a movie for quite a while. The first time I went out of the house after getting out of the hospital, I fell down the front steps from the porch - that's how poor my strength and balance were. The broken bones healed well, although I don't recommend severe nausea with throwing up when you have two broken ribs - the pain is amazing. Before this fall, although I'd had several concussions before, including a couple of serious ones, I'd never broken a bone, but I was in my late 50s (I'm now over 60) and the ground was very hard.
The good news is that I'm now a much more capable rider than I was then - I had to do that in order to step up and be the rider my horses needed me to be. I worked with a very capable trainer (Heather Burke of Black Star Farms in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, who's a student of Mark Rashid's), and she helped me improve enormously and helped Pie and Red to work through some things as well.
But in the back of my mind, there's still some fear lurking - I no longer have that stomach-clenching jolt when a horse spooks or is worried, but I'm more cautious than I was. Riding on the trail is particularly problematic for me - that's where I was hurt and you don't forget that sort of thing, and Pie can still be wary and spooky at times. And right now Pie - my main trail horse - Red isn't ready for prime time yet although I think he's got the ability to develop into a fine trail horse - is in lock down due to Red's confinement after his surgery - Pie is Red's "baby sitter".
Who knows where we'll get to, but I'm not going to beat myself up about what I'm willing to do or not do with my horses. Whatever we do is good, and I'm still riding, a lot, and I hope getting better as a rider a small bit at a time. I'll never have that devil-may-care confidence that I had when I was young, but perhaps at my age, that isn't a bad thing . . .