Friday, June 13, 2014

An Anniversary Not Fondly Remembered

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 . . .


  1. Your experience and Betty's has been very similar. Fortunately, she didn't have a head injury, but the burst vertebra, broken leg and fractured sacrum were plenty bad. She's been very courageous about continuing to ride, but, like you, we're wary of doing too much riding outside of our back arena.

  2. I think even without a serious accident we get more cautious as we age; I know I have. We don't bounce like we used to; bones may break more easily. I am so thankful for my steady-eddy Lance; he's the perfect middle-age project!

  3. It shows maturity and smarts to take it easier as we age -- and to only do what we are comfortable doing. When I was younger, I would have loved the challenge of Winston. But not anymore. Like you said, that ground is hard -- and we don't heal like we used to. I remember when you came off of Pie - I can't believe that much time has passed.

  4. Kate... You have more staying power and discipline than anyone I know. You study and you work very hard with those three beautiful horses. Kudos. I'm glad that you came through your accident so well.

  5. So funny. My fear is in the arena because that's where I've been hurt! The trail is where I can relax.

    Because I started so late in life, I don't know that I'll ever have that seat that comes from riding from birth, but at the same time, I know that life is (relatively) short and living it is the most important thing.

    Good for you for getting back on and finding ways to be a better rider. That's courage, Kate. :)

    You ROCK!! :)

  6. Happy Anniversary- not so much of the fall but of surviving and using the experience to make yourself a better person.

  7. A friend of mine has a saying... "Good news, bad news, too soon to tell."

    Falling, getting hurt, recovering physically and mentally - it seems like a big price to pay, but just look what you've done since then. You've achieved and progressed in so many ways with all three horses. Enjoy your anniversary! :D

  8. I'm with you all the way on this one. Still in recovery from my broken hip bone. I will not take naughty horse out on the trail again. At our age it is better to be wise than foolish about such things. Not yet back in the saddle, but soon, I hope.

  9. Wow. Three years.

    Here's to many more safe years in the saddle. This may not be a fondly remembered anniversary, but it is good reminder to us all that we must be prepared for the unpredictable if we want to enjoy horses.

  10. It's wonderful that you have persisted and your anniversary is one of endurance and survival with the ability to be flexible with life. Long may it continue!

  11. You've come a long way since your fall. A bad fall like that is hard to overcome physically and mentally. I'm glad you're having so many good rides.It's hard to come back when you're older like I am but you've done a great job of it. And more importantly you seem to be having fun, as you should.


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