Early afternoon on Saturday I took Ries for a little trail ride with my mom and a friend and then decided I would work Whitman in the outdoor. As always, it was windy and now brisk in terms of temperatures but the idea of riding inside seemed like a punishment. Whitman tends to get a little sucked back in the indoor and it is half the size of the outdoor. Besides, with the time change, I hardly ever get to ride outside in the fall. I almost debated skipping Whitman for the day and just getting back to house cleaning but realized that constantly skipping days with Whitman was going to cause more problems than good (should have had that talk with myself Thursday and Friday when I didn’t get my horse worked – bet you can see where this leads and my apologies for the lack of suspense and overuse of foreshadowing). I tacked his ginormous bay self up and headed to the outdoor. Whitman was being silly and a handful on the way up so I took the time to do some extra ground work and make certain that he was being soft and supple before I got on. That went fine, warm up went fine – there were a few typical Whitman behaviors but nothing particularly off putting or attention getting. The gate to the pasture was clanging away and that didn’t seem to be bothering him, he was suspicious of the corner by where my horse trailer is parked but not overly concerned. We finished our warm up and had a quick walk break. I picked him back up and we trotted through the short side. I was feeling him out and trying to put together a plan for the day, when all of a sudden we were hurtling down the long side like a warmblood out of hell. I was gathering up the reins and being slightly surprised considering I have tried to get this horse galloping and can’t, and then all of a sudden I was launched out of the saddle and above Whitman – still no idea that was coming and I normally have a pretty good sense of feel for impending bucking. I landed on his neck and knew that this was going to be unsalvagable – in retrospect I wish I had just hung onto his neck. I thought I was going off to the left side which would have dumped me head first into the fence and the telephone poles I use to edge the arena so I attempted to hurl myself off feet first to the right. I am not certain what caused that planned attempt to fail but I was lawndarted in front of the galloping bucking warmblood – not where I wanted to be. I curled up in a ball and was counting footfalls trying to figure out when I could uncurl. Pretty sure Whitman has at least eight legs. I clearly remember two to the butt/back and one on my leg but can’t explain some additional wounds. The only I can think of is that one of them must have kicked me ahead or I was still rolling forward as he was going.
Whitman continued on and I came to rest again the previously mentioned telephone poles in an explosion of pain and profanity. I don’t really remember swearing but my dad was driving by so he came right over and told my mom that I know a lot of bad words. I do remember screaming for my husband who had just come home. He was heading up the driveway and saw the start of the bolting/bucking and had come sprinting up like some male lead in a Nicholas Sparks story.
My main concern was the exploding pain in my hip (butt but hip sounds better) and he was scared by the blood I was spitting. That blood however was from my grinding my lips across my arena (I have gone through so much chap stick in the last few days). I was doing a pretty quick mental inventory of body parts and knew that I could wiggle my toes so that was good. I’d managed to keep my head up and clear, so no concerns there. I have always been very adamant about no ambulance rides, so the decision I was working on was to go to the emergency room or not. By that time, my knee was making its complaints known and I was worried about a broken pelvis. So while contemplating that it was up to my husband to grab my horse and get him back to the barn. My father went and got his car and brought it to the arena. My husband got the horse and asked what he was insured for – I responded “not gunshots” and requested that he be really careful with my new saddle. If you could actually get your eyes stuck in your head from rolling them, my husband might have been at risk.
Once the horse was squared away, we got me loaded and headed off to the local ER. Getting my boots/spurs/half chaps/breeches off was fun (but nothing had to be cut off I am pleased to say) and I think half of my arena footing was now in the ER room. I couldn’t lay on my back or my sides really so had this really awkward rag doll pose going while wounds were checked and bandaged. I got sent off for x-rays and within a short period was told that nothing was fractured and once I peed in a cup I could go home. I got that delightful job completed and was figuring it was going to be an unfun end of the weekend but would be able to be cranky and sore at home. However, there were blood cells found so off I went to the CT scanner. I am pretty sure I could have glowed in the dark at that point. So we were waiting the results of that when we heard the doctor discussing that “she” had a fracture of L3/L4. Since its a very small hospital and the only two patients were me and an elderly gentlemen, I was pretty sure who was getting that diagnosis. After a lot of back and forth and some questions on costs/ambulance rides/etc that my husband is still picking on me for, and it was off to a bigger hospital for me.
So I got my first ambulance ride after all. The one medic that rode with me was very nice and we ended up on a discussion of diesel engines/tow vehicles/ people being suit-happy and overly entitled that helped pass the time. Let me tell you stretchers are very uncomfortable when you cannot lay on your back and an ambulance is not a smooth ride – should have gone in the Tahoe.
At the larger hospital, I got a whole team of trauma people. As the ER doctor pointed out to me after they had finished – they found me pretty underwhelming – no gunshot/bones poking through/loss of consciousness or shattered limbs. The trauma doctor’s most remarkable finding was that my knees seemed to not have any fusion and questioned my age. While I love when people think I am younger than I am – that was not what I was expecting.
Once they left, another nurse came in to interview me – third time someone asked
“Is there a history of domestic violence” “No” (problem is I was having a hard time keeping a straight face since a few days prior my husband and son had me pinned and were tickling me beyond my tolerance and I bit my husband on the forearm hard enough to leave a mark).
“Did you do this intentionally?” “No – I intended to stay on the horse but the laws of physics didn’t pause long enough to ask my opinion”
“Are you an organ donor” “Yes, but from what they have told me so far I am leaving with everything I came in with tonight”.
Answers like these invariably lead to someone looking at my chart to see what painkillers I am on – sorry, can’t blame this shining personality on modern medicine. The trauma doctor had politely told me I didn’t qualify to stay and they would be sending me home. The ER doctor decided I needed to stay a little longer but didn’t need to be admitted. I got loaded up on pain killers, got another x-ray and got to go home about ten hours after the whole adventure started. All of the doctors and nurses that we dealt with were really great.
I have to lay low for two weeks (no one is looking forward to that) and cannot ride for six weeks. Whitman will be heading off for some training and we will figure out the rest as we see how everything unfolds. As I have told a lot of people, particularly non-horse people – I knew the type of horse I was buying and had sought it out. Horses don’t get to be that fancy and get to the level that I want him to get to without a lot of desire to show off and tremendous physical strength and talent. Whether I will be able to devote the time and the resources to doing this remains the question, but that is part of the Beer Budget Dressage Challenge. I will certainly be back in the saddle as soon as I am allowed and we will see from there.