I always knew it would happen this way. Since Tally was a foal, she was easy going and soft-eyed – but, without warning, some sound or movement would set her off and she would bolt. In the beginning, she’d fly right into you – not so dangerous with a foal, but something we had to adjust before she got too big. As she grew up, she’d bolt in a semi-circle around her handler. With time and work, it happens far less frequently – but it is still there. I knew that the first time it happened under saddle, and I got even a little off balance, she would blow sky high. Which is exactly what she did on Sunday.
Tally has a big buck. She’s not only 17 hands, but has a massive hind end for thrust. When first introduced to the saddle, she gave me quite a show – worthy of at least high school rodeo. Hence my choice to find someone to start her under saddle. When she went to the trainer, it wasn’t long before the trainer expressed concern over the power in Tally’s buck. However, since Tally received serious injuries before the trainer actually rode her, leaving her with a painful back, the buck never materialized.
As I’ve reported, Tally has been doing so well lately. Her ground work is calm and focused and she’s been getting better about the controls under saddle. Sunday was a nice ride, with a few soft halts to show that we’re making progress. This followed two lovely groundwork sessions on the previous days. After one particularly nice halt, I contemplated getting off – but she was so calm, and we were making progress, so I said I’d try for just one more. In hindsight, a very bad choice – but not likely the cause of what happened next.
We walked a few yards and turned away from the rail. I didn’t hear or see anything, but she suddenly dropped her butt and bolted in her usual spook pattern. Not easy to ride, with that much power, but I went with her. However, as she started to spin right, I must have hit the saddle wrong, or banged her side with a leg … whatever it was, I was suddenly thrust in the air high enough to see over the small barn against the arena. One, two … by the third huge buck, the saddle slid left (from the force of her still spinning), and I launched through the air.
I could see the sand as I plummeted face first. I managed to spin in the air, only to land flat on my back. The roll continued, but not soon enough. Breathing was sketchy – I hate getting the wind knocked out of me! Everyone tries to ask how you are, while you struggle just to breathe. The back was painful – but toes and fingers were all able to wiggle. When the breath returned, and the pain was tolerable enough to move, I stood up. My mother, holding Tally, asked if I was up to getting back on. At first I thought I could – but as I moved I realized that wasn’t an option.
As my mother put Tally away, I called Kaiser to find out which facility I could go to on a Sunday. As I was waiting for the nurse to get back on the phone, nausea and profuse sweating set in. Fearing that I could pass out, I called 911. Firemen, ambulance … the whole treatment. The fireman who walked up to me first immediately looked concerned – “You look like you might pass out on me!” Nice bunch of guys – amazed at how lucid I was. Thank goodness for riding helmets!
So, my first ride in an ambulance – strapped to a very uncomfortable board with a neck collar. Not the most pleasant ride of my life! Aside from the discomfort, the view of the ceiling was rather boring!
An afternoon in the Emergency Room, filled with nice people but not an experience I will seek to repeat. X-rays neck to tailbone. The results? A compression fracture of the first lumbar vertebra! We can’t even remember the last time I came off a horse, so clearly I was banking a really big debt! Good news is that I apparently picked a “good” vertebra to fracture, since all they do for it is manage pain, have you rest, and let it heal “in place”. The bad news is – no getting on a horse for two months! I guess mom will get a lot of riding in!
So, I get to sit and lay around, trying to find a comfortable position. So far, the fingers, toes and eyeballs are about the only things that don’t hurt. When I try to stand up, I feel one hundred years old! But, this too shall pass. As the ER doctor told me, “You horsey girls tend to be pretty stoic!”
This latest issue with Tally I cannot blame on the trainer – this is innate to her heritage and/or personality. Dani was as reactive as Tally, to external stimuli – but she was never explosive or unkind. Dani looked to me for salvation; Tally loses her connection to us when she gets alarmed. I have always been unsure of her suitability for me. I am game to take all the time a horse needs – but I am well past the age of being interested in unnecessary risk. Oh well, I have two months to puzzle over how to tackle this latest challenge with Tally.
Be good to your horses!