Hospital or On

Eli and I fell on Saturday. First, both he and I are pretty much okay.

I was riding with my trainer Saturday morning. She had me working on a more engaged but slightly collected canter from a two-point. Eli cantered right on up the long side on his left lead, and he tripped. He is pretty athletic and passably coordinated, the trip didn’t even register at first.

Until he tripped again, on himself, while trying to catch himself. The ground got really close all of a sudden. The feeling of my horse going down underneath me sickened me, and I was concerned he was seriously injured. And then I hit the dirt. I lay in a heap, staring at Eli’s hooves a foot in front of my face — he had already gotten to his feet. We both had dirt everywhere.

poor kid faceplanted šŸ˜¦

and I used my arms to break my fall which is actually really dumb but it’s not like I had time to decide

The trainers were right there telling me to sit still for a minute as I asked if Eli was okay and I tried to reach for him and stand up. Then it kind of sunk in that I felt okay and Eli looked okay and we just got extremely lucky. I asked if my head hit the ground, because it didn’t seem like it. That’s not to say I wasn’t dazed — both of us were. I kept wanting to check on Eli, but my trainer was looking him over and reassuring me; he scraped his knee and had dirt all over the front of his head, his face, but he seemed okay otherwise, standing quietly with a slightly confused look. The barn owner/trainer’s dog came over and sat on me, which was quite possibly the most comforting thing ever, so I hugged her.

dirt alllllll over my boots

I stood up. I walked Eli a few steps, and then — this is important to me — to the mounting block. On the face of it, we were okay. But I needed to know if Eli really was okay. Why give myself time to think? I breathed a sigh of relief when he trotted off sound, cantered without one hoof out of place. Falls can be just as traumatic for the horse as the rider, so getting back to doing what we normally do as soon as possible felt very important to me, so as not to damage Eli’s confidence. And since we didn’t seem injured much, that’s what we did.

Our lesson continued — we jumped around and I missed a lead, he played a little in the outside line. He rode in fine form otherwise, jumping great, as though nothing had happened, although the footing ground into his bonnet and browband might have given up a clue.

I think Eli’s knee took the brunt of his fall

At first, I thought what a shame I didn’t get this on film … until I talked to a few other riders who witnessed it. It looked really scary. It was a freak thing. “Are you okay?” I rarely ever allow myself into such a position as to even be asked that, but I was okay and Eli was okay. One rider said Eli did everything in his power to avoid stepping on me, flinging himself back as he got up and screeching to a halt, staring down at me. I can’t tell you what a relief it was, that I never saw him down.

I have been riding Eli for years, and I had not fallen off in years, and never off Eli. Perhaps we are so amicable toward each other’s inclinations that we even fall together, and count on each other to recover together. This could have ended quite differently; that is not lost on me, and my hope is that Eli won’t think twice about it. This isn’t even the first time a horse has fallen with me! I can’t recommend it, but each time has been completely out of the blue, so I have no idea how to avoid it.

Perhaps this was a “freak” accident, although I am not sure something like this is really a freak thing with horses. Unpredictable, definitely. And hopefully unlikely. But it is very much within the realm of possibility that this could happen to any horse and rider pair, regardless of either’s previous experiences. Make safety a part of your daily routine around horses and prepare for the worst. Eli and I got really lucky on Saturday, and I know neither of us were cutting any corners. I had complete confidence we were in a safe environment with excellent footing and good equipment: but don’t think this can’t happen to you, because it can.

definitely swelling … it looked less gross once I washed it off with betadine.

Eli came out of his stall on Sunday with his characteristic toddleresque snippishness, prodding for treats. I had poulticed his fronts after our lesson on Saturday, along with doctoring the scrapes on his knee and face. We had storms Saturday night and Sunday morning, so I just let him graze and walk around for a bit, as the turnouts were too muddy and working students teamed up to get all of the horses hand walked. I rubbed liniment on Eli’s fronts after jogging him. If I really wanted to see it, he could have been slightly off on his left front, the scraped up knee. Understandably so as I have some soreness here and there myself. I also poulticed his knee around the scrape, putting Corona on the scrape itself. I cannot get a chiropractor out to look over Eli fast enough, and if anything’s truly amiss, I’ll have the vet out. For myself … Alka Seltzer.

Please, be safe out there. After 30+ years riding horses, I don’t know how many close calls I have left, but I would rather focus with gratitude on what I do have. And I can’t wait to get back in the saddle with Eli, our scrapes be damned.

Sports amnesia really came in handy for me. I had few worries after jumping Eli on Saturday. But I must admit, once I finally took my helmet off, it had dirt in it. I have had my share of tumbles, and this was new for me. While I don’t think my helmet was damaged in this fall as Eli never touched me and my arms and hip hit the ground first, I can’t help but wonder if I would be more comfortable going forward in a different helmet with smaller vents and higher performance ratings in independent impact studies. Looking at you, Kask and Trauma Void.

this seems less than acceptable to me

Maybe this reads melodramatic, but I don’t care. Addled and faulty as my brain may be, I only get the one. And without it, who’s picking up Eli’s tab?

29 thoughts on “Hospital or On

  1. Watch the arm, Karen, or rather have someone else watch the back of your arm. I did the same thing years back, didn’t think much of it, and damned if it didn’t turn into cellulitis. Let’s face facts here-you just ground your arm into a surface contaminated with all kinds of bacteria (including tetanus) and gave them a paradise of a place to breed and make a home in. I know you didn’t think about it that way, but that’s what you did. It might do just fine, but if it shows any signs of reddening-get thee hence to a doctor or PA and get an antibiotic fast.

    If your helmet is less than a year old, the manufacturer may trade it in on warranty. Just a thought. They take that stuff very seriously.

    Had to get tickled at your first photo of Eli-he’s clearly embarassed. He thought he screwed up and let you done. Poor boy!

    Find some Arnica tablets and salve-it’s a homeopathic and, damn! the stuff is amazing!! Takes the soreness right out of muscles!


    • Oh, I am a germphobe and looking at both my arms from every angle daily! And since I already had betadine in hand to clean up Eli’s scrape (which could also go the cellulitis route but I hope it doesn’t obviously) I washed both my arms with betadine in addition to Eli’s knees.

      The helmet is a 2014 and nearing the end of its lifespan soon, anyway. And International Helmet Awareness Day is right around the corner so I hope to make it to my local Dover to try on a bunch.

      I felt SO BAD for Eli. I can only imagine how confusing and scary that fall must have been for him. But he bounced right back, so that was a relief!


  2. The same day this happened to you a local GP rider had a young horse flip over on him at Balmoral and it shattered his femur! Horses and the accidents that can happen with them are no joke! Christian had to have surgery in Chicago to screw his leg back together again. I’m so glad your wreck was significantly less dramatic and hope that you and Eli are on the mend.


  3. ouch i saw your instagram this weekend so knew you were both okay but still ouch. glad it all ended better than it could of! Remus is such a klutz with his feet I am shocked I haven’t ended in the dirt from him tripping. UGH.

    Poor Eli. Hope his knee is better today!! (And hope you find a nice helmet to replace that one) šŸ™‚


  4. I am glad that you are okay. Falls are scary and can happen despite our best efforts. I’m glad that were able to get back on and give Eli (and you) his confidence back.


  5. Glad you’re both ok! I’ve gone down with horses I can’t even count how many times, and it’s very scary! This is why I can’t stand when people don’t wear helmets because they’re “just flatting” or whatever. This can happen to anyone, anytime.
    Not sure dirt in the helmet is something to scare you, but not a bad idea to replace anyway in case you did knock your head, and just didn’t realize it.
    Sheesh, all that PLUS a broken toe. Your poor body deserves a spa day too… But maybe skip the pedicure.


  6. I have certainly had my share of falls. I don’t know how many I have left in me – I’m already at PT for previous injuries. I’ve only slipped off Amber twice but she has tripped on me, nearly gone down and somehow managed to pop herself up but those are certainly heart stopping, gut wrenching things. I’m SO glad you’re okay, and that Eli is okay too ā¤


  7. That’s scary! I had a similar thing happen to me years ago when my lease horse tripped and supermanned into the dirt, it’s a frightening feeling. We both walked away uninjured. I’m glad both you and Eli are okay.


  8. Gosh that’s scary, glad both of you are mostly okay! I had a horse fall with me years ago and it was terrifying. The thought of the feeling of him just falling out from under me and there suddenly being a lot of air between me and my saddle still scares me to this day.


  9. I’m glad you are okay. As you know I had a similar go down with the horse fall not long ago. Always scary and nothing you can really do to prevent it. I was thankful I was only trotting and he did almost save it at one point so I think we went down as slow as possible for the situation. Maestro was never off from his fall but just seemed to have some soreness. I ended up getting him a massage which helped immensely.
    I got right back on and did a little to assess his soundness and calm my nerves but falls like that still seem to take a mental toll. I’ve had several nights where it has rained and the ring is a mucky mess and I just don’t want to worry and try to ride in it despite seeing everyone else doing it and being just fine. I get torn between wanting to get over my fears and just wanting to be as safe as possible.
    I definitely think it’s worth getting a new helmet. Since I leave my helmet at the barn without climate control I replace it every 3 years.


    • I think erring on the side of safety is smart — bad footing can be dangerous and I probably would ride in such wet conditions, either! I think you’re right about replacing my helmet. I do carry mine around with me instead of leaving it at the barn, but Texas has plenty of weather extremes that my helmet has been exposed to, even if only for a few hours at a time.


  10. Really scary stuff, I’m glad you’re both okay! While you are of course going to take great care of Eli, don’t forget to watch and monitor yourself too. I learned that one the hard way this spring with my broken back. Sometimes as equestrians our pain tolerance is a little too high hah! Like you said – we only get one body and I’d like to keep mine riding as long as I can!


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