Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Wings

I searched through the "Wings Archives" to find a suitable photo for this post. I settled on this one since this is how I end up looking at the end of the story.

So if you follow me on Twitter, you already know about this, but I took a nasty fall off Wings on Tuesday. It's a long story, but the short version is this: A wayward jacket scared her and as I was trying to convince her it wasn't going to eat her, she bolted. In that split second my brain registered what was happening and I went to do a one rein stop. The nano second after I processed that, she started bucking. I think on the third one I went off. I went flying over her head and I knew that I was going to land on my head.

I hit the ground (thankfully it was in that sand arena in the photo) in some form of head first and the momentum of my body flipped my legs up and over so I came to rest on my back.

You can't tell in the photo, but the visor is actually bent inward. Hit the front of my face/head...

And rolled up on over my head as a pivot point to come to rest on my back.

In all the times I've fallen off of a horse I never in the past lay there wondering if I would be able to stand up. I moved my legs and my arms and decided nothing hurt. It was hard to catch my breath for a second but I got up with no big problem. Wings was standing there looking fairly apologetic. It all ends well as I got back on and got her to put her nose down on the jacket (you'd think she could have just done that in the first place).

From the moment I stood up the middle of my back was pretty sore. It also hurt a bit when I took a nice deep breath. Today my back is stiff and it hurts a lot to try to stand up straight with an arch in my back. I have a bruise on my upper right forehead and also strangely enough between my eyes. I am too sore to run and I am pretty shaken up.

I have had scarier falls in the sense that I've been maliciously run off with or been bucked off with no warning. I know she was scared -- she wasn't being mean or a brat. So it isn't so much the fact that she dumped me. I think it is the way I landed that has really caught me off guard. I recall being bucked off in the past and having a bruise on my forehead through my helmet so it isn't like I haven't hit my head before. But that previous time I landed more on my side and bounced my head on the ground.

I landed on my head this time and it doesn't take much of an imagination to think of how badly this whole thing could have played out. A woman who saw me go off pretty much said she thought I had broken my neck. What if the angle had been slightly different? What if we hadn't been in a sand arena? I am a decade older than the last time I rode regularly and I have a keener sense of my own vulnerability.

I have to admit this has made me question whether or not I should be riding at all. I have priorities in life (living and walking being one of them) and this fall has definitely messed up a major one -- running. Last week was a bit of a wash since I had a head cold. I had an amazing tempo run Tuesday before I went riding. Just as I was starting to feel back on track I am sidelined from running again. I skipped my run this morning and am seriously doubting whether my back will be well enough to run 20 on Friday.

If you ride you understand you're taking a risk. There are no guarantees and most likely you're going to fall off every now and then. I knew this going in, but suddenly all of that is in harsh focus for me. If I keeled over dead in the middle of a road race I wouldn't regret running. But if something were to happen to me while riding I don't think that is worth it for me.

I enjoy horses a lot but if I had to choose, I'd choose running any day of the week.


p.s. ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding a horse. If you are at a touristy trail ride, ask for one and decline to ride if they don't provide them. Even supposedly bomb-proof horses can have a bad moment. I was listening to a horse podcast once and the guy said there is no such thing as a bomb-proof horse. "I'd bet you anything that if a bomb actually went off next to a 'bomb-proof' horse, he'd react!" I know of someone whose horse actually tripped and fell down on top of her. You never know what is going to happen and it has nothing to do with how much you trust an animal or how good of a rider you think you are. I never understand it when I see people riding without a helmet.


d. moll, said...

Yow, and ouch X 100. I am so glad you are OK. From a one time rider's stand point you sure were lucky. The numbers run both ways on that you may never have such a close fall again and you may never get that lucky again. Yes, sometimes you have to choose what you love the most.

Crafty Green Poet said...

that sounsd very scary and painful, glad you're okay

EndorphinBuzz said...

OMG I had no idea it was so serious from your tweet. I imagined you just stumbled off or something. I'm glad you appear to be okay and I hope serious falls like this one do not happen in the future. I know nothing of horses so I cannot comment on what you should do next but be careful!!!

heather said...

I got bucked off in 2005. Like you it was a freak thing and when I fell I didn't think I was hurt. I broke my pelvis. It destroyed my desire to ride. I had ridden and shown forever so I totally understand where you are coming from. I still have my horse and I play with her but she's a pet. I still work with horses but I think I'm done riding.

Hef's Mom said...

Wow! How scarey! And I hate when I am too sore to walk the dogs, I feel your pain, it makes me so mad! I only rode horses for a couple of months and didn't fall but I hear you, helmets all the time!

Marlene said...

I'm not on Twitter much and totally missed this - how scary! Glad you are okay. Horses scare me. Most things outside of my complete control do...

Sam Felsenfeld said...

When I was in high school, I got pushed head-first into the shallow end of a a swimming pool and I broke my neck. I didn't know I had broken my neck, but my head hurt and I was really sore, so my dad took me down and the next thing you know, I was in the hospital. I look back on that day as a day in which I was blessed big-time, because I was thisclose to being paralyzed. I totally understand how lucky you feel.

That being said, if you're still feeling pain, do yourself a favor and go to the doctor and get yourself looked at. You don't want to mess around with your spine. Better safe and out a co-pay than sorry!

bunnygirl said...

Wow, I'm glad you're okay. I'm with Sam - get checked out by a doc, even if you think you don't need it. You might have injuries that aren't obvious or even very serious, but that could become worse if not treated right.

Nicole said...

Omg i'm so sorry you fell!!! I'm glad your okay!!!!

Chic Runner said...

I'm glad you are okay! Sheesh, I saw this on twitter and had to get the inside scoop. Get checked out to make sure that you are okay though :(! Hope you are on your way to recovery soon!

Average A said...

This is so scary and my god, I'm so glad you were able to walk away from this in one piece. I know how much running means to you, and I'm with you on the the "I dont want to risk things that could ruin my running" -- but I also know how much riding means to you AND how important it is for us to branch out from our routines. What happened could be considered a fluke, but still, it happened... and it could happen again. How big is that risk to you?

Deciding if riding is going to hinder your running is only a decision you can make. I hope your answer comes with clarity.

I'm with your other readers, too, in thinking that you should get checked out. You're having some odd aches & pains, and while I'm sure that's normal after a tragic force to the body, something could be wrong that your body isn't giving you the signals yet. Rest up and please be well.


Marci said...

Gosh this is just scary!! I am glad you are OK.. I have always been afraid to ride a horse.

Anonymous said...

I am SO glad you're ok! I can't imagine how scary that must have been for you. I think you should go to the doc though and get checked out just to be on the safe side...if you took that hard of a fall it's better to be safe than sorry.

It's a hard call to make about continuing to ride or not, but I say go with your know what's best for you!

Diana said...

ive been silently stalking you for a while.

wow. glad you are okay. I would personally run and not ride, but I dont share your obvious love of horses.

Do you think you are gonna run this weekend?

Rabbits' Guy said...

You run for your health, now and later. Riding a horse is for something else. Maybe you don't need it any more.

naomi said...

This was a lot scarier than I thought! I'm so glad that you are okay and do hope you get checked out by a dr...better to be safe than sorry!

Lisa said...

Yikes. That is terrifying. Definitely go to the doctor. It never hurts, but it could hurt not to.

I have never been bucked off, but when I was in Junior High school (or younger?) I had a pretty scary accident. I was riding in a park with a friend my age. The horse I was riding saw an open field and just bolted. I guess we hadn't tightened the girth enough, because the saddle started to slip. While I was trying to hang on desperately (I was mostly thinking about what it would mean to lose someone else's pet forever, and what that horse cost them), I also kept thinking what would happen if he kicked my head or stepped on my neck. In the end I jumped, and another rider happened to be in the park at that time, find him, and bring him back to my friend who was in pursuit. It's nowhere near as bad as what happened to you, but it was terrifying, especially for someone who was maybe 12 at the time and not a strong rider.

I think this line from your post says it all: "If I keeled over dead in the middle of a road race I wouldn't regret running. But if something were to happen to me while riding I don't think that is worth it for me."

That said, be careful when you're running, too. That can also be dangerous, just in a very different way.

cliff said...

first of all, i'm glad nothing "serious" happened to you. second, this is a very similar experience to my cycling accident... 4 surgeries later, i'm finally able to workout and do the things i enjoy, although my arm isn't 100% and probably never will be. i can't ride my road bike any longer (my arm hurts when i put it in that position), but you know what? i can live with that. i also don't think i can swim any longer either, although i haven't tried since my most recent surgery (it was hurting too much - wobbly elbow).

did you go see a doc after? they'll prob want you to get xrays and stuff. can't hurt.

i have no advice on whether you should continue horse riding, but no one would blame you if you stopped. i've never gone skiing, snow boarding, or ice skating, and with my arm like this, i don't plan on ever trying, even to impress a chick! i know i'm a klutz (i'm not calling you a klutz)! i would still jump out of a plane or go white water rafting and crap like that though, if the opportunity arose.

oh, and it was a good thing i wore my helmet also. it's all scraped up.