In July I had a horseback riding accident while riding Joe. It started like any other ordinary day at the barn. I tacked Joe up and got ready to be part of a lesson with two of my friends. We did our usual routine in the lesson by warming up before we started jumping. We went over the jump the first time and on the landing Joe tripped a little but, luckily, I caught myself. We proceeded to do a mini course in which I went over one jump and then went over the second. All I can remember is my leg going too far back, me leaning forward, Joe landing, and then him going left and me flying to the right. I hit the ground hard.
Next thing I knew I felt the pain of my fall and I started screaming. They were not just random words; I screamed the f-word a ton of times. I knew something was drastically wrong with my arm/shoulder but didn’t know the extent. When I landed I must’ve landed square on my upper arm/shoulder area. My trainer came running over and assessed the situation. Luckily Joe is the type to just stand over me. While I was screaming in pain he just hovered over me looking at me thinking, “I wonder how she got there?” My trainer propped me up and tried to calm me down. I had hit my head pretty hard and I felt woozy. I knew to keep my eyes closed but to keep talking. I remember hearing one of the kids say “should we call 9-1-1?” and of course I responded with, “don’t even think about it.” Next he called my mom.
When my mom answered the phone she thought it was a joke. She quickly heard me yelling in the background, “this isn’t a joke so get your f-ing ass out here immediately.” Then my trainer called his wife, my other trainer, and we waited in the ring. One of the other riders grabbed Joe and took him down to his stall to remove his tack. Within minutes I heard my trainer’s truck come down the driveway and she was next to me. Mind you her husband, who had witnessed the accident, was still propping me up. It was the only way to keep me comfortable. She took off my helmet and boots and put my shoes on. By that time my mom got to the barn and they were helping me get up. Because of my knee surgery I have trouble getting up and usually use my right arm to prop up. After much help they finally got me on my feet and I took a couple steps. That’s when I felt another pain in my hip area and noticed I had trouble putting weight on my right leg. After taking a couple steps I got woozy and said I couldn’t walk any further.
They quickly decided that the best option to get me to the car was in a wheelbarrow. Yes, the same wheelbarrow that was just used to muck shit out of the barn. Thankfully they emptied it before placing me inside. They wheeled me up to my mom’s car and we headed to the hospital. That was the longest car ride of my life.
I basically threw myself in a wheelchair from the car and told my mom to get me in there now. Now imagine me going into the ER. I was covered from head to toe in dirt, soaked in sweat, and not a happy camper. I thought I had just dislocated my shoulder. Next thing I knew they had me in the trauma bay and I was retelling the story of what just happened. The ER doc was really nice and so were the nurses. I got on the trauma bed and then the trauma team came.
There must be some big button they press when a trauma patient comes in because next thing I knew I was surrounded by a trauma team. They were dressed from head to toe in gowns, masks, and gloves. When they filed into the trauma area it reminded me of when football teams run out onto the field. They were ready and prepared for anything. Next thing I knew I felt someone cutting my shirt off and then my sports bra. Not even two minutes went by before they were cutting my clothes off. I didn’t realize it was spring break to them when it came to cutting my top off. Next they wanted to cut off my breeches. That’s when holy hell broke lose. I started screaming at them, “ DO NOT CUT MY PANTS OFF.” I was ready to use my legs to kick the shit out of them if they tried to cut those pants off. Anyone who wears breeches knows that when you find a goof pair that fits you correctly and you look good, you hold onto them no matter what. Thankfully the ER doc was a horse person and understood my craziness. They shimmied them off.
I was rolled on my left side and they pushed down from my neck to my entire spine. Once again the scissors came to visit but this time it was to cut off my underwear. I looked over at my mom and said, “well that escalated quickly”. Meanwhile they were trying to put an IV in my arm and take an x-ray. At this point I had my right arm held in a death lock with my left arm. It was holding the bone in place. The x-ray techs tried to move my arm and I started screaming, “mother f-er what are you doing?” It hurt so much. If I had a swear jar for how many times I used the f-word that day it definitely would exceed $1,000. I also had CT scans done to see if I did any other damage. The best was when my mom said the chaplain walked by while I was yelling the F-word like crazy.
Finally we saw the x-ray of my arm and in typical fashion I said to my mom, “well no wonder my arm hurts the bone isn’t in the arm area anymore.” I was told that I had broken the head of my humerus off my shoulder. I would need surgery to repair it. I also had sustained a concussion, some broken ribs, and a small fracture in my pelvis. By the time this was all processed they said I would have to wait until Monday morning to have the surgery. They said I could go home but I’m pretty sure my mom was giving the trauma surgeon and his PA signals like there is no way I’m taking her home like this. I spent the weekend in the hospital falling in and out sleep, thanks to my drugs. My cousins and a couple of family friends came and visited me, which was really nice.
On the morning of my surgery they wheeled me down to the pre- surgery area. I answered all the questions and changed into the ever-glamorous surgery gown. My orthopedic trauma surgeon stopped by to check on everything before they took me back. When he asked if I had any questions I said yes and followed it by saying, “now don’t fuck this up.” My mom looked at me and her jaw dropped. Luckily my surgeon cracked a smile and laughed.
I went back for surgery and fell into a nice sleep. While I was being operated on my cousin and his fiancé sat with my mom and sister and brought them lunch. After surgery I was put in another room and spent the night in the hospital. I was told I would be using a cane to help me walk and that my arm would be in a sling for a couple weeks. I also was told I would not be able to ride for 12 weeks while everything was healing.
I spent the rest of my summer recovering at home. PT/OT came to my house for the first couple weeks. I had to rely on my left arm to do everything. My mom drove me everywhere. I went out to the barn to visit Joe. I went to watch Joe show at a horse show in NY a couple times. By the end of August I was cleared to do outpatient OT and drive again. I went to outpatient OT two to three times a week for three month. My arm has come a long way since the beginning.
Apparently when I have a horseback riding accident it couldn’t have been just a simple fall where I got up after I fell. Joe definitely knew I was out of commission when I would come to the barn with a cane and my arm in a sling. When I finally was able to start doing stuff with him, I started with just grooming. Brushing him and picking out his feet was a workout for me. My whole body took a major hit and needed a while to recover. I’m still trying to build up my endurance when I ride. Plus the cooler temps don’t help my lungs. I think brushing him was a great exercise for strengthening my right arm again and helping to improve my range of motion.
Even though I had a bad fall off of Joe, I am not getting rid of him. He is stuck with me forever. I recently had someone ask me if I was going to sell him since it was his fault that I fell off and got injured. I politely said no and corrected the person by telling her that it was my fault I fell off. I had leaned at the jump and my leg was too far back. Joe was like, “hell no girl I’m not saving your ass for that”. I wanted to ask them if they would sell a family member if he/she broke a dish or colored on the walls. For once I kept my mouth shut. In the words of Maury Ballstein, "what do we do when we fall off the horse? We get back on." I did what any sane person would do after a traumatic fall off a horse; I bought another one who is even bigger.