I think we have all been there. You took a new route, did the wrong thing at the wrong time, had something completely accidental happen. Sometimes you luck out, and nothing bad comes of it even when it should have. Other times, you get hurt, perhaps even end up in the hospital. Life can be like that, but with horses, the chances of getting injured go way up.
People handle these things in different ways. Some are able to get up and go on like nothing ever happened. Others are devastated, so traumatized that they give up riding for life. Of course, there is every nuance of feeling between those two extremes, and most people land in the middle.
I had a bad fall while cantering that still causes me back pain now and again. It has been over 6 years, and I am 90% over it. I still get a little clutch in my belly before asking for it for the first time in any particular ride, but then it smooths out and I'm okay.
My mom's bad fall is something she is still working through, and it's what I wanted to highlight today. I happened to be there for her fall, and have been helping her work through it since. I had to dig my way out of my own worm hole, too afraid and ashamed to admit my fears or to know how to ask for help. Now that I am on the other side, it is gratifying to reach out and offer empathy, support, and guidance.
Mom and Lady (ironic name) were going down a hill behind Rocky and I. We were close to the barn, coming back from a very short trail ride. My mom is new to horses and to Lady in particular. When Lady began to trot down the hill, it scared my mom so she attempted to pull her to a stop. Lady was a dominant personality mare that my mom was learning to handle, but she hadn't been able to really gain Lady's respect. Instead of stopping, Lady swerved to the side of the trail. By this time, I had heard the hoof beats behind me speed up, so I had turned around in the saddle to make sure they were okay.
I saw Lady tuck her nose a bit, then kick out with both hind legs three times in a row. By the third kick she had effectively bounced my mom out of the saddle. She fell hard on her back and right side. I was off Rocky and next to my mom as fast as I could be, where she gasped for breath. Remembering what it felt like to get the wind knocked out of me, to try to stand up while hard fists were closed around my lungs was scary by myself. I coached my mom to take slow, shallow breaths rather than claw for a big filling one. I told her to stop trying to get up and just focus on getting air.
She listened, staying on her knees with her hands on the ground in front of her, trying not to cry and moan in pain while getting the necessary oxygen. After what seemed like forever, but was probably 30 seconds or so, I could hear her breathing even out. She was still half panting from pain but it was no longer as panicky. I grabbed Lady then, and helped her slowly stand up.
We traded horses for the short walk back to the barn. I didn't know if Lady would try to rush or push her way back, but I knew Rocky would be gentle.
I ended up taking my mom to the hospital, where they admitted her for two days. It was one of the scariest drives of my life; I wanted to go fast to get there quickly, but take turns and stop carefully. She had severely bruised her kidneys and they were worried she may have internal bleeding. She was released after two days with painkillers and no internal damage other than bruising.
Since then, she has purchased a new horse named Tapper and gained new horsemanship abilities. She is still learning, as all of us are, but has come a long way.
A few days ago, we had completed a decent trail ride with no mishaps. Tapper started to trot down the same hill Lady had over a year before, and my mom panicked. It brought back all of her memories of her fall and even though he stopped when he caught up to Rocky and I, only 15 feet ahead of them, the fear had taken over my mom.
To Be Continued...