4 years ago I went for a ride around the block on a 6 year old Irish hunter. There was nothing special about the ride at all except it changed everything. One minute I was walking down a track, chatting to a friend about her new event horse and then next minute I was on the ground. Whether a bird jumped out or a car skidded I am not sure but something caused the horse to turn suddenly and head for home. I came off at such speed that my right side stirrup came right off the saddle but my other foot was stuck meaning I was dragged along the floor. It could only have been for a brief moment though as then I hit the fence.
After catching my breath, I opened my eyes to see the horse careering around the corner with my friend (thankfully still on board her mount) next to it. I stayed still a moment before I realised I was stuck to the fence and my right eye hurt. I put my hand up to my face and realised the fence had barbed wire on it which was now caught not only in my coat but also my face. I pulled the wire away from my face and lay back.
At this point, a lady who had been gardening nearby and seen the whole thing called over “Are you ok?”. “I think so” was my initial response and I tried to sit up. At this moment, a shooting pain went down my neck and back and I stopped and lay back. I noticed blood on my hand and started to taste it in my mouth. “Maybe not.” Everything I knew about falling off was if you had any concern about a neck or back injury, stay still.
My friend called the yard, the lady (I still don’t know her name but sent her a bunch of flowers after to thank her for her help) called my Mum and an ambulance. And soon I was in an air ambulance heading to the John Radcliffe.
I was very lucky – I had torn the muscles in my neck but there was no break, the wire had cut into my face and mouth but missed my eye by a millimetre (the brim of my hat actually kept it clear of my eye), both collarbones dislocated but neither broke. My favourite coat however was ruined having been cut off – I remember the feather stuffing flying everywhere due to the wind created by the helicopter and being unreasonably annoyed at the time that they cut it up and there was now feathers stuck to the blood on my face.
The next few years were a mix of rest and rehab, riding again, lacking confidence, surgery to fix collarbones, physio, lacking fitness, losing the desire to ride, trying harder, giving up, missing it and a whole mish mash of feelings along the way.
Which brings us to now. I may not be the competition rider at the top of my game as I once was but my passion for horses remains. I have had an incredible time with horses over the years; I’ve had some amazing teachers, learnt so much, made horrendous mistakes and had some of my best days in the saddle. I teach, I judge, I report on shows, write articles and I ride my old faithful Pie (although he would hate to be described as that!).
I hope it is not a case of ‘those who can, do and those whose can’t, teach’. This blog is simply an opportunity for me to share what I know. If one person reads something and it helps them then it serves it’s purpose. If one person reads it and hesitates so they think differently with their horse because of it then I’ll be happy.
Monty Roberts says his mission is to make the world a better place for horses. If I can help just a few then I’ll be happy. Although he has a 50 year headstart on me so you never know, maybe I can change the world…..