So, since Legs was due to foal in late January, she was stalled in the barn in the maternity stall that we built for her (and Paige). Most of the time Paige stayed in the run in in the barn with her, and when I say most of the time, I mean when Paige’s hay bag wasn’t empty. Legs would stress when Paige went out to graze (on nothing…), so we decided to bring Paige in and begin stalling her so that Legs could relax and have the baby. Now that the baby has arrived in this world, we’re planning on offering more turnout for both mares, but the weather hasn’t been ideal yet (until now).
So, we’ve been turning them out in my “indoor,” which is fine, except Paige just picks up strands of hay off of the ground instead of stretching her legs. In our typical casual style, I tied a lead rope around to her halter and scurried on her from my mounting block. I should’ve used some common sense and a) put my helmet on and b) maybe even put my new fancy non slip bareback pad on, but no…it was just a quick little “ride” in the barn.
Paige is supah fat right now. Yes, yes. She’s…what…nine months pregnant now? So, she’s expected to be larger than usual, but Paige does nothing halfheartedly (in regards to food maybe. haha) and has really broadened out. I could serve dinner for four on her back. She’s huge. With that being said, when horse is huge, the rider is out of shape, and the huge horse makes quick movements (she doesn’t generally do anything quickly…minus, you know, eating…thanks nibble net!), it doesn’t set the rider up for success.
So after walking around the barn a fair amount, I played with sidepassing. I was trying not to stir up dust in the barn that Legs and baby would be forced to inhale and was getting bored just walking around. Paige was walking enthusiastically and with happy, floppy ears before I asked her to sidepass, and wasn’t too upset about sidepassing, but was still energetic. I’d been asking her to sidepass to the right, but she, for whatever reason, decided to sidepass to the left towards the cross tie stalls. At this point I’d realized I was fighting a dumb and useless battle asking an energetic horse to do something requiring her brain moreso than body. Since Paige knows how to sidepass correctly and does so generally without silliness, I went ahead to let her get away with it and just asked her to go forward and to the right (I was at least going to go the direction I’d been asking…). Apparently she went right quicker than I was prepared for and left me behind. I think my weight was still tipped to the left of her backbone since I had been previously giving her signals to move her body to the right away from my left leg.
What would have generally been something we laughed off (falling off my dead broke 17 yr old mare, in the barn, at the walk and landing on my ass) was complicated by the fact that I whacked my head on the post of the cross tie stall on the way down. As I mentioned earlier, I was dumb and didn’t “prep” for this “ride” at all and neglected to put my helmet on. An emergency room visit (and fee…), going on a solid week of intermittent dizziness, occasional nausea, a sore head, and the pure embarrassment of it has easily solidified my resolve to strap my helmet on every single freaking ride.
Bridling and putting on my helmet are generally the same step for me when getting ready to ride, so I’ve ridden Paige numerous times without my helmet since I’ll often catch her in the field/shove her against a mounting block (fence, pile of dirt, gate, tractor front end loader, etc.) and ride her back to the barn in a halter. From now on if I’m going out to catch Paige in this manner, I’ll just go ahead and grab my helmet before I walk out to her.
A visitor to the barn the other day asked me if I was afraid to ride again, to which I replied, not at all, but that I’ll be wearing my helmet when I do. I can’t fathom the damage that could be done if one were to fall off and hit their head with any speed/force behind the collision as I merely thumped my head when slipping off bareback. Heck, as sore as my head has been (and as dizzy as they make me) I’ve been avoiding stairs if I can because I kind of give them side-eye and worry about falling/smacking my head on another hard surface.
On the good side of things, I had friends there who were able to a) assess the damage and b) take my butt to the ER. After hitting the ground, I immediately sat up and, upon seeing stars, leaned forward and propped my upper body against Paige’s front legs for stability (good girl hung with me despite there being hay and baby horses about!). I leaned there until A (who was cleaning Legs and baby’s stall) rushed over to check me out. She saw the entire thing and noticed that I hit my head and made me sit on the bench while they (her husband (S) was there too) finished the barn chores. During the chores they were apparently carrying on conversation with me. I don’t remember any of the conversation, but noticing that I felt like I was in a foggy dreamlike atmosphere watching them do all the barn chores and my barn felt backwards to me, like everything was in the wrong places. They’ve been trying to buy a house for the last few months, something we’ve talked about at length, so the true measure of my head injury was tested when I replied to S by saying “what house?”
So they called Jason to meet us at the ER, S put me in his car and took me to the ER while A took my car to my house for me. Meanwhile I’m just (mostly) doing as they say and wandering to the car saying odd things. I didn’t remember riding Paige or hitting my head at all. I didn’t even really realize that anything hurt until I got to the ER and was sitting on a hospital bed with a nurse touching my head. After a CT scan and a few nausea pills they deemed me good to go. The last week has been annoying between the dizziness and inability to focus on things, but I’m very relieved and thankful that I had friends there to help me in the moment and afterwards as A has been pulling more than her fair share of the weight with feeding/barn chores since I hit my head. I’ve improved drastically over the last two days and can basically do everything as usual except bending over for prolonged periods of time (and lunging Copper when he thinks he’s Secretariat, but that’s a post for another day). 😉