A fast fall is better than a slow one

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 3, 2022

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Any woman involved in a dangerous sport is a pretty tough nut, I find, and I was reminded of this upon running into a horsey friend at a local event.


“So how are things with you and your ponies?” I asked, giving the silly nickname we tend to give to horses.

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“Oh,” she said with a nonchalant wave of her hand. “I had a concussion a couple of weeks ago, but I’m OK.”


And in the most lackadaisical manner, she gave me the scoop of how she’d parted ways with her horse while schooling over a cross country fence—he shot to the right, she, the left, resulting in her taking a hard fall and realizing in a moment she was concussed, as she became exceedingly dizzy. 


“I figured I might have a brain bleed and needed to get to St Luke’s,” she explained. “But I had to get the horse home, right? So I loaded him up in the trailer and texted my husband telling him the route I was taking to come home, and if I didn’t make it, this is where he’d find me.” Completely devoid of any drama, she finished her story by saying, “The whole way home, I’m thinking, ‘I wonder what a brain bleed feels like…’”


Did I mention she’s 70? And returned to riding within days? (by the way, she did have a brain bleed, she said—but “just a tiny one, and the ER doctor took care of it.”)


Rock on!!


Her fall immediately took me to my last launch into orbit—thankfully, a pretty rare experience— and it’s amazing, isn’t it, when traumatic events occur and seemingly take forever to end. People talk about that happening with car crashes—as if everything suddenly goes into slow motion even though you hear the squealing of brakes and the shattering of glass. 


Bolting after a spook, and, just to be sarcastic, I suspect, my horse threw in several bucks that had me fighting for balance so that I couldn’t even bail if I wanted to. I knew I was a goner when he jumped down a grassy bank, because ALL horses will throw when they reach the bottom of a bank in that frame of mind. Slamming on the brakes and then hurtling to the right with a final, almighty buck, it felt something akin to being shot out of a cannon. It’s amazing the number of thoughts that run through the mind within a handful of seconds. I seem to remember them in this order:


  1. Jesus help me (He certainly did)


  1. Man, this is going to hurt


  1. DON’T land on the wrist you already broke


  1. Maybe I should have gotten some highlights so I’ll look good during my visitation


Horsepeople always say a fast fall is better than a slow one. You tend to roll instead of going splat, and that’s what happened to me. I was wearing my helmet which was invaluable for my head, but not my butt, which, along with my right shoulder, took up most of the impact. I jumped up like a jack-in-the-box, immediately texted Paul, in case I had a brain bleed and collapsed before I made it back to the barn, and, cussing, followed my galloping horse across the field.


There are silver linings to be found in the most dire circumstances and for me, it was the astonishing fact that not only did I not break anything, leaving me to cancel a bone density test, but I wasn’t even sore the following day. Or the next. I did, however, receive a heck of a bruise on the left side of my butt, and amusingly, the swelling that occurred around it, for the first time in my life, gave me a womanly curve.


“Look!” I said to Paul, the next morning, after I’d pulled on my riding breeches. “I finally have a round butt.”


“Yeah,” he agreed, nodding. “Although only on one side. It looks like you got butt implants but one got repossessed.”


I’m pretty sure Kim Kardashian didn’t start this way…