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Oops, Horse Encounters Gone Wrong

Published: 6/12/2009
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By Maddy B. Gray

I noticed Jewel, the famous singer, got married to bullriding champ Ty Murray the other day.
What were you thinking, honey??
Guys like Ty may make our brave Maine fishermen look like office boys. But they have the limps, gimps, breaks, scars, and handicaps to prove it.

When I spent time in Montana, I realized cowboys don’t walk that way to be cool. It’s because they’re hurtin’.
Go to a rodeo and look for the old veteran cowboys, the ones with white hair and leather faces. Chances are, they’ll be walking with a lopsided limp, too.

At right, Clinician Chris Lombard "falls" off his mount (two bales of hay)

NickerNews Readers! Chime in with your Horse Encounters Gone Wrong. Just click on the Comment bar!

- I haven’t been around horses as much as others, but I’ve been tossed plenty. When I was young, I spent summers riding bareback and getting thrown was an every day occurrence.
My pony, Honey, sensed exactly when I was daydreaming and drifting off. Then she’d pick something random to spook at and off I’d go. She’d trot 20 feet ahead, turn around, and give me this, ‘ gotca again’ look.

- As a teenager, I exercised this BIG Clydesdale-thoroughbred cross for an acquaintance. Honda was 17 ½ hands and I was 5’5” and 120 pounds. One day, we were cantering through the Town Commons and he tripped and fell forward. You know that adrenalin zone when times slows way down?
"Ohhh, bummmer...we're falllingg...ohhh, bummmer, Honda is rolllling on top of meeee....I'm sooo glad the ground is sannndy here."
That’s where I was. I remember hitting the ground and then he fell and rolled on top of my legs, up to my waist. Then he rolled off me, got up and trotted off.
Somehow, I got up and got after him. He jogged a half mile or so ‘til he got to a road. A lady in a little car pulled over and held him 'til I appeared a moment later. I said, "Thank you" and took him. Then we rode home, fine but shaken.

- A few years ago, one of my horses got very sick, very quickly. I was trying to put a line over his neck and he unpredictably jumped away. That would have been fine but he jumped towards the electric fence. So he jumped back and knocked me down hard. Boy, did that smart. That was a trip to the ER.

- There have been countless hoof-on-toe moments, head-clocking incidents, and squeeze plays, too.
- One of these days, I'll wear a helmet. (I'm a slow learner as far as that goes.)
- I have learned a lot about horse behavior. I'm better at nipping bad manners in the bud, before it ends with me on the ground.
- I've learned to recognize my abilities for what they are. I'm no Ty Murray, but I try not to look down!
- I've learned from my mistakes and learned that being afraid of falling will often foretell the actuality. When my niece was interested in riding, her parents were scared she'd fall off. I kept telling them, "that's part of riding! She needs to fall and then get back on. Otherwise, she will always be looking down!"

I thought I’d put this topic out there and see how NickerNews readers chime in with their tales.

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6/12/2009 Dr. Rebecca Gimenez
That is so true - I think as children we got away with all kinds of things that should have killed us. Actually - some of us DID get killed, a quick look on the CDC for equestrian mortality in humans brings up some bad things - drinking while riding, drowning while riding, kicked by horse in the head, kicked in abdomen, crushed by horse in trailer/stall/etc. Run over by horses, run over by cars while riding, etc. Here is a quick prayer that our new generation of riders will learn quickly from our sheer luck!
6/12/2009 Cindy
Maddy you are absolutely right, Don't look down! Or take your mind off what you are doing. I was riding at dusk and out from behind a tree came a lady pushing a wheelbarrow! Moon spooked rolled back and fled, I went flying and broke my collar bone, and was knocked out, ended with an ambulance ride to the ER.(I now ride with a helmet) Thankfully I wasn't riding alone! Moral of the story had I not been chatting I could have maybe saved myself. Pay attention at all times. I was able to build my confidence and ride again. The lesson learned and taught by a lot of trainers is "the horse is never wrong" YOU ARE!
6/12/2009 Julie
Accidents can happen at any time...that is why they are called accidents. Several years ago I was riding my then 4 yo quarter horse, he was bothered by something along the side of the driveway, so I was working him back and forth by it to get him acclimated to it. At some point during this he backed himself into a pile of crushed stone and spooked himself, then reared. He lost his balance because his feet were in the crushed stone and went over sideways with me. I can only remember seeing his mane rising up to my face and me thinking "we are going over." The next thing I know it's several minutes later and I'm lying in the driveway with my riding partner talking to me. I ended up with a very bad bruise on the inside of my thigh and a slight concussion (even with a helmet on). Without that helmet, no telling how I'd be right now. The back of my head with the helmet hit squarely on a rock imbedded in the driveway. Needless to say, I bought a new helmet. Many years ago I heard the saying "better to wear a helmet than a wheelchair." I also think of my husband and two boys and I know that I would not want to risk them growing up without a mom to be there for them. I know there are many folks out there that ride without helmets, but with what consequences, and are they worth it? I don't wear a helmet because I think I'm a poor rider, I wear a helmet because accidents happen and our heads are not easily fixed.
6/15/2009 Trea
A few years ago, I leased a Belgian/Haflinger at the farm I worked at. We had the Cowboy Mounted Shooters from New Hampshire at the farm doing a presentation and a few people got into the act and I thought I would too. I thought Belle would be o.k. with it because she had heard the shooting all day. If you're not familiar with the Shooters, they shoot balloons with black powder 1800's period guns. I got the first run done o.k., but when we turned back for home, I shot once and all of a sudden Belle took off at a dead gallop! While she was running and bucking, I lost one of my stirrups, I stayed on for as long as I could, but eventually, gravity took over and I hit the ground. Hard. I was a little banged up, but fortunately, no broken bones. Belle was caught and brought to the barn, where I apologized to her and she forgave me and we had some wonderful times together until her passing 2 autumns ago. I learned from that experience...I ALWAYS wear a helmet and I have learned the one-rein stop, but I think my shooting days are over! By the way, I did hit 3 out of 10 balloons, and I don't think that's too bad since I haven't shot since I was 17 and I've never done it on a horse!

"No one can teach riding so well as a horse" - CS Lewis