Today while working I walked smack into a jutting out wall near a garage door. I did not see how far it was out because I was looking at my camera. I felt a pretty sharp pain all down my left shoulder almost immediately but had to continue to work the claim, take photos, and get in my car and drive the rest of the day. That sucks. But it’s not a broken bone, or a shredded ligament or tendon, and I was still able to lift my arm. As things go, it was not too bad. But I have also had those falls where you get the breath knocked out of you, and you lay in the arena fighting for breath and think, who cares if the horse is loose, it just hurts. And a couple where I can’t remember anything about the day, or the week, but got back on the horse and kept riding apparently. Yikes.

Pain and being a part of the horse world seem to go hand in hand. Most professional riders, drivers, handlers or grooms have war wounds or broken bones or worse. Even my amateur friends have had serious injuries – crushed pelvis, broken back, severed tendons from being stepped on by a horse, and I’ve had two friends killed by horses. One was found dead when working with a horse that was bought at an auction and was not given the history with the horse — and I warned her a month or so before she died that I did not think she should trust him. The other was a wonderful guy I knew who raced harness horses and was in a bad wreck at Harrington Raceway a couple of years ago, a wreck that just didn’t seem that bad, but the way he landed I knew it wasn’t right, and the shocking news made all of us just stop in our tracks and think pretty hard about what we were doing, and why. I’d trained and jogged horses on that track, warmed up horses with the water trucks going around, had lots of exposure to danger on that very track.

Younger days when jumping big fences was fun

Younger days when jumping big fences was fun

I know, as we all do, that injuries heal, that time takes care of it, that it is what you accept if you work with large dangerous animals with a mind of their own. Somehow we keep putting that to the back of our minds and keep putting foot in stirrup. There are wise old men and ladies who foxhunt literally all of their lives and don’t ever get hurt. There are people who have had horses for nearly every minute of their awake life and don’t get hurt. Yet, there are people like Boyd Martin who seem to break a new bone each month. I wonder if it is that we are not very smart, or pushing it, or if things have changed so much that danger is now a real part of making a living with horses. Jump jockeys either die or end up paralyzed. Their sport is flat out dangerous. They don’t break things. Exercise riders die or break shoulders and heads. Jockeys die. Event riders break everything and they also die. Dressage riders hit their heads. Old ladies get crush injuries because we’re too slow to get out of the way of falling horses, not like when we are young and can roll.

I wish guys like Boyd Martin would not get hurt but just fall off. I wish they did not take such chances, push young horses, try to make the time, get one more length out of a horse when no one is really sure if the horse can get there or not. My BFF says that’s Aussies, they are all hard headed and think they can do anything better than a Yank, and to some extent, I have to agree with him. Lots of the Aussies I know are stubbornly talented horsemen who would ride anything and take any chance on a horse. Makes for great betting but bad for longevity! My best healing vibes are going out to anyone who is healing from an injury, including my own stupid self for walking into a wall completely unassisted. Best of luck to all of us, horse or horseless. May the best steel rod and screw job win.

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