Thursday, June 10, 2010

Just a Spoonful of Sugar

Sing it with me:

A Spoonful of sugar...or Dove Chocolate...helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-wown
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar...or Dove Chocolate...helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way!

I took my first spill off of a horse in more than 25 years.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I wasn't expecting it to hurt so badly and warrant a visit to the hospital.

Yesterday I took a day off work so Marley and I could go on our first trail ride of the season. I was looking forward to this ride, as I'd heard of this nice park with thoughtfully planned trails designed for equestrians. Unfortunately, we didn't last 5 minutes.

I went with a group of four other ladies. We had been on the trail for only a few minutes when we rounded a bend in the trail and discovered a big open space before us, surrounded by trees and buttes. We were all exclaiming how beautiful it was, when suddenly a loud, low-flying helicopter came swooping over a nearby ridge, down into the valley where we were riding, and buzzed right over us, scaring all 5 horses who were fresh from just starting the ride.

Marley started to bolt and run. I tried to employ the 1-rein stop I had been practicing, but he got his head down and started bucking repeatedly until he dumped me.

Thank goodness I was wearing a helmet. I put it on every time I ride, thinking I'll never really need it, but being sensible and cautious. I'm so accustomed to wearing it now, I would feel uncomfortable without it. But here is a case when I really did need it.

I always thought the visor on my helmet was just decorative or to provide a little bit of sun shade, but I discovered it has a more important purpose. I would have done a face plant into the hard ground, but my visor made impact first, sparing me from even a tiny scratch on my face. However, I did smack my head pretty hard and had an instant headache followed by dizziness. I'm sure it would have been much worse had I not been wearing a helmet, because I basically landed on my head.

I was embarrassed and disappointed and hated adding drama to a ride that had barely begun. My kind friend escorted Marley and me back to the parking lot, while we wished for the others to go on and enjoy their ride.

I was really hoping this would be a summer filled with trail riding with both Misty and Marley. We've been preparing, but you can't anticipate everything that can happen on a trail ride. How on earth can you prepare to be buzzed by a helicopter? That is just a freak thing. I hate to think someone would do that deliberately, but I do believe this was a mischievous, mean-spirited pilot out joy-riding and getting his kicks by scaring horses with his helicopter. He was flying way too low and flew right over us.

My friend graciously gave up her trail ride and drove Marley and me home. I was still dizzy and had an aching head, so my step-daughter drove me to the Emergency Room where I was examined and given a CT Scan. The radiologist found no bleeding in my brain and no indication of a serious problem. The ER doc said I got my bell rung, but that my helmet was my saving grace.

I still have a slight headache, my back is aching, I've pulled a muscle in my abdomen, my legs are sore and I'm hobbling around kinda funny like. This ole body doesn't bounce like it did in younger years. So I took a sick day from work to recover from my vacation day, intermittently napping and watching TV, and chasing my regularly scheduled Percocet pain killer with Dove chocolate. I figure if the Percocet doesn't do the trick, the chocolate will.

Now comes the challenge of getting back in the saddle, working through the fear, and trying to learn from the experience so I can handle future riding challenges better. I wonder if I could have done something different. I probably need to be more aggressive with my 1-rein stop. Maybe I need to swap Marley's snaffle bit for something with a little more leverage. I don't know. It happened so fast. But next time I hear or see a helicopter, I'm going to dismount immediately.

And now it is time for another nap.

I'm grateful for well designed riding helmets and good friends and family who looked after me.


  1. Oh, Once Upon!!!!! This is terrible news! I am so sorry, but glad you and Marley and the other riders and horses are ok. What a stupid jerk in the helicopter. We have the same problem with low flying aircraft. It was certainly a freak think and Marley was sincerely scared so you know he wasn't being truly bad. How can horses ever understand a huge flying thing that is loud and in the air? Poor you, poor Marley. I hope you are able to muster the courage to try again. And, try again in the same lovely valley, probably with the same tack and friends. That way you and Marley can slowly, calmly see and understand that it is ok. Even if you have to walk him calmly in that field for awhile then slowly climb on and walk quietly. You can do it. Good luck. Have your husband or a friend lead you. It will be ok. Feel better. Eat chocolate, rest, get better, groom and kiss up your Marley boy and Misty girl. They want you to have nice, safe rides too. They are on your team! Try not to get frightened.

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  3. Oh my gosh Once Upon! I'm so sorry. In Canada, buzzing an animal like that is illegal. It can be hard to see herds and people from a chopper but I'd have to agree with you - it sounds like that was intentional.

    Take as much time as you can to do nothing at all. Well, nothing but eat Percocet and chocolate (I too learned they work better together after my car accident, lol). You'll heal better in the long run that way.

    I feel bad for Marley too. Who can blame the poor guy? It's truly amazing no one else got hurt. I'm glad you're going to be ok.

  4. Sorry to hear you had this accident. I don't know what brand your helmet is but Troxel will replace one of their helmets for free after an impact. According to them the helmet is no longer effective after such an impact.

    After working in a tack store for several years I learned such odd facts and believe me when I did a face plant like that I got a new helmet so that I could be sure I'd be effectively protected should it ever happen again.

    Hope you feel better soon. Enjoy your Dove's chocolates. They are among my favorites.

  5. Oh no!! I'm so sorry! What a jerk, they should track him down and give him the hospital bill.

    Glad your injuries weren't more serious. Take your time, you'll be back to it...

  6. Oh nooooo! How terrible! But I am sooooooo glad you had your helmet on, I've been saved by mine plenty of times too. Do go get a new helmet, the foam in yours is now compressed and won't do a good job next time (not that we want there to be a next time, but...). Get some rest, you'll be back out there again soon. It's hard to pull those thick pony necks around, don't feel bad!

  7. You got it absolutely right when you said it was a freak accident. The freak was in the copter. What a clueless jerk! I hope you know, though, that fall had nothing to do with you or Marley. All the riding in the world can't protect us completely from idiots like that. And when horses are frightened, you know flight will almost always beat might. I'm just thankful neither of you were hurt.

  8. I just heard that our helicopter incident has been reported to the park ranger and that they received another complaint about the same helicopter. I also found some info about a member of the trails committee finding a helicopter parked ontop of a butte (off limits to public) in that same park with the pilot and his girlfriend fooling around on a blanket. Probably the same guy...some yahoo who thinks that area is his personal playground for his helicopter antics.

    Thanks Juliette. I will probably go riding on a trail I've had good experiences on and then go back to this particular park with friends later. I'm trying to forgive Mr. Marley. I just hope it didn't register with him as a good way to get rid of a rider so he can snack on grass.

    RuckusButt, maybe percocet should be coated in chocolate and marketed like Reeces Peanut Butter Cups. I'm trying to give Marley the benefit of the doubt. But that little tank has quite a buck in him. Hope he doesn't share it with me again anytime soon. That's the first time he has bucked with me. I'm not sure if he started out scared, then just got ornery when I wouldn't let him run.

    RisingRainbow, I have a Troxel and I'm sure pleased with it now. I'm shopping for a new one already. I may go for one of the bright jewel colors this time. My Troxel has always felt very comfortable. Thanks for the info. I wish I had saved my receipt for the helmet.

    Thanks Breathe. I hope they find him too. I don't know how they can prove he is doing this or if there are altitude restrictions over an open space area like that, but hopefully they can stop him. This particular park will only be attracting more and more riders (its fairly new) and he will cause more problems if they don't stop him.

    Thanks eventer79, I still get flack from some people about wearing a helmet. They say 'oh you don't need one, you just need to know how to land and roll.' Easier said than done. I'll stick with my helmet because I really hope I don't have frequent opportunities to practice landing and rolling. I'm shopping for a new one....with a visor again. I have a new appreciation for visors.

    Thanks MuddyK, "freak in the copter"..good description! I'm tyring to tell myself how unusual this was and not let it prevent me from enjoying future trail rides. Just unfortunate it was the first ride of the season. I hope they find the guy. He should lose his pilot's license....if he's got one.

  9. How scary! I'm so sorry this happened, and I do hope they are able to reprimand the pilot. So thankful you weren't hurt worse. Unbelievable the stupid things people do without thinking how it effects others. It's sad.

    Glad you have a good circle of friends, and family. I'm sure Marley didn't do it intentionally, he stopped thinking clearly out of true fear. I know it's easy to say, and not to do - but your trust will build back up. Take it slow, and ask for help if needed. Feel better soon.

  10. You are right in that there is so much that you can't prepare a horse for. I carry binoculars with me on trail rides. If I had a horse that was in control of itself, I would have whipped those out and got a number off that helicopter and sued the pants off the guy. At first I thought you were going to say that the helicopter was landing in the clearing, but it sound like he was just pulling a dangerous stunt. I'm sorry your trail riding season had to start off this way. I hope the pain subsides soon.

  11. Man, I had 'scheduled' a 'sick' day for tuesday so that I could go riding (its a mental health day, so i don't feel too terrible calling it a sick day). Hopefully I won't need a legit sick day to recover from my first trail ride of the year!

    Feel better soon and share that chocolate!

  12. What a fabulous idea....let's patent some chocolate coated meds! Maybe even a layer of caramel, then chocolate - yum! Hmmm, you could even do some mint.
    Glad you are feeling better.
    I've been thinking about Marley bucking....with his thick neck and short body, he can probably get cranked up faster than bigger, lankier guys. He is to horse antics what Mary Lou Retton (oops, showing my age) was to gymnastics!

  13. Thank-you Aurora. I'm feeling better today; soreness is easing up.

    NuzMuz, binoculars are a good idea. I have some small ones that would fit easily in my saddle bag. Yeah, I think the guy buzzes horses on purpose.

    Rachel, enjoy your mental health day. You've been working a lot and you deserve it. Hope your is pleasant and absent of helicopters.

    Dreaming, I'm doing much better today, thanks. I giggle now thinking of Marley and Mary Lou together. I think if I ever got a female Fjord I'd have to call her Mary Lou.

  14. Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that you were dumped and hurt. Stupid helicopter pilot. This happened to my daughter and I one time. We boarded across the street from an airport. One day I was on my big spooky guy Erik and she was on a young horse she was training, this guy actually came low over the arena (to take a look or have some fun). We managed to position the horses very close to one another and hold onto them until this jerk left. It was scary for all of us. Being next to an airport was no fun especially on Sundays when the big balloons went up over our fields, the horses were petrified, made for some interesting horse shows too.

    I'm glad to hear your recuperating with Dove chocolate(the silver lining in all this?) I don't know if they sell it by you but Dove makes a delicious pint of ice cream with their dark chocolate skin on top before you get down to the creamy goodness. You owe it to yourself. Feel better.

  15. That is just awful! I sure hope they find who did (is?) doing this!

    Falling off is such a nasty deal, regardless of age, but especially when we're older. I hope you'll feel better soon and get back up on Marley for a great return ride that will bring your confidence level back to where it was, or at least close to it. Try to remember that it took a helicopter at low levels to toss you and that Marley still loves, trusts and respects you. You've got a great horse there!

  16. Yikes! I just came upon your blog and this posting was the first I read of yours! Sounds like you are one tough cookie as that would be a tough ride for anyone!

    Hope you're back on your feet and back in the saddle soon...hopefully without becoming an addict ~ of chocolate that is lol

  17. Wow helicopter buzzing... I'm sorry you and Marley had to experience that, especially first time out this season.

    Just remember Marley was truly scared and doing what comes natural (even the bucking). He's a good boy and I bet he's on his best the next time you go out.

    Feel better soon!

  18. I have some small ones that would fit easily in my saddle ba
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  19. Grey Horse, I found the Dove Chocolate ice cream bars. Have been holding out, but I'm weakening. They'll be in my basket next trip to the store.

    Life+Horses, Marley is a great little horse. Unfortunately there will be not return ride on him. Some changes coming, as I've learned more about his history. Thanks, though, I'm feeling better. Aches and pains are gone.

    JeniQ, yes Marley was very scared. He just needs a stronger rider at those times to get him through it.

    achieve1dream, thanks. All ok thanks to a good helmet and a short fall off the 13.2hh little tank.

  20. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear of your fall, but I'm glad you didn't suffer any major injury. Take your time getting back in the saddle and pay attention to what your body is telling you...if it hurts, pay attention!

  21. OH! Don't feel embarrassed about a spill! Any horse could do that because of a helicopter!! It was an impossible situation! Once a hot air balloon floated over my horse'S pasture and my usually calm and mellow mare had an ENORMOUS freak out. I'm sure if I had been on her, I would have gone flying.