I'm Thinking of Having T-Shirts Made...

As you may or may not know, I fell off the other day. Spectacularly. At a show. With lots of witnesses. I have the road rash and aches and pains to prove it. I also have a lovely video, courtesy of my husband, which shows my breech clad behind going up…uP…UP aaaaannnnnd OVER the fence, and sees me faceplant heavily on the other side.

The day after the fall, I had to go on a business trip. Many of my clients noticed my stiffness and the scrapes on my face, and asked what had happened. I told them, and even showed a few the video, which by this point, seemed kind of funny to me.

Clearly, the video is more impressive than I’d thought, as quite a few gasped with horror and then asked me if I ever thought I’d ride again.

HUH? Not ride again? The thought never crossed my mind. I mean, I do get it — the fall could easily have been catastrophic. Thankfully, it wasn’t. However, I’d wager I’ve had more potentially dangerous “close calls” on the highway. Seriously, has anyone been on the road in Jersey lately??

When I said that I planned to get back on as soon as possible, some asked if I was really comfortable risking myself when I had a family and kids to consider. While I concede my well-meaning acquaintances have a point, I know for a fact that some of them have habits and/or passions that can have adverse affects on one’s health.

Mountain climbing and mountain biking come to mind. Skydiving, too. Heck, drinking, smoking and eating lots of rich food (prevalent trade show behavior) has been said to shorten one’s life span. Granted, I get the short-term versus long-term differences between impaling one’s self headfirst into the dirt as opposed to overindulging, but let’s face it, either one poses risks.

So I’ve been thinking: Would I ever stop riding? Probably not. Anyone who knows me and cares about me knows I’m much happier (and thus much easier to live with!) when I’m riding, and no one close to me has asked me to give it up. Of course, I don’t want to put my family in a situation tat would upset them, either.

Certainly countless other riders, most of whom better riders than I, have had horrific falls and suffered grave injuries, only to rebound and ride successfully again. I know what I did wrong, and will take all possible steps to eradicate the habit. Can we agree that riding possesses inherent risk, but when all precautions are taken, is not drastically more risky than driving, flying, or many other sports activities?

What WOULD make me hang up my helmet? Age and decrepitude, I hope, although recent stories in the Chronicle of the Horse and Dressage Today give me hope that I’ll be riding into my advanced old age.

However, as the week progressed, I noticed the aches and pain becoming more pronounced, and when I turned my neck it made sounds much like those in the Rice Krispies cereal commercial ( you know, Snap, Crackle, and Pop?) and I felt shooting pains.  I made an appointment with my chiropractor when I got home, and the x-rays he took showed a potential problem in the ondontoid process and the ligaments connected to it.  Problems that could be potentially serious.  He sent me to an orthopedic specialist, who listened to my story and sent me on a direct route to the ER for more x-rays and a CAT scan.

Many hours later, and multiple explanations to many different nurses (poor things) – No, I did not NEED a urine test for pregnancy as I’d had a hysterectomy in this hospital 2 years ago.  It’s on my file and we talked about it twice already – may we proceed to the x-ray part of the fun now, please?  Was actually walking out the door when they decided the forgot to get a particular (and crucial) view, so had to turn around and start again.  Sigh…

Long story somewhat shorter: I’m fine, just a severely sprained neck and some wicked spasms. I’d planned to ride tonight, but thought better of it and have loaded up on the rhino-strength muscle relaxer and pain-killer so that I will be more ready to ride tomorrow.  You do NOT want to know what the doctor’s face looked like when I mentioned my plan to him.  What can I say, he doesn’t get it.

So yes, even thought the Orthopedic doctor put the fear of God in me today, at the first sign of a silver lining I was planning my next ride.  Dedication?  Sickness?  Addiction?  Insanity?  Yep.  But you know what?  I don’t care.  It is what it is. I ride, and will do my best to keep riding until they have to throw my lifeless body over my horse and transported me whatever hole in the ground they’ve chosen to drop me in.

What, if anything, would make you stop riding?