A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The downside of the, well... the downside

So, I took a mighty impressive fall the other day.  In my history of falls, it really was only impressive because I blacked out.  I think that only happened because we had so much speed behind us.  But really, it wasn't that bad.

I mean, I wasn't thrown, I actually CHOSE to bail off the horse (before she met with the solid metal fence and put me between it and her).  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

You can see in this picture, the fence and the white trailer.  Yeah, that's exactly where she was headed to in a hurry.  This is also a good approximation of just how far she ran.   We started about where we are in this picture, and I bailed off just about 15 feet from the fence in the distance.

I'm not exactly sure why Amber chose to spook like that (I have some guesses).  I do know that I'm taking her back a step, and bringing her back up.  I do not blame her, I just realize that she "lied" to me about how advanced she really was.  The poor baby was putting on a brave face, and she really wasn't ready.  It was my fault.  I should have given her more time.  I totally read that situation wrong, and now I'll have extra training to make up for it.

And Amber is doing well.  She's a bit achy, has a minor sprain in her hind left, and a scrape on her front left, but nothing serious at all.  She's a bit sore all over, but enjoyed a bit of pampering.  She also walked right up to me, and was ready to try again.  That little girl is all heart. 

This time, it'll just be Jae, Amber, and me though.

I've done something similar before.  I mean very similar.  My first riding horse, Ash, decided that she wanted to sniff those funny blobby things on the top of the fence.  You know, the one that the smooth little wire goes through.  Yeah, the electric fence insulators!  I leaned over to see what had her interest, and saw the spark shoot INTO her nostril.  Yeah, talk about sitting and spinning.  Ash whipped around, and decided that she could cross the arena in 3 strides.  I was still learning how to ride a walk.  About half way across the arena, I let go, and leaned to the right.

My friends say it reminded them of a downhill snow skier.  My legs and arms went every where, and when I stopped moving, I was very very quiet.  Before they could make it over to me though, I jumped up and said "I have a bruise on my finger, that's ALL!".  I was laying still taking stock of all my body parts before I moved anything.

Then there's Dream.  A neighbor drove a tractor past us.  Not a little one, but one of those 20 foot mower beds, with the canvas covers, all flipped up so it fits on the road.  Yeah, you know, the industrial farm kind?  Of course, it hit a bump right beside the arena.  Of course it was my second ride on Dream.  Of COURSE she's bred to jump.

Man that filly put the Lippizanners to shame!  I have never seen airs like the ones she performed.  Sadly, I can't say I bailed off.  I simply had no horse near me!  I hit the ground HARD too (she is almost 16 hands, and was at least 4 feet in the air when I came off).  The driver stopped, Jae was in the barn and came to help, and it all ended up with a serious bruise in my pride... and my hip.



I can honestly say that Dream was my worst.  I had a serious limp for weeks after.  Amber was my most spectacular, but that's just because of the big audience.  I think my most serious injury was a stupid kid's trick which resulted in a broken arm at the age of 13.  With Dream though, I did have to get off her early on my third ride after the accident, because a car driving by gave ME the jitters, and I was setting us up for another accident.  Sadly, or gladly, I can't say that any of them scared me from horses.  In most cases I was ready to get back on right away.  In most cases I did get back on right away (tried when I broke the arm, which is when I saw the funny bent arm).  I think Amber is the only time I haven't even tried to get back on right after I fell off.

I could go on, but I'm dieing to know.... what's YOUR most spectacular fall ever?  How bad was it, and how long did it take you (if ever) to get back on a horse?

14 comments:

  1. Glad you're young enough to still bounce.

    Amber was terrified. I took her to the back of the arena, away from the ambulance, commotion, and other horses. She was shaking. When she's ready, maybe we can help build her confidence with some serious sacking out sessions with the scary tarps, etc. And definitely horses moving around her, except maybe you're holding her from the ground next time?

    I feel like Mater in the Disney-Pixar shorts "Mater's Tall Tales." "Yew should know, cuz yew wuz there, too!"

    It was months after my rodeo incident in May 2009 before I walked without a limp. I got right back on, but after that, I think I waited about a month to climb back on. My hip/leg still stiffens up if I sit too long. Even now, if I rub it deeply, I still get a twinge. Thank goodness for nature's padding on women's hips and thighs.

    I didn't think I was harboring fear, but in fact I was. That's why it felt as if I had lost everything I knew. I was choking up on the reins and hunching forward, which of course threw me off balance.

    Honestly, I completely understand why people don't ride again after a serious fall, especially people Nita's and my age.

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  2. Poor you and poor baby Amber! Sometimes things just come unglued, and you're right, with a good-natured horse who tries hard, it's possible to think they're farther along than they are, mentally.

    I've had lots of falls of varying seriousness. My worst one ever was when I was a teen and jumping cross-country obstacles in a big field on Peanut Butter - a wonderful Appaloosa that loved to jump. Our last jump, near the barn, was a big fixed obstacle. I let PB out a bit for a nice gallop to that fence, and when we were within about two strides of the fence, he tripped and disappeared out from under me. I was wearing a helmet, but it was one of those old-style ones that didn't really protect much, and besides it flew off anyway. I went head-first into one of the support uprights (set in concrete). I was out for about 10 seconds, and came to with PB sniffing my face - as soon as he figured out I was alive he took off. The scary part was that for a minute or so my arms and legs wouldn't move normally - they just flopped around - but then things were OK. My neck was stiff for weeks.

    That fall didn't affect my confidence (after all, I was about 15!), but getting kicked in the jaw by Dawn the summer before last really shook me. I'm pretty experienced around horses, but I did something really stupid and careless when I was in a hurry, and paid the price. I was pretty nervous around Dawn for a long time, but we're past that now and doing good stuff together - although Dawn's a horse you can't ever be casual around.

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  3. I've had two notable falls, when I was about 15 my Arab rubbed my right leg right on over her back and my left foot got hung in the stirrup. She drug me at a gallop about a 1/4 mile on a gravel road. I was so ticked off, and of course I rode her the 1/4 mile back. What made it bad was what I was wearing... jean shorts, tank top and cowboy boots, anywhere there is bare skin was bloody and gravel filled.

    The second notable was a few years ago, I was cantering Bonnie in the indoor arena. Just inside the arena door was an over turned bucket and about 10 kittens playing around it. We must of passed too close to the bucket because the kittens scattered, the bucket flew. When Bonnie spooked to the left, I clamped down with my legs to stay with her... I was wearing spurs. She stopped dead and bucked once hard. I went over her head Superman style... Managed to flip myself somehow so I landed on my lower back instead of face. Got back on Bonnie, walked once around, trotted once around, then cantered it. From there I went to docs because I seriously sprained (thought I broke it) my wrist.

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  4. Biggest/most spectacular fall was the one I mentioned in your last post. Richie, ducked out (spooked at a rabbit)and came back up bucking like a pro!I didn't make the first jump. Came down easy enough but I hit my elbow and it snapped back I blew the bones in my wrist apart on my own jaw.Also thw mare bucked towards me and jumped on me.Witnesses say I must have seen her coming because I usually tuck roll and spring back up, butr this time halfway through rolling I curled up and threw my hands over my head. I got up dusted off , took some advil and rode the mare agin then went to hospital. Unfortunaltly I do not ride that mare any more .I never did get over the feeling of not getting clear of the horse. .
    The mare was early poregnant at the time and it was likely an issue of hormones . but seeing as she raises beautiful quiet well put up babies she is doing that job and I am riding her progeny

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  5. Glad to hear you're ok. It sucks hitting the ground. I had a similar situation to what you did but I didn't bale off. We had a mare that we had ridden before with no problems but we she hadn't been with us for very long (not a young mare that had been used as a broodmare but supposedly had also been ridden). My daughter was riding my babysitter horse bareback (she was 12 at the time) and I tacked up the mare. I put my foot in the stirrup and swung my leg over when all hell broke loose. She did a pretty good impersonation of a bucking bronc and I hit the ground flat on my back and smacked my head. As I was sitting on the ground with an intense headache, the mare came back around to run me down. Daughter and awesome horse took off after her and cut her off like they were team penning. Broken helmet, horrible headache and mild concussion plus broken glasses and some minor bruises. I slurred my speech and had a hard time focusing for about a week and a half. Thank goodness for my daughter and Jet.

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  6. Leah, I've already decided that baby Amber is going to get a "Quiet" lesson first, to remind her that it really is just riding, and it's no big deal. I'm going to cheat though, and put Jae back on her lead rope. If she does lose it, he'll hold her long enough for me to bail safely. After that, we'll just test her limits and see what bothers her. But first, she needs a positive lesson that she can win at.

    And the rest of these stories... I'm sorry but some of ya made me giggle. I loved the clamping on the spooking horse... with SPURS! Oh, yeah, I could just see that.

    And breaking your wrist on your own jaw? Wow, that's some serious talent (and hopefully came with some serious pain killers!).

    Here's for being thankful that we're all still in love with horses, and still in one piece. I'm glad none of you were permanently (since some of you were seriously) hurt!

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  7. yup thats me! I pack a serious punch!lol

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  8. Oh and the pain meds? not really ! I am Canadian and they tend to just offer tylenol(which you may as well throw at the wall) I got by with Ice and Ibuprophen

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  9. A little late to this post, but I'm glad to see you feeling better and already on the mend. You're much braver than I am, for sure. Maybe it has to do with me being in my mid-40s and knowing that I don't bounce lightly after a fall, but it takes me a while after getting hurt by a horse, to want to ride again. I have to reach deeeeeeeeeeeeep inside to pull out some courage.....deper every time. That little seed to get back on ride is still there, though. I'm always a little surprised at that, actually.

    I've only fallen twice in my life. The first time was on a pony when I was about 8 years old. It bucked me off and then stepped on me. I only suffered a huge bruise, but got right back on and rode that wretched pony with no more issues.

    The second time was almost two years ago, on my first horse, Baby Doll. She was always b*tchy and moody and would do lots of unpredictable things. I think I got a little cocky riding her thinking I was able survive the bucks, spins, crow hops, bolting, running backwards, while never falling off.
    Time and fate has a way of catching up with you, though...and with horses, getting hurt seems to be given.

    On Christmas Eve I was on the way back home from a beautiful ride in the snow, and my neighbor's horse was investigating a deflated, inflatable snowman, while I was letting Baby Doll sniff a snow covered wagon wheel. Then all of sudden Baby Doll jumped about 6 feet sideways. Miraculously, I stayed on, but barely, and in s split second she jumped sideways again, even bigger....and basically, she zigged and I zagged...onto the ground.

    Baby Doll took off running.

    I landed on my butt and stood up. My knee was sore and I hobbled back to the house. Found Baby Doll standing beside the arena fence, shaking and afraid. I took her over to the electric post to remount and rode her around for about 15 minutes.

    Of course, remounting might not have been the best thing, because I mounted up on my right knee. And unbeknownest to me at the time, I had injured my ACL.
    By remounting, I probably severed it all the way and caused more damage.
    Knees aren't meant to zig and zag sideways. But I was still able to finish all the barn chores that night. The pain and inability to walk didn't happen until the next day. Christmas Day. And when I went in to have an MRI a few days later, they told me I'd need surgery to replace the destroyed ACL.
    That surgery and healing afterwards was more painful that giving birth to all 3 of my children. Horrible!

    Then just 5 months later when I getting ready to untie my mare to deworm her, she saw the tube and sat back...hard! She ripped the welds from the pipe fencing, and the top pipe slammed into my shoulder and threw me to the ground.
    The x-rays didn't show anything, but I couldn't put any weight on that knee at all. I figured I'd torn my ACL AGAIN!
    But no, an MRI, two weeks later showed that the same knee had a compound fracture on the tibial plateau! My Dr was so glad that I listened to my body and had used my crutches during that two weeks, because I would have needed surgery if I had placed too much weight on it and displaced all those fractured bones. gah!

    Last injury, most recent, you already know about...the kick in the face. I was very lucky with that one. But I still have vision problems and sometimes get dizzy. I hope someday that will improve. But it could have been so much worse, too.

    But I've not ridden Apache since she kicked me, partly due to fear, but mostly due to the fact that she's been lame off and on since July. I have my vet coming tomorrow to do some chiro/massage therapy so we can figure out what's going on and give Apache some relief.

    ~Lisa

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  10. Most embarrassing: slid off the bare back of the horse I learned to ride on, 'cause I was sitting "side-saddle" and broke my arm in several places (the dislocated elbow is now driving me crazy with arthritis). "Joe" was standing perfectly still! I just lost my balance.
    The other really bad accident was more wreck, than fall, 'cause I wasn't actually on her: I was 16 (I knew everything), and at the head of a young Arab mare, leading my little sister. She panicked, and in her rush forward, her leadrope got tangled in one or both of our legs. When she flipped over, she landed on top of me, and her momentum slid us through the gravel, on my face. Broke my left shoulder, and skinned my cheek badly, and tore off my ear (often, kids here at school tell me my glasses are tilted), but I was calm enough to direct my sister where to put everything away, and talk the only adult present (a little old lady with a heart condition) through calling 911, etc. I was in thehospital for a week, but less than two weeks later started riding my first jumper!
    Last summer's headers off of Maddie have probably had the most impact on my psyche, though. Twice in one day! At a show, in front of several of my students, parents, teachers, and my principal! Tweaked my back, but more shook my confidence. Maddie and I are more or less past it, but I'm much more likely to climb off these days, if a horse gives me a hard time...

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  11. I was "legged up" on a green horse for a first ride and he pulled the lead rope out of the handler's hands and bolted. We raced down the fenceline and he fell into the fence, pinning my leg under him. I had a hematoma on the inside of my knee the size of a nerf football cut in half lengthwise. It was three months before I could bend my knee and then I had the task of riding and training the silly horse. A year later he tried to bolt while I was out trail riding and I pulled him up short on a slope. He got unbalanced and fell, wearing a saddle this time, on my other leg. Again I spent three months convalescing. These were probably my most spectacular falls because 1. I got hurt and 2. I had an audience.

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  12. Oh and the pain meds? not really ! I am Canadian and they tend to just offer tylenol(which you may as well throw at the wall) I got by with Ice and Ibuprophen

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  13. Glad you're young enough to still bounce.

    Amber was terrified. I took her to the back of the arena, away from the ambulance, commotion, and other horses. She was shaking. When she's ready, maybe we can help build her confidence with some serious sacking out sessions with the scary tarps, etc. And definitely horses moving around her, except maybe you're holding her from the ground next time?

    I feel like Mater in the Disney-Pixar shorts "Mater's Tall Tales." "Yew should know, cuz yew wuz there, too!"

    It was months after my rodeo incident in May 2009 before I walked without a limp. I got right back on, but after that, I think I waited about a month to climb back on. My hip/leg still stiffens up if I sit too long. Even now, if I rub it deeply, I still get a twinge. Thank goodness for nature's padding on women's hips and thighs.

    I didn't think I was harboring fear, but in fact I was. That's why it felt as if I had lost everything I knew. I was choking up on the reins and hunching forward, which of course threw me off balance.

    Honestly, I completely understand why people don't ride again after a serious fall, especially people Nita's and my age.

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  14. This fall isn't my most spectacular...but it was my first and certainly the most ridiculous! It was at a little neighborhood place where I took my first lessons as a child. I was in second grade and I got to ride the bus home all by myself (instead of going to our after school care) one day a week and change for riding then walk down the road about half a mile to where I took lessons. At any rate, it was a younger girl teaching me (I know that now, at the time she seemed completely all grown up!), probably around 20 or so. The horse she taught me on was a 4 year old named Boo. Good sign, right? Actually Boo was pretty sweet, she was named that because she had these ridiculous eyes that always showed a bunch of white, like she was always having a nervous breakdown. ANYWAYS, we were trotting around on the longe line when she stopped to pee. Normal, okay, so we move on...but come back around and OH GOOD LORD WATCH OUT. THE FIZZY WHITE PUDDLE THAT CAME OUT OF MY VERY OWN BODY IS STILL THERE EVERYBODY RUN! She then proceeded to scoot herself forward in two quick lunges and then take a huge crow hop towards my instructor. I popped off and rolled a couple feet. I was fine, of course, but to this day I still find it hilarious that my first fall was after the horse I was riding spooked at her own pee. 

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