Horses can be dangerous. They spook. They get angry. They are big. Even quiet ones can trip and go down. If you’re unconscious, having your cell phone in your pocket won’t help you. The risks of riding were proven over this weekend.
I got to the barn on Friday afternoon with the intent of practicing backing up my trailer and loading PJ. My friend, Betsy, was there finishing up with her older horse and saddling up her young mare (coming 4 yo). She went down to the bottom outdoor ring and I went to the other side of the barn to where Barbara had set up a parking spot with poles for me. Everything was going great. I hooked up the truck to the trailer without crashing into the hitch. I backed into the parking space without too many tries, PJ got on after bribing with grain. I decided to drive up the hill to where I was going to park with PJ in the trailer and then practice loading some more up top – just to get in more practice. Of course, PJ pooped in the trailer, so I decided to throw him in his stall after unloading him (I also needed to get the shovel from the barn), cleaning the trailer, and then loading him again. It would be good to have the break in between. It was a good plan.
However, as I was leading PJ back to his stall I look over and see Betsy’s horse in front of her paddock without Betsy on her. I run to throw PJ back in his stall and find Betsy. As I’m heading out of the barn I see Betsy in the barn isle. Her arm is dripping blood and she’s very dazed. I order her to sit down and head out to get the mare, who was very agreeable to being caught and untacked. But on the crossties I couldn’t find her halter. It turned out that Betsy had been so confused, she had put away all of her stuff, took off her eventing vest and helmet (thank goodness she was wearing both), and was preparing to drive off! I finally got the horse put away, wrapped Betsy’s arm with some gauze, and lead her to my truck to take her to the hospital. I must have had divine help because it took me only two tries to perfectly back the trailer into it’s designated parking spot. I unhooked the trailer and off we went.
The entire time, Betsy kept repeating herself. She had no clue what had happened other than the ride had been going so well. She wasn’t even sure she had fallen off. She had no problem answering questions, like her name, who her insurance was, where she lived. But she told me the same story about work six times but didn’t remember that she even told it to me once.
After several hours, she started acting normal. She ended up being diagnosed with a concussion and a broken arm (the blood was from the bone breaking through the skin – yes, gross). Thankfully the CAT scan revealed nothing majorly wrong and she didn’t need surgery on her arm (at least not then – she’ll have a follow-up appointment on Wednesday). More than five hours later she was discharged with a splint, a prescription for antibiotics, and orders not to drive or be alone. Barbara offered to let her stay the night, which she took her up on.
As far as we can piece together, we think Betsy had finished her great ride. She released the contact and was heading back to the barn on a loose rein. The mare must have spooked at something and bolted, and because Betsey was lulled into a false sense of security by the perfect ride, she wasn’t prepared and off she went. Because I was on the other side of the farm and she can’t remember, we have no clue if she was unconscious or how long she had been wandering around on her own before I found her. Scary, but all’s well that end’s well, and she will be much more careful in the future.