Sunday, August 16, 2009

Four Years and Counting

Today marks four years since I broke my back. It was a riding accident (of course). A horse bolted on me, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I've fallen off more times than I care to remember, but this was the first time I ever hit the ground and stayed there. A friend of mine who witnessed the whole thing came and got me up. I could walk, but I knew something wasn't right. I knew I was going into shock, and I knew I needed to go to the hospital, so naturally my first concern was getting my boots off. No way was I letting the hospital cut them off!

I had put several compression fractures into my left pelvic bone and had several more in my L5 vertebra (lower back). I had also managed to crush or sever most of the nerves in that part of my back. My left leg was left mostly numb. I could still move my left leg around, but I had no finesse since I couldn't really feel what it was doing.

At the time, I was the barn manager for a dressage training facility. My dream was to make a career for myself with horses. After my injury I couldn't keep up with the demand of the professional pace and had to step down from the position I'd worked so hard for. I was devastated.

I thought that I would never be the same again. My desire to ride was still there, but my broken body wouldn't cooperate. Sometimes the pain would get so bad that I would sit on my horse and cry. There were times when I couldn't even dismount because of my weakness. I questioned myself every day. What was I doing? My position was terrible and the weakness in my back had made my half-halt non-exisitent. I was in pain every time I rode, and even worse after riding.

Unfortunately, I couldn't shake my addiction. And I've always been too stupid to give up, anyway. Fortunately, I managed to find a group of people to help me recover. I began seeing a physical therapist to help me regain the muscles I had lost and I began seeing a chiropracter to keep my joints in place until my muscles recovered enough to keep them there. And from them I learned that, while my ligaments and joints would never be the same, I could learn to use my muscles to pick up the slack. It ended up being a good thing. Because I know that my joints are bad, I pay much more attention to my posture. I began practicing Yoga and Pilates. I still limp, I tend to trip when I'm tired and the left leg is still a bit numb, but I'm in better shape than most of the college-age kids I work with.

I often reflect on that day. I have played the scene over and over again, looking for something I could have done differently that wouldn't have resulted in injury. But every time I realize that it was just a fluke, a silly accident that could have happened to anyone at any time. It could have been much worse. I was lucky. Even though it was a hard road to get here, I ride just as well now as I did before my injury. And now I know just how strong I am. You can throw me down, but you can't keep me there.


  1. Your post is very inspirational - you are very much to be congratulated on all your hard work and determination.

  2. Thank you. I honestly can't imagine my life without horses, so giving up just wasn't an option. And, like I said, I'm too stupid to quit, anyway! :)

  3. OMG I love your blog. This post made my cry, you are truly an insperation! I am also a first time mummy (I have a 6 months old boy)and I too find it sooo difficoult to ride my dressage horse, work and ofcourse be a good mummy and a wife. But if you can do it, inspite your injury and all, well, than we all can!

    Sarah from SLovenia


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