Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reality Check

by Laura Crum

I’ve written before about fear issues, but today I want to write about something different. Today I want to write about how genuinely dangerous horses are, and how most of the time we ignore or forget about this.

Yesterday a good friend of mine called me and told me that a mutual friend, a very experienced horseman, had come off a horse and broken eight ribs, his shoulder, and a leg. This man had just recovered from a horse wreck several years ago that had broken his leg in three places. He is in his sixties. Its easy to say that he shouldn’t be riding horses that might dump him, but, in fact, the horse that off-loaded him was a gentle horse that just hadn’t been ridden much lately due to the lousy weather. It spooked at a cow—and he came off hard and landed badly.

Boy oh boy did this hit home with me. My gentle horse has sometimes been livelier than usual when we ride—because he hasn’t been ridden more than one or two days a week on average all winter and spring—it just keeps on raining. Still, I make the basic assumption that all our broke horses will behave reasonably well—they always have. And that’s fine as far as it goes. But they’re just horses, after all, and any horse that is feeling good is capable of dumping the rider. The trouble is that being dumped can be so serious.

Jami posted awhile ago about Courtney King-Dye, the Olympic caliber dressage rider who came off the young horse she was schooling, hit her head, and was in a coma for many weeks. I’ve been checking Courtney’s website for the updates her husband reports. Last I read, Courtney could speak, but had great difficulty walking and using her right hand. No one knows how long it will take or how much she can come back from this. As much as I admire this woman’s determination and positive spirit, I can’t help feeling the extent of the tragedy.

Easy to say, again, that she should have worn a helmet. But a helmet wouldn’t have helped my old friend, whose injuries were not about his head. And we all wonder how much this older man will be able to come back and lead a normal life. The friend who told me the story, another man in his sixties who has ridden all his life and is currently having his knee operated on due to being bucked off six months ago, said, only half jokingly, that he might never get on a horse again.

Helmets are certainly a good idea (says me who doesn’t wear one), but the only child I knew who was killed by a horse was killed in an English riding lesson, in an arena, wearing a helmet. A ridden horse kicked at the horse she was on and broke her neck. Christopher Reeve broke his neck while wearing a helmet. Helmets will not protect us against all horse related injuries.

Every single time I contemplate how many people get seriously hurt and/or killed on horses, I wonder why in the world I continue legging my little boy up on his horse. Maybe we should just take up soccer, like the rest of America.

And yet, I have ridden my whole life and never so much as broken a bone, let alone anything worse (knocking on wood). I’ve come off maybe a dozen times in my life (mostly back when I was training colts). Nothing more dire happened than I had the wind knocked out of me. I was out cold once when my first horse kicked me in the head. That about covers it.

Now days I stick to riding gentle, reliable horses, and, of course, this greatly reduces the odds of getting hurt. But as yesterday’s phone call illustrates, even a gentle horse can spook. And if you happen to come off wrong, the consequences can be dire.

My little boy has come off once in his life. He has been riding non-stop since he was two—first in front of me in the saddle, then on his leadline pony, then riding alone on first the pony and now his horse. I spent a lot of money on the older gelding that he rides, who is the single most reliable horse that I personally know of. My son has covered lots of rough country, loped many circles, gathered cattle, had his horse be a touch fresh. He came off when Henry spooked slightly one day. Ironically, it was when we were rehabbing the horse from colic surgery and I was hand walking him. My son was riding bareback and lost his balance. My little boy had the wind knocked out of him—nothing worse. Knocking on wood. Cause it could be much worse.

I truly believe that owning and riding horses has been a great blessing for my child. He’s learned coordination, determination and compassion, let alone enjoyed the delight and thrill of being carried along by a horse that riding gives us all. I’ve been told that horseback riding is the number one therapy for kids with developemental issues. I believe it. And if so, think how theraputic it must be for all of us (and I have certainly experienced this). But the downside haunts me.

Just yesterday we had another little boy over to play. I asked the mom if she would like me to give her son a ride on Henry. She hesitated. Then she said, “We have a thing about horses in our family. My older sister was killed when she fell off a horse. She was twenty-two.”

Well, OK, then. I immediately said that there was absolutely no reason for her to put her child on a horse and that I wouldn’t mention it to the kids. But she decided that she did want her son to ride Henry. Her boy wore a helmet, as does my kid, and both had a wonderful time. I’ve never seen such lit up eyes. Henry behaved perfectly for both boys, walking and trotting quietly for my little boy, and also for our visitor (this time on the lead rope—I am truly very cautious with beginner kids), who had never ridden before. My son demonstrated a half dozen circles at the lope, which Henry did beautifully. I was tickled. But still…the dire consequences of the downside of horses were driven home to me once again.

There is no particular answer to this conundrum. I love horses; I love to ride. I’m not ready to quit. My son and I had a couple of great rides this last weekend. It was sunny for once (though its raining again now), and both horses were perfectly behaved. Nothing could be farther from tragedy than our smiling faces, loping along in the spring sunshine, with all the roses in bloom and the air full of that sweet scent. It seemed idyllic. But it is a truly dangerous sport. No more dangerous than driving down the highway, my horse loving friend tells me. Well, maybe that’s true. I don’t know the statistics. So, I’m here to ask you. Does anyone else struggle with this? Or am I the only one who is sometimes “boggled” by the downside of horses? Especially when it seems that so many around me, some much more accomplished horsemen than I am, have been so badly hurt. And especially when I think of my son. Any thoughts?


Shanster said...


Laura I just got off the phone last night with the woman who teaches me tracking with my dog. She has reining horses and wants me to come to her house and meet her for a trail ride.

I have to say I'm feeling like the biggest weenie lately.. shaken confidence with Rosso which has lead to me thinking about the dangers or riding lately...

I'll take my mare cuz my confidence isn't so good with the gelding yet tho' I'm still working at it.

This woman has a free roaming large pot bellied pig at her house... I know my mare's never seen one of those before... I know this woman will want to ride off thru her herd of horses...and my mare is low man on the totem pole so being swarmed by a bunch of strange horses is going to be interesting to say the least...

I keep feeling like should do MORE than just ride in arenas and in the open spaces/green areas at the barns I clinic at... but to tell you the truth I'm pretty nervous.

If I'm truly uncomfortable and think things are not going well I won't go.. I'll let this woman think I'm a huge yeller chicken and take my mare home.

I think once OUT, Sera would be o.k. but shrug, I've never really ridden trails with her.

The landscape is flat and wide open - I told the woman she'd have to take it easy on me since I haven't been on trails for a long, long galloping about, no steep inclines or declines, no picking thru boulders...

and now this post? Ay yi yi. (nervous grin)

Epona - Horse and the City said...

I have the same thoughts as well. I don't have a child but I am definitely very cautious and sometimes fearful for myself and my friends or family around horses.
I had a wonderful TWH I really trusted with my life. He took care of my the best he could, but I was really stupid with him sometimes. I would jump on his back in the field with the herd (no helmet, no bridle, no halter, no nothing) and gallop him across the 40 acre pasture. We were never hurt until I did this on a girls riding weekend in the mountains. I hopped on him bareback, just warming him up, and he spooked and bolted. I lost my balance and landed on my back and head on a gravel road. I have the scars but I was very lucky I didn't have a serious injury. Since then, I've always worn a helmet. Even though I want to feel the wind in my hair like that again...I can't take the risk. It was too scary.
I now have a horse that's gentle but certainly very spooky and unpredictable at times. I hate to say it, but sometimes he really does scare me and I hate that feeling. I don't want to get hurt, but I certainly don't want my husband or friends to get hurt I am very cautious when they are around him. My husband rode my old horse all the time, but I am too afraid to let him ride this one. I wonder sometimes if there's anything I can do about it or if I should try and find another horse...I'm just too in love with him though.
I hate being overly cautious...but you just have to be when dealing with horses...

wilsonc said...

I think about this subject a lot. I've only come off my horse 3 times, but two of those times I broke bones. Still...sitting there in the dirt waiting for help I've always known I would get back on again. All three times I've smacked my head hard and all three times I was wearing a helmet. My husband now rides and most of the time he won't wear a helmet. If something happens and he ends up with a head injury I wonder how I'm going to feel about getting him into horses in the first place. Yes, I understand that the helmet decision is all on him, but I'm the one who introduced him to riding. There are risks both in the saddle and on the ground with horses. I guess I accept those risks because of what horses give back to me and because when I am riding I've never felt more alive.

horsegenes said...

I try not to think about it. I am cautious and don't just go off with recklss abandon. I have been in situations that I think "dear God, please don't let me fall off and hit my head".

I am one of those people that believe when your numbers up, that's it. Whether it be by horse, car, disease, etc. I would rather live my life enjoying the positive experiences and not dwelling on the "what ifs".

Francesca Prescott said...

Laura, I know EXACTLY what you mean about ignoring/forgetting how dangerous horses can be. I had a serious accident about ten years ago when my 4 year old Dutch warmblood reared, twisted in the air and threw me off. I shattered my "tête de l'humerus" (pardon my French : it's the bone slotting from your arm into your shoulder - no idea what it's called in English) and narrowly escaped him falling on top of me. No, I wasn't wearing a helmet. My left shoulder was so badly smashed it was inoperable and my doctor said I'd never lift my arm again...but after months of immobilization, physiotherapy and Pilates, I proved him wrong.

I lost my nerve after that fall. I sold my horse and stopped riding for seven years, only starting again three years ago when the equestrian bug bit me again thanks to my daughter's increasing passion for horses. We then bought Kwintus as a 15 year-old; this time I wanted a "safe", sweet-natured schoolmaster, not an inexperienced youngster. Kwint is mega laid-back, knows all the fancy stuff, and has never once misbehaved.

However, he's so laid-back that he tends to almost go to sleep while we're on trail rides, nor is he the most surefooted horse. A couple of weeks ago, he took me by surprise when he fell on his knees while we were plodding along a trail. He didn't hurt himself (I don't think he even noticed!!!), I didn't hurt myself, so no biggie, but it scared me none the less. I hack him out in knee pads now, like an eventer! Of course, I should wear a helmet, but I rarely do - usually only when it's raining.

But it's not only riding that can be dangerous, handling them is risky too. Eighteen months ago, my daughter sustained second degree burns when Kwintus backed out of our van far too quickly and whipped the lead rope through her hands. We spent five hours in the ER... I'd have given anything to take her pain away.

I think I'll always stick to riding gently, well-trained, reliable horses; looking back at some of crazy things on relatively green horses I did when I was...well...greener myself makes my hair stand on end.

Great post, Laura.

xx Francesca

lopinon4 said...

Good post!

On my steady eddy, it rarely crosses my mind how powerful he is, how much a fall could hurt me, etc. On other horses, I sometimes get that little nudge of reality. For the most part, I think the absolute thrill of this is what keeps us coming back for me. We DO know, down deep, that nature doesn't intend for us to ride these animals, and that we are putting our lives in danger by simply being near an animal this large. That's why it takes passion.

I have a client who is such a lovely rider, and very competent in all equine areas. I've been working with her and her 3/4 Arab for a year now. I only found out last weekend that her step-father (a very accomplished rider and horsemen) was killed in a terrible riding accident when she was in the 2nd grade. She had mentioned her step dad and step brothers, the beautiful Morgans they trained and showed, but had never shared with me this tragic story.

I asked her if she was afraid to ride after that. She said she wasn't. She did say that because she was taking a shower when her step dad died, for years she was afraid to take a shower or bath unless her mom was home because she was afraid her mom would die, too.

I have broken a few bones, sprained just about everything, and have had several bad concussions from riding horses. It has never occurred to me that I should quit. I have never wondered if that was strange for me to feel that way. Now I do! :)

Anonymous said...

This is something many of us think about a lot, I think. I've been fortunate in my riding so far (many, many years) to have fallen off many times and never been seriously hurt. My daughters have both had lots of falls, and so far the same for them although there have been some close calls, usually involving falling under or in front of a moving horse. Some of the close calls were too close for comfort - one daughter came off her horse in jumpers and fell under the horse as it was landing - the horse whacked her across the face with one or maybe two feet - my daughter had a bloody nose and looked pretty badly scraped and bruised up for a couple of weeks. My other daughter came off on the trail in front of her horse and was clocked in the back of the head (damaging her helmet) by a foot. I've had a horse fall with me going cross country, and I went head first into the jump and was unconscious and then unable to move when I came to for a few (long) moments.

We never, ever ride without a helmet, and I even wear one sometimes when I do groundwork if things are likely to be exciting. Helmets don't prevent all injuries, but they can prevent or help with some of the worst ones.

My confidence isn't what it used to be - I pretty much used to be comfortable riding almost any horse, but I had some inner ear trouble a couple of years ago that affected my balance and made me more cautious - I think the balance issue is OK now . I also was kicked at close range in the jaw by one of our horses last fall (due to some amazing stupidity on my part) and was very lucky not to have any fractures, although I did get a concussion and had some significant dental damage.

The horses we have aren't steady eddies - they're challenges for even experienced riders to work with. Do I think about these things? Yes. Do I try to take appropriate precautions? Yes - I pay attention to what the horse is saying and if things look like they're heading for a meltdown I get off or otherwise change the program. Do I love riding? Yes. Will I keep riding despite the risk? Yes - I'm close to 60 and may not have that many years left of riding the type of horses I prefer to work with.

The risks are going to be there, even with supposedly bombproof horses - all we can do, I think, is to learn as much as we can and develop our riding skills to the extent possible, and made sure we're not pushed by trainers or peer pressure to ride outside our personal comfort zone. And if that means we don't ride, or get our horse fix in some other way - grooming or just hanging out with horses, that's OK by me - I expect to be there due to old age if nothing else at some point.

Thanks for the excellent post.

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--I'm sorry- I wasn't thinking about undermining anybody's confidence--and I do know just what you mean. Though I have spent the last few years riding the trails near my home, which can be pretty challenging, I still go through periods of being afraid to get out there. I start thinking about all the what ifs. I totally second you that you need to keep tuned in with your comfort level--if it doesn't feel right, just don't do it. My trail riding friend is very bold, which is good in a way, cause he'll give me a lead by anything. But sometimes I have to be pretty firm that such and such an obstacle is just not one I want to deal with and we're turning around now. Let me know how it goes.

Epona and Wilsonc--I, too, am so much more cautious now than I used to be. I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Kel--I wish I was more able to ignore "what if". I do ride a lot, including solo on the trails, but the what ifs plague me. They detract from my fun somewhat, but they also make me very thoughtful about my choices. Knocking on wood here, but I haven't actually come off a lot even though I've ridden all my life and once rode a lot of young horses. So maybe being a worrier has its uses.

Francesca, your comment really touched me. It illustrates everything I dwell on, how badly one can be hurt, the fear issues around that, the love of riding (especially with one's child), the fact that even the gentlest horse can hurt us by falling, if nothing else (I once hit the ground when a very gentle gelding fell down at the slow lope in a well groomed arena; the horse somersaulted forward and narrowly missed landing on me--and he was as bombproof as they come), and most of all not being able to bear the idea of my kid being hurt due to my love of horses. Thank you for your insights. There is no real answer, I know, but surely its good to be aware.

lopinon4--I go along not thinking about it, too, and then something will happen, like the friend calling me yesterday, that brings it all back up.

Kate--thank you for saying to be "sure we're not pushed by trainers or peer pressure to ride outside our personal comfort zone." That was a big lesson that I had to learn as I got older. Its something I think is really important.

Nikker said...

I read this and thought about it a bit as I hauled my horse home from a vet check up. I am actually more concerned about my safety when I'm hauling my horse than when I am riding. The what ifs on the road make my blood preasure rise a wee bit.
But all in all, I agree with Kel. When its your time, its your time. I always use caution, a saftey first approach, and good horsmanship when handling my horses...but really don't think much about the why's I guess.
I ride alone a lot and always carry my cell phone, but ride helmetless. Not because I don't think they are worthwhile, but because I never have...that doesn't mean I never will. But for now its a base ball cap or the wind in my hair.
I know that my thought process has nothing to do with not ever being hurt as I have had a few pretty good horse wrecks. One requiring a surgical fix and others requiring ER visits, slings, and time off from the saddle.
My opion may change if I ever have a child, but I can't say. I do know that if/when the fear factor becomes something I think about more than the fun and enjoyment factor (in the saddle), I will find another way to ejoy my horses...never ever could I live without them! ( :

Janice Grinyer said...

"I asked her if she was afraid to ride after that. She said she wasn't. She did say that because she was taking a shower when her step dad died, for years she was afraid to take a shower or bath unless her mom was home because she was afraid her mom would die, too."

Very ironic statement - it wasnt the fear of riding, it was the fear of the "unknown" - of what COULD happen. I think that is what the real issue is...

We crave absolutes, and unfortunately in the act of living, there really arent any.

Anonymous said...

This has become my daily struggle Laura. Like many of your readers, I too, rode anything and anywhere when I was younger, but after having kids, things of changed a lot! In fact I have two horses out front of my house right now that I can't ride outside of their paddocks. The 18 year old QH mare because she is horrifically herd-bound and starts to panic when she leaves the property. The gelding because after I bought him we had so many problems on the ground that I didn't ride him for 6 months. We've worked through the ground issues, and I now have a young lady come and work with him twice a week under saddle. Now I sit and watch her do what I used to be able to do without a second thought. Sigh...
Do you think that part of it is that as we grow older we no longer bounce but splat?!!!
I have anxiety issues beyond my horses but sometimes I wonder when the fear is at it's peak, why I got back into horses in the first place. Still, we have a leased pony for my two younger children and she is wonderful with them. My son lights up as he wanders all around our property on this little mare and she is just as good as they come. I brought her in because she is small and he feels very very secure on her. I want his first experiences to be positive and he still rides our mare around the paddocks. She is fine for him within her own safety zone too. Funny how sometimes they reflect our moods. Neither one of us wants to travel far from home, yet neither one of us started this way.
Like I breathe though, I need to have horses in my life. Just being near them brings me so much joy. Life sometimes is so very difficult, no?

Laura Crum said...

Nikker--When I was younger and childless, I was more of the "when my time is up its up" mentality, and I didn't worry nearly so much about the what ifs. There is something about getting older and having kids that really changed this, for me and apparently others, too, judging by the comments. The fear tends to center around something bad happening to my child, or "what would my child do if something happens to me". Also there is a very clear knowing that I don't ride as well as I used to, and I am much more out of shape and would be far likelier to get hurt if I fell off. Like you, I find hauling more stressful than riding, and I plan to always have horses--even if I don't ride at some point. But I'm not there yet(!)

gowest--you have a very good point, and one I remind myself of every day. No one gets out of this alive and we cannot predict our end. If I avoid riding, which I love and am killed driving down the road tomorrow, I'll feel pretty silly (theoretically anyway)

mommyrides--you gave a very good illustration of the basic dilemma. The love of horses versus the fear issues and the awareness of the very real downside. It is true that the dilemma sometimes feels difficult--I try to focus on the joyful side and stay within my comfort zone--just like everybody else. Like you, I love to watch my son having fun on his gentle horse. We have been on hundreds of trail rides together and all has gone well (knocking on wood). I'm grateful. But I do still worry about the what ifs--especially when I hear about somebody else's bad horse wreck.

Shanster said...

Exactly ... I didn't always have confidence issues. Not until recently and it's sort of insidious how it hits me... sigh. Wish I could go back my fearless youth! But I can't.. life changes and we change along with it.

I'm hoping I can come out on the other side of it and find a happy medium...

And I know this post wasn't meant to scare - I can do that all on my own and in my own head! :)

Tho' I rode my mare last night - she's been off for a muscle pull for 3 weeks - I was able to just hope on and ride her around in the pasture - it helped. Funny how when I get wound up in my head about Rosso, a ride on Sera seems daunting too.... until I crawl up on her and then it fades into the backgound... our brains are sum'thin aren't they?

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--that is so true. When it rains a bunch (like its doing now--we gave up on our morning ride--my son and I are wimps about riding in the rain)and I'm not riding, I tend to get more and more involved in "what if". But when I actually do clmb on and ride, I find the fear evaporates, and after a few pleasant rides at home, I'm ready to go back out on the trail. Good point.

Anonymous said...

Fear is a sneaky foe. It often creeps in as an undertone instead of confronting you head-on.

It's actually logical to be a little afraid around horses. They're big, and sometimes bad things happen to even the best horseman. We try to control every horse situation completely, thinking that will make us less afraid--but guess what? You can't control every horse situation. Every poster here sounds pretty full of common sense, caution and know-how BUT sometimes bad things happen anyway.

Laura, your fear sounds to me like "Mom-fear", which I think many of us feel when we're raising our children. (Mine first came after a fall while jumping--my first thought was "who will take care of my kids?" instead of "shit, where's my horse? We need to do that again!") There's also the old-lady fear (as in we don't bounce well any more) and the "someone else can do it better" fear, and the "I can't afford to get hurt now" fear. I have dealt and am dealing with many of these guys.

But...I gotta ride. When I have to stop riding I hope I'm ready to accept that--but it's not now.

I try to use sense. I try not to take stupid chances. I try to ride the right horses. I pray sometimes. But mostly I try to accept that this is what I do, even when I'm a little afraid, and to realize that I do not have total control, and that's part of the joy of riding.

--stilllearning (blogger still hates me)

Janice Grinyer said...

The funny thing is; if we look at this from a horse's perspective, then would we trust our riders that they have our best interests at heart, rather then ONLY their personal safety ?

Kind of like this ;)~ It takes quite bit of courage, patience, and love! to get beside your teenager when they are still learning to drive, and relying on you to "guide" them in the way that will make them independent, safe and confident (and I taught mine stickshift, yikes!). So in a way, isnt that a bit like riding?

When I feel the willies, I always try to see it from my horses perspective, and that does change my attitude. The "mom mare" attitude kicks in so to speak 'cause he "needs" me to have it lol

Courage, patience, and love cant prevent all dangers all the time, but it can do wonders...and it certainly makes it more fun trying.

Laura Crum said...

stillearning and gowest--yes to all your points, and also I find it helps to put trust into the equation. I do my best to choose safe horses, but above and beyond that, I will often conciously put my trust out there--both to the horses, and beyond. I feel the horses respond to this, and I often get a lot of reassurance (from somewhere--I don't need to define it) that lets me know things will be OK. Its sort of the flip side of your coin, gowest; the older, confident horses that we ride will often "take care" of us. And when I rode young horses, I did quite often conciously assume that "I'll take care of you" atitude, and it did help.

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind a comment from a non-rider? I was playing with the "next blog" feature & found you that way. I have trained in the martial art aikido for many years and issues of injury and fear related to coming back after injury are very real for me/my friends (and I know at least three people who got into aikido as a result of their involvement in horsebackriding). One thing I, as a middle aged RN, believe is that we cannot prevent falls or injuries, we can only reduce risk - and that the greatest way to reduce the risk of injury due to a fall is to learn how to fall. Learning falls and rolls and practicing to the point they are "in your body" can make a real difference in surviving or having lesser injuries when a horse, a bike, or the curb creates a problem.
Thank you for a very thought-provoking read.

Laura Crum said...

Janet--Glad you discovered us--hope you come back and visit again. We do write a lot about horses here, but some of the insights will relate to many genres--as you noticed.

Leslie said...

Laura, I'd just like to add that my son broke his femur playing soccer when he was fourteen. He'd been a promising goalie. Just a freak accident, I was told. He had one surgery to repair nerve damage, a year's worth of rehab and a giant scar from mid-thigh to mid-calf. At one point he was told he would never play soccer or run again. He didn't play soccer, mostly because of team politics in high school, but when he was a senior he did run the mile on the high school track team!

My point, accidents happen everywhere and with anything we may choose to do.

My husband and I ride a touring motorcycle. We do wear helmets. However, when we're out on the roads, enjoying the feeling of the ride, we are keenly aware we are at the mercy of whatever may come our way.

My horses, I know mine well, but I also realize how big and strong they are, and how very quickly things can change for them. I've had my share of close calls, and it's not for lack of not being careful, just things that can happen when dealing with them.

We choose to have horses, or whatever helps us enjoy life more, and we often know the consequences that can come from those choices. I think life in general can be a risk.

Sarah said...

When I ride I always have this question in the back of my mind - if something happens right now, was this particular riding/handling action the result of a good, sound decision that just went wrong, or was I being careless or impulsive? I default to the former if I'm not sure.

Driving a car is probably statistically riskier, but unless you're independently wealthy, live in fairly limited urban areas, or can make a living as a freelance writer, you need a car to get to work and make a living. I tell myself the driving/riding thing too, but realistically you can't compare the two, except that they both are huge financial drains:)

Joy said...

such a great blog Laura. My best friend, an amazing accomplished rider, was bucked off by her ranch broke colt. She is still spooked by it because danggit, it HURT. He was in pain it turns out but still, how to rebuild that trust?

For me, the only broken bone I've ever had was when I had a freak accident on the ground with a horse I was leading and he fell towards me. He took a head dive and truly saved my life but I shattered my wrist. I was terrified to lead after that. Every horse except for the one it happened with. My own horse especially since he was recouping from his break and very fresh.

Fear will get you. It will eat at you.

It is dangerous to get in the car every day. I wear my seatbelt always. (lost two very close friends 10 years apart from no seatbelts).

I call my son my kryptonite, always have. He's 20 now. And despite all my work and worry, he has gotten himself into some deep sh*t and tangled with the law. There was no way for me to keep him from this. And I paid. Probably more than he did. I lost at least 5 years off my life in pure worry.

You can never predict the future. you can only "play the odds" and try to minimize the risks. I can honestly say I would rather die on my horse than in any other situation.

Be safe. Be smart and aware. LISTEN TO YOU GUT. <-- I cannot emphasize that more. And live. And breathe. It's all you can do.

I love your writing woman. I hope to get up north someday and attend a book signing of yours.

Laura Crum said...

Joy--I just saw your comment here. It is both scary and inspiring. I know that you are right and yet the notion that nothing I can do will safeguard my now nine-year-old son from all worry and pain torments me. I hear what you say and I believe you but I am so freaked out by the thought of anything bad ever happening to my kid--I can't tell you. Oh well, maybe all moms feel this way. Thanks for the great insights-- as always.