Tuxie + Mule = Broken Collarbone March 11 2011, 8 Comments
It was last Saturday morning. I woke up and was having my usual coffee and insanely delicious cinnamon cereal that I am not addicted to and thinking that maybe I would just call my riding instructor and tell her I was going to take the day off from riding. I simply and honestly wasn't "feeling it" and it did strike me as odd because it's very rare that I don't feel like riding.
Saturday is almost always a group jumping lesson with usually 4-6 students of which I am the oldest - by like 30 years, but whatever. Let's say average age is 12. Most girls are from our neighborhood and most bring their own horses.
This Saturday we weren't scheduled to jump. Our Instructor had moved the jumping to Sunday. The planned exercise for this Saturday was going to be gymnastics or riding over Cavaletti poles - which I had done a few days earlier and honestly wasn't overly enthusiastic about repeating.
Tuxie and I had worked everyday that week and I thought he'd be ok with a day off and jumping the next day. But I still didn't cancel. Why? Well, in the past if I ever didn't feel like riding, I usually always feel better after and I end up having a good if not great lesson.
So, I tacked Tuxie up and he was his normal puppy dog/lover boy self and we proceeded to join the other couple of students in the arena to warm up. About 10 minutes into the walk/trot portion, I saw 2 more students coming up the drive way on horseback. No...wait, one of them was on a....no...it can't be....yup....it was a Mule! In my head in big black letters was "OH NO." Just like that - a big clear sign that my intuition quickly typed up and presented to me free of charge. Did I take the free advice I was given and just hop off? No.
The girls came into the arena and everyone stopped what they were doing and went over to see what she was doing on the Mule. Apparently, she was joining the lesson. I wished I had known in advance because for sure I would have opted out. Tuxie does not like Mules. I had the benefit of discovering this the year before at a large show. One of the competitors in a walk-trot class had a Mule. The second Tuxie saw it he freaked - big bulging eyes, pawing, running sideways - drama! The show arena was gigantic and I kept him as far away from it as possible but he was clearly upset and not going to get over it. We got through it and I made a note to myself that we would not be repeating that scenario again.
So, the horses were reacting to the Mule - one of Tuxie's barn buddies, Shark, had his neck extended about 2 feet up - like a Giraffe while his eyes simultaneously almost popped out of his head. Tuxie, who was standing next to Shark, curled his neck in a way I have never seen - well maybe it resembled Rollkur - and his eyes were big as saucers.
Anyway, it was time to get back to warming up and I had my doubts.
I did stay away from the Mule - even at opposite ends of the arena. To Tuxie the Mule may as well have been on his back the whole time. I tried to collect him up a bit, keep his attention on me by doing lots of transitions. We all began to canter and as we did, the Mule farted several times which translated into an explosion of energy from Tuxie and in that second I discovered that Mule Farts are Tuxie's Kryptonite.
I remember he threw his head down very close to the ground and he either bucked or kicked out in the general direction of the Mule. I had never experienced this type of force from Tuxie and I didn't have a chance of staying on. His motion sent me directly into the sand arena floor like a rocket, squarely landing on and subsequently breaking my right collarbone and crashing down on the right side of my head.
I immediately took inventory - and the result was that I couldn't move my right side. I was, even in that moment grateful for my helmet because I hit so hard that under any other circumstance I would not have been so lucky. About 5 minutes into the searing, white hot pain I was helped up only to have to go right back down because I started to see stars, sweat, get nauseous and go numb.
My husband came and took me to the Urgent Care. Longest 5 minute ride ever. Somehow through the tears streaming down my face and over-flowing runny nose, they managed to get 2 shots of some painkiller in me. I wouldn't have cared at all if they had to give me a shot in the butt at that point - oh... my husband just pointed out that they did in fact give me 2 shots in the butt! I'd have to say I was just fine with that! About 20 minutes later we had to get the x-ray and if I moved a centimeter it caused searing pain, so they let me leave my shirt and bra on (for which I am forever grateful) and got the x-ray.
The collarbone is so broken that it will need surgery. I have an appointment on Monday with a surgeon and we'll see what he says.
If I could impart one piece of wisdom on anyone who is reading this, as well as myself, it would be to listen to and act upon your instincts when necessary. Especially when it has to do with your Horse. Horses have a built in mechanism for survival. Humans have the added complication of thinking which falls between detecting the threat and diminishing the threat. The moments in which we over-think or question over and over if we should be doing something or not could be the moment you save yourself and possibly your horse from a disaster.
I am going to take this time to practice listening to my instincts. And hopefully not eating too many Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies.
**Also, some Mule and Horse factoids that would have helped to know before the accident: That Horses view Mules as predators, that Mules smell differently (and have no reproductive organs) and that they can frighten a Horse so much that the horse can panic and go into flight mode.