The Scariest Experience Of My Life

May 17, 2012 - 4:29 AM
Jennie Brannigan didn't let her MCL tear keep her from enjoying the Willowdale Steeplechase on Mother's Day with fellow eventers (from left) Stephanie Boyer and Erin Sylvester.

Well, things have sure been interesting in my life the past few weeks, and I can’t help but admit that I just seem to be having a bit of a low year! These things happen, though, and then it’s just that much better when things go right.

I guess I should share the story of how I recently injured my knee.

The other day I was riding one of Ronald Zabala’s young horses while his stallion was turned out in a field. I had my California show jumper friend Lane Clarke out to True Prospect to help do some teaching before Jersey Fresh, and he was teaching Jackie Imholte in the outdoor arena nearby. Phillip was jump schooling a horse as well.

I was jumping some cross-country jumps when I heard the sound of hoofbeats behind me. I turned, and suddenly there was the stallion right next to us, rearing and trying to attack the horse I was on and pinning us up against the fence.

Phillip galloped up to us, because he’d seen the stallion jump out of his paddock, and told me to run. So I did. I’d started galloping back toward the barn when the stallion caught up and went to attack my horse again. Mine spun around to try to defend himself, and he slipped and fell. At that point I was caught up underneath both of them and couldn’t move my left leg to get out of the way.

Phillip told Lane to grab me, and he pulled me out from underneath the horses. I’m so grateful to Lane, because if he hadn’t have been there, I think I would be far more hurt, especially since Phillip happened to be on a horse’s back at the time. But it’s incredible how great Phillip is in these high-stress situations… He truly is amazing.

I have to say, it was the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life, and I think I’ll be scared of stallions for quite awhile.

A big thank you to my owners, Tim and Nina Gardner, for helping me get taken care of well at the hospital, and Kelley Merette, who was waiting with me there and who I gave a proper scare when I passed out in the ER. Poor girl! 

My doctor says I have a grade III MCL tear (which is a complete tear), but I found out on Monday that I don’t have to have surgery. And I had an MRI yesterday and should know more today. It’s looking like a month to two months off of riding for me.

Phillip was also amazing to ride Indie for me in the CCI** at Jersey. Unfortunately Indie jumped quite green and way too far out in the water and fell on landing… Luckily they were OK, and Phillip was able to pilot Whisper to the win later on in the day.

Thank you to everyone—my friends, clients, sponsors, owners and of course my amazing bosses, Phillip and Evie—for all the support.


Brannigan Eventing


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