Many of us who drive due to disabilities do it a LOT. I have my pony out at least twice a week, more during the summer when I can go out in the evenings as well as weekends. I don't find it rougher than riding, and we go places most people wouldn't dream of driving (off road craziness). I cannot safely ride a horse any more, but I've been driving (a lot, like I said) for ten years now and have not had a wreck or injury. Now watch, I'll have jinxed myself.
It is true that wrecks can be more dangerous while driving due to the damage that can be done by the vehicle itself, but they are no more likely.
I can say from personal experience that it's a completely valid option for many people when riding is no longer an option. Whether it is a good choice depends on the individual's mobility issues, and it depends on the horse and equipment.
I've driven a lot. How rough it is depend on where you're driving, and what you're driving. A bike, with well inflated tires, down the road is like sitting in a car. Take it through a field and it isn't as smooth. My spine appreciates it when I drive rather than ride.
To the OP, as other have said, a TBI is no joke. Give yourself time to heal. Doctors can be pretty conservative, but they usually do have a reason for whatever they are saying.
Wanting to ride is not stupid; however, ignoring your limitations is. There was another poster on here for a while, VegasSky I think, who also had a bad TBI. It got to be almost pathetic how that kid kept coming up with new ways to wreck herself and the level of denial. I don't think you want to go there.
I would love to learn how to drive, but I don't know where to start. I don't want to buy all the gear at first in case my horse doesn't take to it. My horse is pony sized. I guess I would have to find a pony driver around who could teach me.
Where are you in MD? Lynne Shpak (I think that's how you spell her last name) at Statesman Farm, in Baltimore County, is WONDERFUL (they do have a website). She is a Morgan breeder but also does riding and driving lessons. I myself no longer ride/drive with her, but took a couple driving lessons with a pony-sized Morgan stallion she has and learned a lot and had a good time. She probably does training too -- at the very least she can give you some good advice and assistance.
I had a pretty traumatic back/spinal injury almost a decade ago (eek! I can't believe it's been that long) and drove for a while until I felt safe getting back on a horse and was cleared by my orthopedist AND neurologist. I drove mainly Saddlebreds and Hackneys which was, and I say this as a jumper rider, the most fun ever.
Listen to your doctors, but also have a serious conversation with them about the riding. I had an orthopedist when I was young who, for reasons unknown to me still, didn't consider riding a sport/athletic at all. So he gave me the go-ahead for riding after a severe injury, when in reality, I should NOT have been riding. Make sure your doctor understands what you want to do.
I had a bad fall off a horse in Feb and have been trying to recover from a brain injury since. I was wearing a helmet, but went down head first, did not catch myself with my hands or anything. (Caught up in reins and one foot temporarily caught in stirrup) Helmet has many cracks, ER doc figures I probably wouldn't be alive without it or if I was, I'd be a drooling mess. I had some minor concussions previously and given that brain trauma is cumulative, it finally caught up with me.
All I want to do is ride again, but I have not been cleared to do so. I've only been in serious rehab since July, so I have a fair bit of work ahead of me still. I'm still using a cane to walk and even with it, I'm pretty unsteady.
My doctor has said until I can walk more reliably, riding is out of the question. Given that I'm still falling at least once a week with my feet on the ground, he feels its just too risky to put me up 5 or 6 ft in the air on a horse with its own mind and opinions. He even feels that therapeutic riding is just too risky right now.
He doesn't guarantee me that he'll ever clear me for riding, but he knows that eventually I will ride again with or without his permission, so he's trying to work with me to get me there.
In your case, I think you should listen to your doc for now... like me, you're still in the early stages of recovery. Brain injury recovery is measured in months and YEARS not days and weeks.
I definitely don't think you're stupid for wanting to ride again... I think that desire will help get you through the recovery process. Just don't rush it. THAT's the stupid thing to do. And know that you might have to change some of your riding goals and ambitions.
I'm pretty sure my days of riding greenies are now done. As I told my husband, the next horse I'm looking for is one that's just a bit less than dead. Sounds awful, but something old with maybe a minor lameness that keeps its from wanting to be too nutty might just work out ok.
Husband thinks the only horse I should get on is one that needs quarters to run and even then I should wear my helmet.
So yeah... ride again... just not yet. Patience. If you want to talk, feel free to pm me.
Until I had a grade 2 concussion 2-3 years ago, I never looked into brain trauma from concussions. All I did was diligently wear a helmet reinforced by a seminar I once attended sponsored by what then was called the American Medical Equestrian Association discussing injuries and helmets.
Brain jarring is to orthopedic injuries what jello is to calcified bone.
When I broke my wrist ice skating some years ago -- 3 pins -- I ignored the warnings about riding before the cast was off. I'd so so again. They can fix broken limbs. (FWIW, it was amazingly painful to try to use that arm as usual to tighten a girth even when the cast was removed. My orthopod was amused and said that that arm break was then stronger than the same spot had been before the break.)
I rode again soon after my concussion, but was very cautious about what I did that might risk another fall. Stopped worrying and being conservative only several months later when the experts' window of vulnerability for re-injury had passed.
My old helmet wasn't all that badly dented and scraped, but despite that seemingly modest damage, I couldn't and can't recall the accident or coming off. There were a raft of ugly bruises the entire length of my body on the opposite side from the helmet dent.
I keep it in my office as a souvenir and reminder.
If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?
"Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Einstein
OK, I am an equestrian/old nurse w/experience working in a TBI rehab center.....I'm gonna have to take a firmer stand that riding will not be good for you now or maybe even in the future. You are not stupid; it's normal to have those feelings to waant to return to your previous level of function and life. But some things we don't get better from so we can't do what we used to do. You don't "recover" from brain damage. You only "compensate" for it. It IS cumulative. It's very subtle sometimes. Helmets don't protect you fully.
Besides the obvious physical deficits of TBI; there's a mountain of psychological/emotional/intellectual deficits and changes that can occur. The degree & type varies widely.
At the lowest levels of damage are mild cognitive deficits....ex: lack of common sense, lack of safety awareness, poor decision making, poor money management, lack of self preservation, depression, insomnia, disturbed health habits, poor eating habits, mild forgetfulness, usually short term memory problems, word finding problems and impulsiveness, obscessing on certain thoughts......
. At the moderate levels might be: lack of personal grooming/dress, emotional lability, mood swings, hyperactivity, hypoactivity, outbursts, irrational thinking/fears, eccentricities, isolating behaviors, memory losses .
I can't tell you how many of us horsepeople have the symptoms of low level cognitive impairment!! Why? From a lifetime of klunks on the head from falling off horses! It all adds up! Ever notice how many "odd" or "eccentric" or "quirky" old horsewomen there are??!!! Add to that our brains lack of regenerative abilities after our 20's AND natural brain changes in aging and we are going to have cognitive deficits when we get old - er !!!
So......you may be obscessing on riding. You may be feeling a natural desire to return to your familiar life. To what has brought you joy. But.....you may not be the one who CAN or SHOULD make that decision. You MUST accept the help and advice of your medical advisors in this case. Doesn't mean you like it or agree but it's what a normal thinking person would decide. Accepting your deficits is very, very hard. Doing what YOU want to do is impulsive, lacks safety judgement, lacks self preservation instincts and denial of your injuries. Please, please do what they tell you. Otherwise.....a trainwreck may happen. Would we let someone whose got impaired thinking make major life changing decisions?> You've gotten some good advice from the others too.
You may also be depressed and emotionally spent. You may need some antidepressants or medicines to help with that. Keep up your therapy. Let THEM ADVISE YOU!! Follow that advise.
I could go on but.....you are not alone. There's a LOT of brain damage our here in the horseworld.
Give your body time to heal. You have had a major injury. Listen to your Dr.s. You can and will return to your horses but give it time. Thank God you are still alive. Give it time. You know the old saying "Time heals all wounds." This is a chance to make that work. Recovery may be slow, but in the end it is worth it. Use this time to learn Driving and perhaps arrange to have your horse trained to drive. A good professional trainer should be able to teach your horse to drive.
My best advice is to be patient. Give it time.
I know I am being repetitious. For a reason.
Wish you the very b
Wateryglen, I wish I could forward your post to a friend of mine, who, sadly, won't take it the right way! I think you're right, there are a lot of us out there in the horse world with long term cumulative damage from past events... Here's hoping the next generation that is growing up with better helmets and better awareness will avoid some of our problems!
I've been through the impaired judgement thing with a couple of damaged riders lately. It is frustrating, scary, and heartbreaking. Frustrating because there are perhaps accommodations which COULD be made, such as arranging for people to help out as side walkers--but the person has to admit to needing the help. Scary when an impaired rider insists on taking a horse out among other riders and the general public. Heartbreaking when you lose a friendship because you say, no, I am not going to put myself in harms way enabling you.