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Bad accident...do I want to keep riding?

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  • Bad accident...do I want to keep riding?

    The last year and half or so I've slowly lost interest in actually riding. I love my horses and I love having them, but working in a barn and having them on self-care at the end of the day I'm just tired and don't feel like riding. If I do ride it's just hacking around most days. I've only been riding maybe once or twice a week at the most the last 6 months.

    ...and then last week I had an accident, I ended up in the ambulance to the trauma center. A severe concussion and a night in the hospital has me wandering if I want to keep riding. And if I don't keep riding do I keep the horses? Or should I sell my riding horse, keep my older guy and just enjoy hacking him for the rest of his days? I'm just not sure that I ever want to do this experience again...any thoughts are appreciated. I don't want to make an emotional decision but when it comes to our horses is it ever anyway else?

  • #2
    I took a bad fall off my horse a year and a half ago. For me, the answer was "No, I don't want to keep riding right now". Sold my horse and haven't been to a barn since. I miss grooming and being around horses sometimes....but have kept myself busy with other things (got into dog sports instead).

    Are you happy hacking around your older guy? I'm sure he would be content with a few leisurely rides and being semi-retired.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I haven't regretted my choice for a minute.


    • #3
      Sounds like you are at a crossroads. Is putting them on full board an option while you get better and reassess your interest level? An accident is definitely a wake-up call ( I assume you were wearing a helmet, right?) and can be very scary. Maybe lease one out? Finding someone to share your passion might reignite your own.

      I have spent a year recovering from an accident I had while riding. I questioned whether or not I should ride again. I own two, one retired at home and one with a trainer on full board. I had to take care of one, full time, while my other was totally managed, thank goodness.

      Don't make in decisions in haste! A concussion is grounds for making NO important decisions, legal or otherwise.

      I decided, in the end, to try to sell the horse I was in the accident with as he is suited for a discipline that I want to slowly back out of (jumpers) to concentrate on hunters, which are slower and lower.

      I make sure I never ride alone, that I have an excellent helmet and a body protector on. Yeah, injury can still occur with all that on, but it makes me feel more secure and confident.

      Good luck, keep us posted and take your time making decisions.
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


      • Original Poster

        No, unfortunately full boarding them is not an option financially. I've had my older gelding up for lease for a while but there just doesn't seem to be much interest. I've tried leasing him out on farm, off farm free lease, and I've considered giving him away. But now I'm wondering that I should keep him and sell my mare (who I fell from). She didn't throw me and it really wasn't her fault, just a stupid accident that happened while mounting. When I do ride it is nice to not have to worry and my gelding is a good boy. He rarely spooks and is an easy ride, trail rides great, loads in the trailer. Where the mare is less predictable, doesn't load easy, green on the trails. I won't make any decisions now but I'm kicking around the idea and I don't have many horsey friends to bounce things off of.

        I was wearing my helmet, thank god. It's all busted up inside so it will be going into the trash. I do usually ride with a body protector and my cell phone on me. There is usually no one around when I ride tho. And now I think I'd like to be in a barn where there are people around and I can't afford to do that with two horses.


        • #5
          saluteatx, I feel your pain! :-/

          when a freak fall left me with a broken back last year I was asking myself the same questions. As an instructor and trainer, I was also questioning my choice of livelihood. FWIW no, I wasn't ready to give up riding-far from it. Teaching and training are my passions. But it did give me a new perspective and influences the current and future choices I make.

          No doubt you have a zillion conflicting feelings and justifications for both sides of the coin, and will hear a zillion more from anyone you go to for an opinion. One thing that might help is to start writing. Write down the pros and cons of sticking with riding, quitting riding, selling the one horse, etc. write down all you stand to gain and stand to lose with each decision. When you've hit that zillionth reason, keep writing. Somewhere around a zillion and fifty you'll have that Eureka moment. You'll know it. Hint-bursting into tears is a good indicator ;-)

          Good luck with your decision!
          Real Horses. Real Riders. Real Results! www.wvhorsetrainer.com


          • #6
            Been there, done that, too. I took a nasty fall with my horse about a year ago, broke a hip and destroyed knee ligaments. I still remember laying awake in the hospital bed, trying to rationalize and come to terms with giving up riding. For me, I seemed to go through stages.. first, the immediate longing for the barn and to see my horses, but then the shock of the accident and the reality of how serious or how much more serious it could have been, and would I ever want to chance it again in the future. Not just for my sake, but also for that of my family, and what burden it would put on them.

            I was ready to call it quits until a very close friend (who oddly enough isn't even a horse person, lol) visited at one point, and pretty much talked the sense back into me, making me realize that what I do is in fact my passion. In short, I ultimately chose to stick with it, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there are still days when I'm just too tired to ride, or I simply can't even work up the motivation. It seems to come in waves.

            Take some time to think about it. Since your accident was so recent, perhaps that is compounding with the minimized interest and making you feel that you should hang up the reins all together. As it was also suggested, write a pro/con list, and maybe even try listing your riding horse for sale. A lot of times, all it takes is that first inquiry to help you figure out what you truly feel. Then again, it may end up feeling right to let her go and keep your more reliable gelding if he's the horse you're more at peace with. Perhaps when riding is less worrisome for you, you might rediscover your enjoyment of it?

            I wish you the best in your decision.


            • #7
              No personal experience with a serious accident {knocking wood} - but there have been weeks at a stretch when I am happy just to care for my 2.
              I still enjoy riding and kick myself after I do for not getting up more often.

              However in the last year 2 friends have had bad riding-related accidents, winding up hospitalized, and both report the same feeling - no incentive to ride.

              One is trying to sell the horse that she fell off. She totally blames herself for the accident but still realizes he may not be safe for her ever again.

              The other was schooling her 6yo just a few weeks ago when she came off (due to concussion she cannot recall what happened) and will list that horse for sale.

              Both are keeping safer, more reliable mounts.

              Right now let yourself recover physically then work on making your decision.

              Hope you are feeling better ASAP!
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


              • Original Poster

                Thank you guys for sharing your experiences. I have a bit to think about, and I think writing it out would be a good way to organize this.


                • #9
                  I just posted in the shoulder injury thread -- but my accident caused me to question everything, too.

                  First of all, horse that threw me is gone. I gave her away, because I hate selling and I knew I would never ride her again. She was a lovely mare that was a five day a week horse. Not where I am at.

                  I didn't give up, but I did reassess that I needed a couple of good packers and nothing challenging. And if I just want to walk and trot around for 20 minutes in the arena, well that's ok and its where I am right now. I don't have to canter -- I never jumped anyway.

                  Horses are so important to me that I couldn't give them up, but I have become VERY realistic about what my goals are.

                  I would sell your riding horse, keep the old guy, and then if you decide in a year or two you want something else, there are many great horses out there to buy when you change your mind. A horse that should be ridden loses value every day when they stand around in a field. If your mare is at her prime, sell her to someone who will do something with her. These animals are too expensive to hang on to because you think you "might" want to ride again.

                  Sometimes life changes and we aren't in the same space we were a year ago, or five years ago. That's ok. There's nothing permanent in life and you can always go back to riding if you take a break.

                  Another suggestion -- find a group of people to be around to ride with. Change barns, or whatever you need to do, find a friend to ride with. The social aspect of riding can keep it fresh for you, and keep you motiviated.

                  I think my accident was caused by my inattention fueled by my casual attitude. I wasn't thinking sharply enough. I was overconfident and not physically capable of being effective on a green horse (read, out of shape). So you might ask yourself, how much is your disinterest going to affect your riding?


                  • Original Poster


                    You are very right. Everything you said really rang true to me. And I think I have decided that I do need to sell her and I'll keep my old boy to just enjoy when I want to. I used to enjoy riding him so much. Getting up early and riding 5 days a week. He's so out of shape now that it would take some time but I think I could get him back. I'll be really sad to see my mare go because I've gotten so attached to her but she's wasted sitting here with me. My biggest concern is where she will end up, and selling her I can't control that. But then again I can't really just afford to give her away at this point either It's going to be hard but I think its the right thing to do. I may kick myself later for giving up this girl but I think I need to be on something that is more of a packer that I can just enjoy and gain confidence on. I've never had one of those.


                    • #11
                      Good timing. I'm two days away from (hopefully) my last followup with the orthopedic surgeon. Two months ago I fell off and broke a vertebra, which is predicted to heal fine, no neurological problems. However it was my first serious fall, my first 'real' ER visit and hospital overnighter, and first broken bone, all of which has got me kind of spooked.

                      Personally I think I want to go back, although I may be sticking to the steady eddy types for a while. I realized I was always on COTH, even when I was still laying in bed popping Vicodin, and that told me something. I figure I'll start out slow with lesson horses I know, and play it by ear.

                      Now I'm praying to hear good news from the doctor. I'm hoping for no PT, weight restrictions, or activity bans.
                      "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

                      Phoenix Animal Rescue


                      • #12
                        I am sorry you are having to go through such a decision! I had a similar experience over a year ago when I ruptured a disc in my lower back for the second time in a 2 year span. I did not injure myself directly from riding but I had been riding many horses 6-8 a day for a long period of time and most of them were green or problem horses that owners did not want to deal with riding. There was lots of spooking, spinning, stopping at fences, rearing, and bucking in that period of time and my lower back just could not handle it anymore. My disc ruptured and I was barely able to walk due to extreme sciatic pain.

                        My last disc rupture involved a tremendous amount of pain and debilitation and required surgery. Surgeon told me if I ruptured the same disc again, I would need to get a spinal fusion which does not sound like something I want for myself in the future! I did not ride for about 6 months after the surgery. I knew I wanted to ride again but I wanted to ride well schooled and reliable horses that I could trust. I started back riding carefully and slowly and took my time. I still ride but now just 1 or occasionally 2 horses. I ride horses that I feel I can trust and won't pull any stupid stunts on me. I am careful about my back and if I wake up and it is irritated, I don't ride that day. I always want to ride and while you can never make it exactly safe since anything can happen on even the most steddy eddy, I can at least reduce the chance of another bad injury when I am riding a trustworthy horse.

                        I think you should keep your older guy and continue to enjoy riding him and sell the younger horse. Also, you said you had only been riding 1 or 2 times a week. I know I lack confidence when my riding muscles are weak and my position does not feel stable. This can lead to disaster when riding a younger horse as they can pull a stunt and you will not be as secure in your seat and will come off a lot easier. It takes time to build up riding muscles when you are only riding 1 or 2 times a week. At least with your older horse you will not have to worry about spooking, etc. Anyways, sorry this is so long, I wish you the best of luck!


                        • #13
                          I am so sorry to hear about your accident! I had a similar experience not long ago and have been struggling with many of the same things, so I'll share my thought process and maybe it can help you.

                          Last spring/summer I was 22 years old and I was training 3 horses plus my own mare (who was moving slowly into retirement after her eventing career) while taking ~18 credit hours of 300/400 level pre-vet classes per term, while being very actively involved in Pony Club (passed my C3 and H) and family stuff and working with an equine vet, filling out vet school applications, etc, etc....I was INSANELY busy and I loved every minute of it - I was riding on top of the world. I was especially proud of the green OTTB mare I had brought along from nothing to Novice level. I took her to her second-ever horse trials, first time at Novice, and we had her best-ever dressage test, started out fine on cross country, we were cruising along, and the next thing I know I'm on the ground, looking up at the trees and wondering why every inch of my body was screaming at me. I don't remember much of what happened that day or for the next several weeks, really, but the video shows that we were going downhill to a ditch in the shadows and my mare said "no" rather emphatically, and she stopped while I kept going headfirst straight into the log revetting the ditch. Bam. Every eventer's worst nightmare.

                          After one traumatic brain injury, three complex spinal injuries, six months of physical therapy, seven months of speech therapy and cognitive remediation, over 100 seizures, ten doctors, and nine months of painful and agonizing recovery, I've re-thought a lot of things about my life. I am at such a completely different point in my life compared to last year that there is no way I ever could have imagined myself here. I'm 23 years old, living with chronic spine issues that continue to be a mystery to everyone, diffuse and widespread brain damage with cognitive, mental, and physical manifestations, seizures that are gradually making the brain damage worse, the possibility of a veterinary career gone and now shifted to human medicine, and trying to adjust my life to all of that.

                          Whether or not I would keep riding was never really a question - it was a matter of how I would keep riding. Did I want to still event? Did I still want to train? Did I want to be a barn manager again? Teaching? Heavy and serious competition? I went through all of those questions and I tried each and every one of those things again. Finally I realized that I had to pick and choose those that are most important to me because as you can imagine, all of those things above that I've been doing, plus trying to get into medical school means that I am really crunched for time.

                          And I think that's what it comes down to - what's most important to you? What means the most? I didn't really know until I tried them all out and had to choose only those that were possible and that meant the most. I realized that primarily the relationship I have with my mare is most important. We've been through hellfire and back over the last seven years together and nothing will separate us. I also decided that riding and more specifically, eventing, are most important to me. I also like to do a little bit of teaching. Training, managing, brokering, all those other things I've done in the past aren't really important to me anymore. I like to ride my horse for my own growth and progress as a rider. Now, that takes on a new meaning because riding is so good for my brain and my physical recovery. I am blessed that my mare is a safe, sane, competent ex-therapy horse who also happens to love eventing. She'll take me through my recovery and my only current goal is to do a Beginner Novice event this summer or fall. Currently I'm not riding every day because school and med school applications and MCAT and my recovery are more important, so my mare is living with my parents right now and I get to go see her every weekend and go for a ride. She'll come back down here on full-care board later this summer when school things have calmed down.

                          I'm happy with my decisions and I know they are the right ones, even though they have been very hard. It's hard to give up all those things that I loved doing and settling on just one or two, but I realized that just because those are my decisions right now doesn't mean I can never do those other things again, it's just that they're not the right thing for me right now. Maybe someday I will get to ride Intermediate, but I've got to relearn so much before then. It was really, really hard to move my mare an hour away from me where I only get to see her once a week, but that was the right thing for her too. I couldn't take care of her properly here, so now she is doing great at Mom and Dad's and I have peace of mind that she is safe and happy.

                          Another year from now may find my life completely upside down again, just as this year did. You never know, you just have to go with the flow. That's all we can do.

                          So that's my experience, maybe some part of it can help you. I will echo others and say that you should definitely take your time and write out all the possibilities and definitely seek the advice of others - acute brain injuries (and ALL concussions are brain injuries!) are NOT the time to be making decisions!!!! Believe me, I learned the hard way. Taking your time and asking others can show you that you may be making a huge mistake that you just can't see - nine months later that still happens to me. I know you'll make the right decision, whatever it is, because you are already smart enough to come here and ask all these wonderful people their opinions. You'll do great, whatever you do. I know it.

                          And if you ever need to talk about anything injury-related or otherwise, just PM me. I don't know how bad your concussion was, but I went through HELL with my post-concussion syndrome and brain injury and had to fight to get the right care and daily life was just a nightmare, so I am really sorry that you have to go through this and I would be glad to help you out in any way.

                          Good luck.
                          "The FEI is often in error, but never in doubt." - Jim Wofford

                          "You do not find the happy life. You make it." - Camilla Eyring Kimball


                          • #14
                            Sell your mare, keep the old guy, find a reliable person to take over the empty stall in exchange for taking care of your guy once a day or something and give yourself some rest, a chance to heal and remember why you love riding
                            Originally posted by The Saddle
                            Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.


                            • #15
                              Years ago, I had a TB gelding that with the help of my trainer we were bringing along as a hunter. He jumped decent, ok mover, however I swear he had a screw loose in his brain. He really didn't seem to like the hunter stuff though. He would be great 95% of the time, but that 5% when he wasn't was the problem. He would sporadically spook and he was very powerful in his movements. I think also in retrospect that he was a little too big (16.1h)for me. I am average height(about 5"5"), but have short legs. In a somewhat freak accident(cantering around ring, foot caught on fence board, board popped and hit horse in side, he spooked and I hooked him with a spur causing him to buck), I fell off, severely lacerated my arm, and broke my hip. When I was finally able to ride about 4 months later, I just didn't feel comfortable on him anymore. I sold him to a high school age girl who was going to use him as an eventer. I ended up with a 15h very colorful black and white app gelding who could occasionally be naughty, but did everything in slow motion. I knew even though I had lost a lot of confidence that I didn't want to totally give up riding. The change of horses helped and I currently have a TB mare who is been there done that and is great fun to ride no matter what I try with her. Sell the mare and either ride the gelding or use the money from sale of mare to get a more been there done that type of horse.


                              • #16
                                I was thinking about this type of thing today.

                                In 1995 (yes, that WAS a long time ago!), I came off my mare and dislocated my heel, shattered my ankle and broke two pieces of my tibia. A week in the hospital, 4 hours of surgery and 3 months off work, convinced me to sell the mare and get out of horses.

                                for 10 years I was out of horses. Didn't miss them at all. Moved on with my life in other areas.

                                Enter DD who had desperately wanted a horse for years, and an enabling friend who "knew of this mare". The Good Red Mare came to us on a cold and windy November night, or early morning (2am). After a year of riding her, and freezing my you-know-what off in the barn while DD rode.....I knew we needed another horse. Enter the mare I rode today. She was unbroke, opinionated, and just exactly what I wanted when I bought her. That was 6 years ago. I rode my Little Redhead (as vs The Good Red Mare, 2 different horses) today and was relaxed and confident. Believe me when I say I am not confident on other horses.

                                It was not tragic when I sold the other mare and I did not miss the horses while I was out of them. If it were not for my little mare, and at least 3 good friend as well as a fearless daughter to help me, I would still be out of them. But now, I just want to do casual riding with my friends. Trails are nice, and the good times are back.

                                So if you decide to get out, it does not have to be forever, but it is not the end of the world either, if you move on to other things. I think we sometimes get stuck with feeling like we have to stay where we are, but in reality, our lives change and we move on to different things frequently.