Thanks for the welcome!
I've already been working on Run to me and Run with me plus Chasing the Tiger - and I'm recording it all in my blog!
Here's the story of my accident, Romy.
Bob came over and took some pictures of the horses jumping. He was inspired by Jet’s loose jumping the previous week and by one of Matthew Seed’s photographs. I couldn’t stay late enough to get the real effect of the light, but it was still a worthwhile exercise for him and produced some lovely shots for me!
Louise and Chris were once again there to help out. So, with Bob and his light, me with the whip, the youngsters doing the jump and two horses, it was pretty busy in there.
Now, the plan was to have just Jetty jumping. But in my wisdom, I thought it would be good to get Walle out as well. I think in part I wanted to get back to the life I had before my accident. In part I felt sorry for him being left out.
I know that’s silly. He’s fine in the field.. Ok, he gets a little stressed being left alone, but after the prolonged period without work, he’s also a little stressed by the pressure involved in being herded with a lunge whip. In addition, I still have my jaw wired, the bones haven’t knitted together, so any impact would be a bad thing. At that point I was still tired and rather weak too.
Walle at that point was a little on the unpredictable side. He was not as wired as he used to be, but he’s no longer the Chilledebeast of Bowhayes days.
In retrospect, I don’t think I should have had him in the school with three other people as well as me. Partly because it increased his anxiety and tension, but also because my control over the two horses is compromised when I can’t move around the school freely with other people in the central area.
Anyway, nothing bad happened.
Well, not until afterwards. Becky came over to me when I turned the boys out and said she doesn’t feel happy about me free schooling the horses together.
That is completely fair enough.
I wasn’t really aware of what was going on on the night of our accident.
She was thrown from Walle, whom Lucinda had expressly told us not to ride, but we thought we knew better, and he started to bronc as soon as she mounted. My face was in the firing line. An inch higher and I wouldn’t be typing this now. So I guess I’m lucky.
But not very.
Becky had to sit and wait for the ambulance as I bled copiously. My teeth were in pieces in my mouth and on the road. I couldn’t move, though I could speak well enough to swear. My lower jaw was fractured, my upper jaw shattered.
Bex is still having nightmares. She visited me every day as I lay sedated in the Intensive Treatment Unit.
I hate to bring all this into my feelgood blog about Natural Management, but there we go, I write what happened…
Had Walle been shod, my injuries would have been far more severe. Had I listened to Lucinda (or indeed Walle’s previous owner), I wouldn’t be injured at all.
My choices of management and how I personally work the horses didn’t cause this. It did not happen loose schooling; it did not happen just leading Walle along as a companion to Jet; it did not happen with Walle loose in the school while I rode Jet.
It happened on a hack as I held Walle for Becky to mount. She’d ridden out on Oliver, and I was to ride Oli back while she rode Walle (exactly as we did the previous week). And this was something Lucinda expressly told us not to do. She wanted to keep Walle’s work as very occasional physiotherapy by her, nothing more.
The thing was, Becky liked Walle and considered buying him before I did and was thinking he could make a show horse. And I thought that if she bought Walle, I could buy a Bowhayes horse, Alfie, to grow up naturally with Jet. We were both carried away with ambitions that didn’t allow us to focus on Walle’s here and now.
It was an accident arising from our misjudgement.
I had been warned. Twice.
I didn’t listen and am paying a hefty price. As is Becky, who is suffering not just the pain of two badly injured feet but also the trauma of the memories, which I, of course, do not have. Sedation has the benefit of conferring amnesia.
She would prefer that Walle does not come out of the paddock at all; that no one has to handle him and, ideally, that I get rid of him.
This is very hard for me.
I can’t say I feel quite the same about Walle as before, but in no way do I feel that he’s a bad horse. He’s a sensitive horse who’s been traumatised and is very reactive in certain situations. I actually believe he’s a kind and affectionate horse and that, without saddle, girth or rider, he’s as safe as any other horse.
However, Becky’s needs are more important and so I have to make some tough decisions.
While I’m in Devon I’ve been thinking and talking to Lucinda. There are some possibilities – perhaps swapping him for a Bowhayes horse, one that’s not used for riding at the moment, perhaps even Alfie – but for now I will allow time to do some healing for us all.