The worst wreck I ever had happened about two years before I quit training. At the time I neatly rationalized everything that happened. I wasn't on one of my horses. I was riding in a new place under conditions I wasn't familiar with. I wasn't given a clear history of the horse I was given to ride.
Afterwards I decided there was no reason for me to be afraid. If I could have better control over my circumstances, think each step through, pay better attention to my gut instincts and not allow myself to be pressured, I should be fine.
The reality is fear can be insidious. You can ignore it, run from it, shout at it, but once fear takes hold it effects every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life. It certainly did mine.
After my accident I found myself being slower to make my first ride on a new horse. Once I finally got on it took me days longer to push through to each new step. Instead of feeling if each new colt was ready for the next step, I was stiff with the memory of a horse that gave me no response whatsoever, the only horse I ever rode that had no give, no bend, nothing.
My friend Grace had called me one bright Sunday morning and asked me to meet her and a few others to ride some quarter horses.
I was off that day and really wasn't in the mood to ride. But I hadn't had a chance to visit with Grace for a long time and I was curious to see what she was planning to ride, since as far as I knew she wasn't into horses at all. I agreed to meet up with her, promised my eye-rolling husband I would be back in a few hours and headed towards town.
I pulled into the large lot and walked over to meet Grace and her friends.
"Hey!" she called, and waved, I could tell she was happy to see me.
"You ride first, then we'll all take turns," she said.
I'll be honest, I might have swaggered just a little bit, I was proud to be the one they were looking up to, the trainer they trusted to explain things to them.
The horse was a stiff, stubby little thing who had seen better days. I really didn't see anything to worry about, but beyond a rudimentary glance at the tack I didn't spend much time looking the situation over. I was playing to the group standing around me, just a little. I couldn't help it.
I normally would have paid more attention to how unyielding the little horse was when I tightened my inside rein, but I was letting my ego take the place of my common sense. I just swung my leg over and started to ride.
The little horse started off slow enough but just as I got my outside foot into the stirrup he started to pick up speed. I tried to pull him up but he just kept on going. He jumped forward and I lost my balance and came out of the saddle. I fell to the outside and was stuck fast by my boot, ironically the same foot I had barely gotten into the stirrup.
I hit the ground and the little horse just kept going and going, dragging me behind him. Everyone stood around screaming, but no one seemed to be able to help. I truly thought this was the end.
If that Kmart manager hadn't come running out of the store and pulled the plug ....on the quarter horse.....I might have died.