Oh $h!t: Our weekly spotlight on the flipside of riding–falling off

This week we bring you Rebecca Tanis, a rider who fell off and broke her arm earlier this month. Now, Rebecca is struggling with hard questions like, “But do I need two hands to lunge?”

From Rebecca…

Notes from an out-of-commission rider:

Part of me is happy that it’s the middle of “winter” and I’m not missing much. I’m better able to keep up with my reading and vicariously live through those in Aiken and Florida. The other part of me is more frustrated at being cooped up and unable to comfortably sit at the barn and watch everyone else ride (and tack up, pick hooves, etc).

I’ve recently been marveling at the fact that it has been years since I’d fallen off. Along with the marvel came a bit of trepidation that I was long overdue. My time came two Saturdays ago at the bitter end of a lesson when we got into a sticky spot at a jump. I ended on the hard ground with a bruised tail-bone and a broken arm.

The result of the injury: 6-8 weeks off from work, and I won’t even mention how long the doctor said off from riding. It was hard enough not to laugh in his face at the length of time. So here I am, 2+ weeks post-fall, slowly gaining in strength and cabin fever.

Part of the irony of this whole ordeal includes the fact that I am a physical therapist. It’s killing me that I cannot yet rehab myself. I am now one of my own crazy horse people patients. I promise to wear clean shoes when I go to the clinic. The other irony is that I just bought a new (used) saddle. It’s gorgeous. It’s a 2011 CWD, so lovely and grippy. It got here that Friday. I was riding in it for the first time when I fell. Not grippy enough. But I’m still in love with it and keeping it. So I condition it, and stare at it, and sit in it….

After initially focusing on when I’d be able to ride again, I followed with: How do I shower? And change my shirt? Luckily, the latter questions were answered by a very loving boyfriend (for Valentine’s Day I gave him the joy of me being able to shower and dress myself!). In addition to him, I learned that I have many great people in my life, including all of my barn friends (family), from staying with me at the hospital to continuously checking on me.

I started that first week by making my convalescent life about horses without actually being able to ride. The day after my fall, full of pain-killers and the desire to check on my horse, I promptly texted a friend and set up a lesson for her with my trainer. She had been wanting to get back into riding, and why not now? And now I had a ride out to the barn to check on him and watch others ride!

My next few days were filled with horsey reading: EN, HN, COTH, etc, including much You Tube video watching, and basically planning out the shows, clinics, and events that I want to do this year (I should be on again by April, right…?). Did I mention the excitement when noon comes every day and I immediately see the new items on TOTD? My newfound daytime freedom has led to several necessary purchases. I need to go back to work…

I have and am still learning a lot from this fall. First of all, it was mercifully caught on tape! Isn’t that what we always think when we fall? “Gee, too bad no one was filming that, I’d really like to see what I did wrong and fix it right away!” It took me a few days to be ready to watch, but I am glad that I will be able to fix what I saw. I now fully understand why my trainer always tells me to stop leaning left. If you lean left over the jump, it’s a lot harder to stay on when your horse bucks and goes to the right (ding ding ding!).

My most recent accomplishment (aside from dressing myself) is driving. My doctor never discussed it with me, so it should be OK. I drove straight to the barn. My trainer said she’d help me try lunging my horse – my wonderful, willing, smart, and talented 5 year old OTTB who has come so far in his jumping and flat work in a few short months. Well, he obviously had never been lunged before. You do in fact need to hands to teach a horse how to lunge. I have a wonderful trainer who gently helped him figure out the rig, and who then let me take over the “reins”. She proceeded to chase us with the lunge whip when clucking wasn’t enough to keep him going. I’m hoping to soon be strong enough to hold the whip…

All in all, it could have been worse. I am grateful for my overall health, positive outlook, and ability to learn from this experience. Many of my non-horsey friends and family can’t understand why my desire to get back on is so strong, or how I know the fall was my fault and in no way blame my horse. I think that’s the beauty of life with horses. I value my life with horses and how lucky I am to enjoy it. Horses have gotten me through other rough times and now they are my motivation to get better and Go Riding!

The bum arm.

About Rebecca:

My name is Rebecca, and I am a 26 year old rider and physical therapist.  I live in in Delaware, but work in PA horse country.  I have ridden since I was 11, hunters/jumpers, eventing, Pleasant Hollow working student, UD equestrian team, and a few other things in between.  I have also been involved with therapeutic riding and hippotherapy here in PA, in RI, and also in Israel.

I was in graduate school in NYC for three years and the only horses there are carriage horses and police horses (many of which I pet, but alas, none to ride).  Last May, I moved back down here partly for a boy, and partly for horses.  I remind the boy constantly that horses were also a part of the decision.  Since September, I have been half-leasing a wonderful OTTB named Roscoe.  He is the best green baby I have ever ridden – honest and intelligent, while still making sure there’s some excitement in our lives.  He’s been great in some local hunter/eq classes, and a few paper chases, so I’m really looking forward to taking him to some local events this year.

I look forward to riding more and also getting involved with local hippotherapy once I, myself, am healed.  I am thrilled to once again have horses as a significant part of my life.  I hope to never lose them again!

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