The Secret Life of McKenna: Ready for anything

Four months after seriously getting her head bonked, junior blogger McKenna Oxenden reports that her doctors have officially cleared her to ride.

From McKenna:

Long time no see Horse Nation! Have no fear, your great leader is back in action.

The past two weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster: some really high highs and some really low lows.

Where to begin… I guess I should… hmmm… I don’t know? Maybe start with the fact that THIS KID IS CLEARED!!! That is right, Horse Nation, you read correctly! Four months post-injury and I am able to get back into contact sports (a.k.a. ride!!)

Of course, just as any athlete has to ease back into it, I am doing the same. I’m not able to ride every day yet, partially due to schoolwork and partially still due to some limitations (and the barn is over 45 minutes away right now) but slow and steady wins the race. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come. I am almost back to 100% neurologically and cognitively, I am probably at about 90% currently.

I do have to give a huge thanks to my doctors—-Dr. Janet Lam and Dr. Megan Kramer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute. They have been absolutely hands-down AMAZING. Their visits are extremely thorough, providing several different testing techniques, exams and questions, and they really work one-on-one with you. They create a plan, provide multiple documents with specific directions and suggestions, and even go as far as coordinating with my school and being an advocate for me. I can honestly say without Kennedy Krieger, I have no idea where I would be. If you ever sustain a concussion I highly recommend them to those of you near the Baltimore area.

On the horse front, I have kept myself very, very busy! Whenever I’ve had some free time, just as any of us do, I’ve flocked to the barn. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to help out my trainer Courtney Sendak a lot–grooming, riding, watching, photographing–it’s been awesome! Courtney has been extremely lucky in the fact that she has found some seriously AMAZING babies. And when I say amazing, I mean AMAZING!

We took three of the babies to school at Morven Park right after the event. Some of them had never been off property before and it was only their second XC school ever! These ponies ground tied and did not bat an eye at anything! Talk about amazing! On another day, we did gymnastics with them, and that was just a piece of cake for them. Bounces and big oxers? No problem! This past weekend two of them had their event debut with Court and they really stepped up to the plate. Quote the Raven a.k.a. ‘Poe’ made quick work of the elementary course proving that he should have been entered in Beginner Novice, finishing in 2nd on a 35. Kiss Prints, took jumping by the horns and owned it by dragging Courtney around the course as if she had done it a million times before.

Gigi is continuing to improve under Courtney. Each time I sit on her, I can feel a difference. Although sometimes it may only be slight, it’s still there. Her flatwork has really progressed so I’m excited to see it keep coming along as with her jumping. Courtney will be out competing her this weekend at Redland in the novice division; I can’t wait to see what will come out of it!

I’ve been very lucky in the fact that when I’ve had the chance, Courtney has been letting me ride a bunch. I’ve had the pleasure of riding the babies and I can’t express how fabulous they are! The little bits of riding that I am able to fit in are fantastic; I can’t wait to be back in it full-time again so I can really start to chug along! Hopefully in May I can be back out galloping on course 🙂

It’s been a long road. I can finally see the light shining at the end of the tunnel. I’m in the home stretch. In a matter of time, it’ll all be finished.

Go eventing.


Gigi and Courtney in their double clear show jump round at Morven Park


Kiss Prints showing that jumping is no problem


Me and baby Poe posing right before his debut at Maryland


Baby Cole strutting his stuff at Morven Park during his first off property adventure


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