Back on Track ‘Horse Therapy’: Time to Breathe

Sigourney Jellins was a full-speed-ahead horse professional until an accident put her on “stall rest” — which had an unexpected silver lining.


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By Sigourney Jellins 

I am notoriously bad at taking down time. On vacation, I am the obnoxious tourist at the beach constantly checking my phone for updates on how the horses are doing, and sending constant reminders on which horse gets which feed, which one likes which turnout paddock, the list goes on. I have actually received responses from those at home saying, “YOU are on vacation, turn off your phone!” My boyfriend calls it “missing out” syndrome, when you cannot bear not knowing what is going on all the time, and boy, do I have a bad equine case of it. A rare day off consists of visiting the barn only once to remove blankets, grain, and generally check on the precious ponies’ well-being.

And then, I was stepped on. An ill-fated bareback in a halter ride before the last show of the season took a turn for the worse. A small spook became a bolt, and realizing that the situation was quickly going to turn from bad to worse, I tried to jump off — and promptly rolled right under said bolting horse’s hind feet. A couple of days and crunched rib bones later, I was officially on “stall rest.” Along with the pain, I was in shock, going from riding 6 to 8 horses a day and teaching numerous lessons to barely being able to sit up for over an hour.

However, after three days of “stall rest” (now I have an inkling as to how laid up horses feel), I absolutely had to be back at the barn. At first, I was overcome with frustration being unable to do my regular lifting of shavings and feed buckets, lunging and turnout of rambunctious horses, and schooling on the flat and over fences. Instead, I was relegated to a chair, and forced to take a deep breath (whether I wanted to or not, it was doctor mandated for my broken ribs) and let my team of family, students, and clients take over. And wow, was I impressed. They rode, trained, lunged, walked, fed and barn managed. The horses are as happy and rideable as ever. Everyone gained new skills, and advanced in their respective riding journeys, as we were all forced outside of our comfort zones. I could not manage the young horse bouncing its way to the turnout, the gelding needing to be refocused on the lunge line with some walk-trot transitions — someone else dealt with each issue that arose and as a result was able to add to their own repertoire of horse knowledge and experience.

As eager as I am to be back in the saddle, I am going to appreciate this opportunity to sit back and take a deep breath (once again, doctor required). To the fullest extent possible, I am going to enjoy and be grateful for my wonderful team, and cheer them on as they advance their horse handling proficiency and riding confidence.


Sigourney Jellins is an eventing and dressage instructor and professional rider from the California Bay Area. She enjoys riding and training thoroughbreds in particular, and encouraging her students to pursue their equestrian dreams.

Here at Horse Nation, we believe that the best therapists are our own horses. We love sharing the stories of special equines and the lessons horses have taught us — email yours to [email protected] to be featured in an upcoming edition of Back on Track “Horse Therapy.” Go Back on Track, and Go Riding!


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