Triple Trouble: Dust Off the Crutches

“No matter which horse I’ll be riding, I’m counting down the days until this cowgirl can get back on her horse. It just doesn’t feel right that the main ride is a knee scooter.”

First line of order, WHYYYYYYYY MEEEEEEE?? Okay, now that I got that off my chest, I really need to stop breaking bones. I also need to stop one-upping my previous injuries when I do so. Last year, I had a Jones fracture of the right foot that forced me into a boot and on crutches for eight weeks. It was a terrible eight weeks. I couldn’t ride or partake in any of the other fun activities I enjoy doing. No hiking, biking or rock climbing. I was miserable to say the least.

It took me some time to get my strength back up in that entire leg — having one chicken leg and one large leg really wasn’t a good look. When I was first able to bear weight on my right lower extremity, I couldn’t even stand on it long enough to put my shoe on the other foot. It was disheartening, but I hit the gym, did range-of-motion exercises, and spent the summer in the pool doing exercises that were less intense.

I NEVER wanted to go through that experience again.

HAHA. I ride horses.

I suppose not very well, because I ended up on the ground.

Photo by Matt Cline

On October 1, 2024, I was competing at the CMSA Steel Town Gunslingers Northeast Regionals shoot. I was sitting well in my class, 2nd place to be exact, but I was a little apprehensive about the shutdown on course 24 (posted below). The rundown is on a diagonal, which leads the horses right into the corner. By the time you shoot the number 10 balloon and look up, you have to gather your horse up quickly to turn and have a safe shutdown. Even in fairly large arenas, this is a tight shutdown.


@_gru_crew_ Explanation of Course 24, the pattern I wrecked on for @go_riding Triple Trouble article. ##goriding##cmsa##mountedshooting ♬ original sound – Marcella

I know Payco flies down the rundown at lightening speed. He loves every second of it. To prepare for the end of the pattern, our entire warm up included, stop, backup, stop, backup, go fast, go slow, go fast, go slow, stop, back up, stop, back up. I prepared us more for the shut down than I did for the actual pattern.

I didn’t prepare us enough.

We had an absolutely smoking run of 11.9 seconds. Payco was with me the entire run — all the way to the very end. At the end of the run, I shot my number 10 balloon and went to gather up Payco. I’m going to post the video here but I’d like to make mention that Payco is an EXTREMELY sensitive horse. It takes next to no pressure to ask him for anything. When I asked him lightly at the end of the run to check up, he tried his hardest. I could feel it.


@_gru_crew_ Great run before we wrecked in the shutdown and I broke my foot. #sunmansirishpay #aqha #aqhaproud #cmsa #mountedshooting #horsesoftiktok #gun #guns #revolver #singleactionshootingsociety #singleaction #cowgirllifestyle #western #westernlifestyle ♬ Don’t I Make It Look Easy – Meghan Trainor

The arena wall came faster than we could turn. I was hoping he’d take plan B and have the ability to turn out the enter gate but, he knows better that it’s not an option and we collided with the wall at a quick speed.

On my way down, my foot got hung up in the stirrup enough to cause some serious damage. As I was falling I could see Payco making every attempt to get himself out of my way — that speaks volumes to me to know I have a safe horse. I knew as soon as I hit the ground that something was broken. I was all too familiar with that feeling from last year. My foot, ankle, and up my leg immediately started to turn black and blue.


@_gru_crew_ The horse wreck that broke my leg and ankle (I got caught up in the stirrup)🤕 #horsefail #horsefails #rodeowrecks #mountedshootingfail #ouch #brokenleg #brokenankle ♬ Oh No – Kreepa

That evening, as soon as I arrived home, I immediately took myself to the emergency department. I spent most of the night there to hear the dreaded news that my foot was broken in the same spot as last time. Again, I was in a boot with crutches as my main mode of transportation.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

First thing in the morning, I made an appointment with my orthopedic physician. By the time Friday rolled around I was ready to barter with him that I would not hike, bike, or rock climb, but I wanted to compete over the weekend. After all, my foot didn’t even hurt. It was my ankle and up my leg that had the pain — I chalked that up to a bad sprain.

I told my doctor about the lack of pain in my foot and pinpointed where I was having pain. He walked out to re-examine my x-rays from the emergency department and came back in with great news — my foot was not broken. I was so happy and already making plans in my head to ride.

Then he hit me with some real $h!t. My leg and ankle were broken. I couldn’t believe it. He showed me the x-rays and was adamant that I not bear weight on that leg. The way the fracture sits, it could go either way if it will heal nicely on its own or if I may need surgical intervention. If I stay off of it, there’s a good chance I won’t need surgery. In two weeks, we’ll be able to see how it’s healing and a decision will be made from there.

I honestly have no idea what we’re looking at here. Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

I went from a 6-8 week heal time to a 12-14 week heal time. I was completely devastated hearing that news. What the heck am I supposed to do with myself for that long? I’m a busy body. I like to be out in nature. It’s fall — my favorite season. UGHHH.

What in the world am I going to do with even more downtime than I had before? I suppose take a lot of ice baths, binge watch Gordon Ramsey shows, and get As on all my school assignments. While I will probably be doing these things, I’m also going to try spending more time with family and experiencing activities that don’t pertain to horses or being active. Weird, right? Just in these few weeks, I’ve already gone to my first Pittsburgh Penguins game ever, enjoyed the movie theatre, and taken a trip to Kentucky.

Photo by Matt Cline

As I look forward to when I get back into the saddle, I’m wondering if I’ll be more reserved in my riding — if I’ll need to build up my confidence again. This was by far the worst fall I’ve had off a horse and I’m really wondering if it will set me back.

I’m also wondering if I’ll be intimidated to ride my little rocket ship and whether or not my confidence booster will be to get on old faithful — Buns. I’m not entirely sure. I feel cowgirl enough to swing a leg back over Payco and ride off into the sunset like nothing happened, but we’ll see how weak my leg is by the time I get to that point. No matter which horse I’ll be riding, I’m counting down the days until this cowgirl can get back on her horse. It just doesn’t feel right that the main ride is a knee scooter.