Eventers are a hardy bunch,no one can deny that. Rivalled only by jump jockeys,we positively pride ourselves on our ability to keep going regardless. We face a million challenges every day-from paying bills to keeping the whole show on the road-but nowhere do we excel as well as we do with injuries. No matter if you have an arterial bleed-‘sure just stick a band aid on it and it’ll be fine’. Compound fractures are no biggie-‘well it probably shouldn’t look like that,but get some vet wrap and an animalintex from the truck and il patch it right up’. It’s INSANE when you think about it. But it’s ok,because we mostly don’t…..
Capable of surviving the most horrific of falls-especially if you happen to have another horse or two to ride-is now de rigueur,thanks to Micheal Jung. He casually broke his leg in a fall on his first ride at Burghley,before going on to win on his second horse. I suppose it was only a 4*….. He went north the following week to collect his team and individual gold medals,had a little operation and then sauntered off with the six year old world championships at Le Lion. He had to get his groom to trot his horses up and he used a Segway to get around,but other than that he was tip top. I did laugh at the picture of him leading a horse from his Segway-how is that even possible? It would be a modern day interpretation of ‘Ben Hur’ if I attempted such with any of my horses. Most of us approaching middle age after a lifetime with horses most certainly wouldn’t pass any trot up or vetting. We all creak and crackle getting out of bed,none of us track up in any pace and a square halt is out of the question. Oddly though,sit any one of us in a saddle and we are just as supple and capable as any half our age.
I myself was a good example of this last year. I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing on a horse I should not have been doing it on,and I hit the deck. I knew straight away that it was bad,but of course I got up and retrieved my startled animal. Over the coming days,walking became a pretty big problem and I went to the gp. He thought I was fine,but sent me for X-ray which was clear. Fair enough. I battled on for five weeks in utter agony on a sea of drugs before being sent to a sports clinic. The odd thing was,I could ride no problem. Jumping was a bit sore,and driving was difficult but I kept competing. The horses took great advantage of me,power walking everywhere or standing in the furthest corners of fields refusing to come to me. An MRI scan revealed a long fracture of my sacrum,which extended into the right sacroiliac joint with a lot of bleeding and fluid around the injury. Nice. Martyr for the cause,me…..six weeks on crutches,they advised. Plenty of rest. Yeah right. I did howsoever,discover that horses are TERRIFIED of crutches which can be remarkably useful if you have a sticky loader…..
The problem with being so tough is that no one bothers when you have hurt yourself. No sympathy,no help. Really we only have ourselves to blame,but I did feel a bit hard done by post emergency C section when I was expected to muck out stables and feed calves a few days after my return home……A sensible doctor is a must,too. None of this ‘rest and recuperation’ rubbish,just tell me how bad it is and give me the drugs. Two in the O.I. on Friday you know,I don’t even have time to be here…..You could be in a full body cast,and it’s a certainty your biggest obstacle to overcome is getting your horses to stop snorting and running away. Solve that,and you’ll have them back on a lunge in no time……..