Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing

Thursday February 25 2010

Little did Keith Urban know, I bet, that when he gave his 2006 album this title that it was the perfect theme for Endurance riders.

There's no question most of us love our horses and love the opportunity they give us to get out and ride, and ride far, and it's pretty obvious many of us are obsessed with it. Even if there is a little pain involved.

Look at Melissa, who broke her leg pretty badly a few months ago, and got 3 accomplices to sneak her out to her horse and put her on board. She may not be done with surgeries yet, but she's already making plans to ride Tevis (of all rides!) this year and is having her horse taught to lay down so she can mount easier. Her doctor isn't excited about that, but, what's he going to do?

Is she crazy?

Not any crazier than, say, Karen, who rode Tevis (of all the rides to do this!) with a broken rib, and a punctured spleen in questionable state of repair.

Karen II got jumped on by her horse, spent a day running errands before she went to the doctor and found her leg was broken. She rode once with a broken arm too.

Five miles from the finish of the 2009 Pan American Championship in Guatemala, a Malaysian rider's horse fell 5 miles from the finish. The rider was hurt and couldn't remount, but as his team was in contention for a medal, he walked the 5 miles in on foot leading his horse, and remounted (with help from his team) to cross the finish line before he was hauled off in an ambulance. He'd broken his collarbone. (They won the medal).

I heard a rumor that one US rider rode a loop with an IV needle in her arm, but i haven't been able to confirm that yet.

Julie Suhr, our 'First Lady of Endurance,' broke her shoulder in a fall from her best horse, HCC Gazal +/, 5 weeks before the Tevis ride that could have, with a finish, given her her 20th buckle. While the doctor told her she'd be fine in a couple of months (!!!), Julie rode Tevis anyway. She compromised by riding a borrowed horse, not Gazal, who tended to pull her arms out of her sockets. Her arm hurt the day before, and the day after, Tevis, but not at all on the day she became the first rider ever to receive a 2000-mile Tevis Cup silver buckle.

One of the world's top endurance riders from Australia fell off a horse last year and was in a coma for nearly two months. She's determined to get back to riding as soon as possible.

One gal broke her foot out on a loop on an endurance ride... but she didn't quit when she got to the vet check. She sucked it up and went out on the second loop and finished her ride... and only afterwards removed her shoe and dealt with the damage.

I myself am guilty of the Whole Crazy Thing, although I am definitely wimpier than a lot of tougher riders. I had a sorry accident 10 years ago, and was desperate to ride again. I had no business getting on a horse 2 1/2 months after the accident, but I was consumed with an almost deperate need to do so... and I did.

I broke a middle toe in June and, sad to say, totally wimped out from riding 2 days. I'm still miffed about that - I should have just cut the top of my shoe off and sucked it up and rode! (I mean - really - it was one toe, not even the big one!)

When I broke my rib in September, I climbed right back on my horse and rode him some more (before the breathing got too difficult : ) to make sure he knew he couldn't just get away with dumping me and running off. However, I just couldn't bring myself to do a 5-day ride a week later. (I could have dealt with the pain, but not the chance of worse injury, and the expense, and the extra time off I would have been forced to take.)

I have a knee that's about shot, but I keep riding - I can't take the time (or money) to get it looked at. I figure I have quite a ways to go before the pain gets really bad.

Why do we do it? Because we love our horses. We love riding. Even though there is 'always another ride,' we don't want to miss one. I don't think we are masochists. Or are we? I know we're addicts. Count me as one.

What about you - have you ridden with pain, broken bones, damaged organs? Or, I should probably be asking, how many of you HAVEN'T ridden without pain and damage, when you definitely shouldn't have?

Are riders of other disciplines as Crazy? Or is it mainly endurance riders that have a lack of judgment?


  1. I have two bad knees that hurt like blue blazes every time I ride. As I've gotten older, I've tried to pay more attention to my body. I figure at this point in my life it knows what it's talking about. *G*

    However, I am a wimpy dressage rider who cringes at the idea of all the hours in the saddle you endurance riders...well..endure. *G*

  2. I honestly have no major injuries or have had one that I would have to "ride through." I guess I've just been lucky? I think I could ride "less", because although I love riding in the summer, I'm a bit lazy about it in the winter, LOL! If I was ever to a point I couldn't ride at all, I would still be happy just working with horses from the ground or grooming them or watching them from the fence. Maybe I could gentle young Mustang babies or something.....

  3. I told myself after my horse teleported 8 ft sideways and I fell off and ripped my ACL in half which required surgery....I was done riding.

    But just 3 months later, even though the doctor told me no riding for 6 months, I was already scheming to get back up and ride. Unfortunately, while my mare was tied, she sat back and broke the weld off the pipe rail and sent it ramming into me, slamming me into the ground....and causing a compound fracture the tibial plateau in the same knee that was still healing from my ACL surgery. gah!!!!!

    I think anyone who has a passion for riding is crazy and obsessed. Horses are a disease we just have to be exposed to or we get withdrawal symptoms.


  4. Hahaha - yes we are crazy, aren't we? Or at least addicted....

    I happened to fall together with my horse once many, many years ago, and got my leg stuck under.
    The horse was fine, and I continued to ride, but when I dismounted I could not stand on the leg.
    Could not get the riding boot off either, it had to be cut off the leg.
    Not a break (I was young then, lol), but severe concussion and crouches for several weeks.

    Leading my horse home after a training session just before hristmas two years ago, I slipped on the ice and fell.
    My wrist hurt, but I rode home and took care of my horse and the equipment.
    My friend that was with me insisted that I should see a doctor, and it turned out the wrist was broken.
    Good thing was that my husband had to do all the Christmas cleaning that year, hehe.

  5. ...oh, and I rode all through pregnancy too. Up to the very day I had to go to the hospital and give birth!

  6. Yep...think your right there because "In riding a horse we borrow freedom" I think we also get some kind of endorphin release for any pain while we are riding/competing. Broke leg 3 times while galloping on race track and rode with cast all times...thumb on right hand but the cast made it bearable to a flack jacket to make my doctor happy and rode 2 weeks after. I did ride (pleasure not compete) with an IV in my hand while I was healing from injury caused by horse stepping on my thigh after fall. Last year I sprained my ankle the nite before a comp. and it just did not occur to me not to start the next day and guess what the pain was OK while i rode but had to have a friend trot my horse at the VC...weird...
    WHY do we??? Not cause we are trying to prove anything I think its just what we do and it is the best medicine, pain killer, prozac I know of....If I can't get on the horse due to pain, and this has happened, I have to at least be around them... it just helps, its hard to explain to those that don't ride that while on board everything slows down even if we go fast and the world just makes sense, problems/worries disappear at least for the moment.
    I just need to learn how to stay in 1 piece because I am getting slower to heal with age and all those injuries are starting to pay me back in aches!

  7. Got an old injury from fifteen years ago..trying to practice for a trail class that included opening a gate, horse spooked sideways into the gate - my leg was there and my knee got busted up right on the metal. I was afraid to tell my parents, so never went to the doc till two years later. Ended up in PT for a year. Dang thing hurts all the time, but I manage fine and nobody is gonna keep me off horses!

  8. You got doubled - award for you on my blog - no need to repeat the exercise of passing on!

  9. Needed to add this: Once, years ago I was suffering from a miserable migraine headache all day. Nothing worked to ease the pain. I went out to the stable to check on my horse. I walked up to him in the pasture, and leaned my head against his neck. Suddenly the horrible headache was gone.

    Perhaps the truth is we ride our horses with all kinds of injuries, etc, because when we are with them, they take away the pain...literally.

  10. i fell off at Old Dominion (my fault) on the 1st loop, thought i broke my thumb, rode the rest of the loop with my hand up in the air :)
    but i'm a wuss, since it was not broken, i finish the ride :)
    had a chip bone on my left elbow after i fell off a huge 17 hand warmblood, and keep on trail ride my mare with one hand for a whole month :) but nothing like the stories you mention.

  11. I still sport a fist sized lump with nerve damage on my thigh from a fall three years ago. 8 miles into a ride (only a 30, thankfully), my horse tripped and went nose over tail. I went into some jagged boulders, nearly passed out from the pain. Hobbled over to my mare, who had some scrapes but appeared okay. We were closer to the outcheck than ... See Morecamp, so I decided to ride on. The carnage observed in the portapotty (and scream heard for miles away as I slapped some hand sanitizer on it to "cleanse" it) was a memory maker. I begged the vet to find something off in my mare, but darn it if she was perfectly sound. If the horse was fine, so was I. Posting was interesting but good friends got me through it to complete mid pack. Ten days after surgical proceedure to drain the 4" hematoma, I was back on finishing that mare's first 50. I didn't tell my doc my intentions, for fear I'd get a psych referral. Yep, we're a twisted group!!

  12. Si habeis visitado mi Blog "EL RAID", en él comento un accidente te tuve el dia antes del Raid en el que iba a participar, resultado nueve costillas rotas, una luxación de dedo de la mano, heridas varias y dos meses durmiendo sentado, asi que
    Saludos desde España.

  13. ah yes as an endurance (ultrarunner)... it's the ol "nothing suceeds like obsession".. whilst a complete newbie compared to ya'lll.. it's also a lesson in "feel the fear and do it anyway" :)

    sit down and ride
    happy trails
    cid and g-man

  14. I'm not an endurance rider, I don't think I could stay in the saddle that long. I've ridden equitation and hunters my whole life and have recently switched to dressage. I rode with a really bad knee(no cartilage) for a very long time before I had the knee replaced. Now it only clicks a little when I post but I don't think I will get the other done until it's unbearable. I did ride some when I had a slipped/herniated disc. Now that hurt. I'm sort of wimpy compared to everyone else, but I love to ride and hope to continue for a long time, aches and pains come with the territory.

  15. Thanks awsome, thanks for the info. Like reading at your blog.

  16. You are totally preaching to the choir here. Broken toes etc. In fact, i think this week was the ONLY time I have EVER cancelled a ride because of the physcial impossibility of getting into the saddle.....the bloody scabs and rubs on the side of my legs were still oozing and bleeding and cracking from the 100 on I cancelled my wednesday dressage lesson. I felt like such a wimp.