Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend: Head injury!

Yep, I cracked my noggin pretty good, but I didn't fall off a horse. Late Sunday night I went out to retrieve something from the trunk of Bob's car. Using the remote to open the trunk from in the house, I went to the car in the pitch dark. I didn't know the ThuleTM bike racks were installed on the trunk. I fished my stuff out and slammed the trunk down, hard. The bars of the rack came down on the top of my head. I sort of knocked myself out. No blood but a lot of pain and cursing when the dizziness subsided, and a goose egg to boot.

Doctor, it hurts when I half halt
Riley's trainer was at the U.S. Open this weekend, so I rode him lightly. Saturday, before my cranial crackup, I hacked around the farm with another boarder. Sunday  night was the bike rack attack. Monday, I dragged my brain-injured self to the barn and gingerly strapped my helmet on. See below...

This isn't just the "good parts" of the ride, it's pretty much the whole ride (due to my self-induced headache). You'll notice some funny stuff with my hands -- was trying to counteract his tendency to get low in the poll/curl. The correct behavior would have been "more forward, more leg." It felt like we were really moving, but obviously we weren't!


  1. First off, you two look very good together, despite your self-criticism and self-doubts! I think all that time ago you really did pick the horse who was going to be a great match with you.

    Do you normally ride Riley after your trainer has warmed him up? If so, did you start off holding your reins in the same place you normally do (same length)? My horse has a tendency to curl/get behind the bit especially when I first get on, so I start with my reins longer and him low until he starts stretching into them. Then as I push him forward he starts to lift his front end as he warms up, and becomes lighter in the reins without curling - at which point I shorten my reins to keep the contact I want, until he's in his "working" position, the "frame" which comes from where he is in his fitness/training. Riley looked like he was starting to lift his front end more as you rode, so he may need the same kind of warmup and chance to get himself going before you shorten into your normal rein length.

  2. Hi Net, yes, normally my trainer warms him up. I had walked him around the fields outside, waiting for a lesson to finish up. So you saw our very first trot work, and you make a good point. I have a tendency to let the reins get too long, and in trying to fix that I may have been a bit too constraining for the first part of the ride.

  3. Or, alternately, he could be a young horse who is starting to learn a lot, and you're starting to learn him. :)

    After 6 months, I am finally where I can warm up with contact at all, but we're still not perfect, so take what I say with a grain of salt - but I know my reins start at least 6" longer than where they are later in my ride if I don't want him curled up.

    Warmup trot:

    Vs trot later in the ride and approx 6" difference in the reins (still not fully warmed up):
    (My looking down at him and otherwise poor equitation I'm trying to fix notwithstanding!)

  4. Naughty, naughty - you should stay off your horses until your concussion resolves, another whack on the head, protected or not could cause some serious trouble.

    I think you look very nice on Riley. It takes time to perfect a partnership and I have no doubt that you are headed in the right direction.

    One thing that helped me with too-long-reins, since I type all day long (extended fingers), my natural grip is weaker than my trainers so I use stress balls to strength my gripping muscles. This has helped me to keep my fingers closed on the reins and stop the reins from inadvertently slipping through my fingers as my hands fatigue. No idea if this relates to you - just throwing it out there!

  5. I think you look great together. I liked your brief sitting trot there to the end, something I'm struggling to not perfect, not master, but survive.

  6. Well, shoot, I usually just fall on my head. You had to go and do things the complicated way!

    Pretty sure jarring your noggin around while it's still injured isn't a good plan. Give yourself a few days, at least until it stops hurting. I was reading some new research recently about long-term effects of minor head injuries, and as someone with several horse-related concussions in my past, I gotta say, it's something I wish I could go back and be more careful about.

  7. Ouchie! I hope your noggin is feeling better soon.

  8. Take it from me: you really don't want to be engaging in physical activity that's higher-risk while brain injured.

    My husband suffered a mild brain injury back in 2002, but we didn't really understand the implications of that. He kept on playing two higher-risk sports, but his depth perception, agility and reaction times were slowed by the injury.

    As a result, he was brain injured AGAIN very soon after the first. He now has three lesions in the center of his brain that have caused him to lose 28 IQ points and gave him a permanent headache (yes, he has a headache every single day and will for the rest of his life).

    Before we understood what was going on, he was erroneously diagnosed as being ADD and mentally ill. In fact, his rages and inability to concentrate were due to the injury. He has regained a lot of cognitive function, and he's luckier than most traumatic brain injured folks--he can still function and work.

    Take it easy! No more riding! Go to the doctor!

  9. Good advice from everyone about not riding while your head still hurts. Please do be careful.

    Good start with Riley, though. You do fit him beautifully and your seat looks great.

    More forward would definitely help, but you must be careful not to nag him with your leg to get it. Is he OK with the dressage whip? A little leg, then a tap to reinforce might sharpen him up and encourage him to go on his own.

    All the rest will come together with time and practice. You two need to tune into each other to form a partnership and that simply takes lots of rides.

  10. You know the way accidents can happen, maybe we should just wear our helmets all the time! ;)

    Hope your noggin feels better fast.


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