Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

31 Years Ago

Thirty-one years ago today—on March 13, 1977—I fell from a runaway school horse at Hunting Hills Stable and broke my back. (Technically, I compressed the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae.) After the fall, I didn’t get back on the horse, but I did drive myself home. the next day, John drove me to Lewis-Gale Hospital, which was close to where we lived.

I was out of work for three weeks and wore a brace for two months. The Lewis-Gale orthopedist told me to stay off horses for at least four months, if not six months. In July 1977, I bought my first horse—a little black quarter horse gelding. I figured I already owned a rather pricey brace, so if another accident happened, I was prepared. I never needed the brace again.

I’d taken weekly lessons for about eight months when the accident happened. I was in a group lesson. The horse in front of me kicked General, the grey gelding I was riding. I heard and felt the kick connect a few inches from my right leg. Wow, I thought, I’m lucky I didn’t get kicked!

Then General, who was mostly Thoroughbred and thus born to run, took off at warp speed around the ring. I’d cantered before but never galloped. I stayed on for a while, but I couldn’t slow him. Finally he lost me in a curve. I was considerably thinner then, so I didn’t have all the natural padding that I do now. I hit the ground pretty hard. I watched my hard hat roll for quite a distance. Oddly, I got up. Someone else finally caught General, who'd jumped the ring fence after he and I parted company.

Anyhow, because of that accident, I stopped riding school horses, bought my own horse, and took private lessons until I was a good enough rider for my horse. I eventually boarded Blackie near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and rode the Parkway trails almost everyday for a couple of years. I joined a trail club and met some wonderful horsepeople.

On the trails, I saw racking horses and fell in love with easy-gaited horses. I owned Blackie for ten years until I gave him away to a little girl who loved him. By then my racking mare Cupcake was ready to ride. John and I showed her for a few years, but I really wanted to have her in my backyard.

Some weekends we’d camp on one of our farms, and I’d ride with my cousins on trails. In 1995, I bought Melody, a big Tennessee Walker. By the time I retired in 1997, I really wanted to move to the country.

In 1999, we finally moved to Franklin County, where my roots run deep and where two old mares now live in my backyard.

If I hadn’t had that accident, I’d probably have ridden school horses for years and maybe never had the joy of owning a horse. Sometimes, what seems like a bad thing turns out to be a good thing.

And Blackie? He lived to be 33. The little girl who loved him grew up and had her own little girl who also loved him.


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Blogger Amy Tate said...

Ugh. That is the second time I've heard your story and it still gives me the shivers. I'm glad you are o.k. and that your two mares know better!

5:14 PM  
Blogger Amy Hanek said...

You are lucky to be alive AND able to get back in the saddle again!

12:08 PM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

I thought that was a very uplifting tale, myself. I am glad you recovered from the accident and moved on so well with your life.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

It's usually just the opposite--the horse lover buys herself a horse, has an accident and THEN realizes she needs lessons.

Don't scare me Becky. I was watching Kelly today getting her lesson and I'm such a nervous mommy, I could hardly look.

10:09 PM  

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